3 Aug 2016
Leaders Summit 2016
On 22 June 2016 1,200 leaders from over 75 countries representing business, finance, government, labour, civil society, academia and the United Nations met at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York. Established in 2000, the Global Compact’s ultimate goal is to create a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. The Leaders Summit seeks to advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by engaging the private sector.
The Leaders Summit was a powerful gathering of companies striving to make a better world. According to Cities Programme Chair Michael Nolan, meeting leaders from all over the globe, united under the UN Global Compact banner, was inspiring.
“The Leaders Summit was a great chance to support collaboration between the Cities Programme and the Global Compact Local Networks and their business leaders,” says Michael.
More than 50% of the world’s economies are corporations. Seeing these corporations’ initiatives to collaborate with governments and civil society organisations (with the aim of improving social, environmental and economic outcomes) gives the Cities Programme great hope for the future. These collaborations are critical in addressing global issues that are traditionally not managed well by governments or businesses.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the Summit, emphasising the remarkable achievements of 2015 with the adoption of both the SDGs and the historic Paris Climate Agreement. Leader after leader highlighted the uncertain and rapidly changing environment that businesses face. They suggested solutions based on the SDGs, which act as a blueprint and transform uncertainty and risk into business opportunities.
A new strategy: Making Global Goals Local Business
At the event, the UN Global Compact launched a new multi-year strategy, Making Global Goals Local Business. Ten Local SDG Pioneers—selected from over 600 nominees in 100 countries—were announced to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs and change makers who are demonstrating how business can unlock economic, social and environmental gains in their markets for the new SDG era.
Almost every speaker across the two days of the Summit emphasised that collaboration, partnership and coalition building are key to achieving the SDGs. While everyone acknowledged that all stakeholder groups must come together, much work remains to effectively catalyse collaborative action.
The Global Compact’s role
The UN Global Compact was identified as the starting point and avenue for all companies wanting to advance the SDGs. It guides companies to first act responsibly in alignment with the initiative’s ten core sustainability principles. This provides a universal definition for responsible business, which then leads participating parties to find opportunities that will further support the SDGs.