29 Jun 2017
‘Breakthrough Innovation’ is fostering action for SDGs

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a global imperative. They have become a guiding light for corporations, as well as nations across the world with many CEOs ranking the SDGs high on their agenda. But how can awareness be turned into action?

Senior Manager of Innovation at the UN Global Compact Rosedel Davies-Adewebi, live from New York, led a global webinar, in June, on the UN Global Compact Breakthrough Innovation for the SDGs Action Platform.

Taking part were a wide range of  companies, technologists and organisations from the public and private sector across the world including from Australia, the US and Brazil, all interested in learning how the platform could support them integrating solutions powered by disruptive technologies into their sustainability initiatives.

The Breakthrough Innovation Platform, developed in partnership with Volans, aims to drive new business models to advance the SDGs by connecting mainstream companies with next generation innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver sustainable innovative solutions.

“We are bringing  together companies, UN entities and Governments, to understand the effect disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Blockchain have on industries, companies and society,” Rosedel Davies-Adewebi said.

Current participating companies include multinationals Braskem, Iberdrola, Nestle, Fuji Xerox, ARM and Suitomo Chemical among others.

“By connecting the corporate sustainability world with leading innovation centers, participants in the Platform can work together to create the sustainable business models and products of the future that address the SDGs.

Rosedel Davies-Adewebi says that a total of 380 million jobs could be created by SDG business opportunities in four systems – food and agriculture, cities, energy and minerals, and health and wellbeing – all which are critical to delivering the SDGs.

“Achieving the Global Goals opens up US$12 trillion of market opportunities in those four economic systems.”

Opportunities for cities include low-carbon transportation and mobility systems, urban agriculture, sustainable food systems and smart infrastructure.

“Furthermore, more than half the value of the Global Goals business opportunities arises in developing countries,” she added.

But Davies-Adewebi says that achieving this ambition is not going to come easily.

“It is going to require a change from ‘business as usual’ and a commitment to truly breakthrough innovation that challenges current mindsets as well as unprecedented collaboration across all sectors in society,” she said.

“Companies that champion breakthrough innovation to deliver more sustainable business models and products will not only help meet the SDGs, but will win new emerging business opportunities.”

The Breakthrough Innovation Platform, launched in 2016 is a key element of the UN Global Compact’s multi-year strategy to make global goals local by mobilising companies around the world to understand and act on the SDGs.

Current participants in the Breakthrough Innovation platform have exclusive access to a series of curated content and activities including webinars, podcasts and case studies designed to help put pioneering innovation into practice for sustainability.

In-Person Workshops will also be facilitated for companies to identify and act on areas of maximum impact at the intersection of sustainability and disruptive technology.

Participants are also invited to take part in the Breakthrough Innovation Challenge – a seven-month programme which brings together young entrepreneurs to design and test a sustainable business model that addresses a company-specific challenge.

The programme, starting in January 2018,  developed in partnership with the DO School, combines workshops, field trips, case competitions and online collaboration.

If you or your company would like to participate in the platform or would like more information, please email Rosedel Davies-Adewebi (rdaviesadewebi@unglobalcompact.org) to set up a call to determine the best mode of participation.