Business leaders urged to step up commitments to sustainability at Uniting Business LIVE 2022
At the start of the high-level opening week of the 77th Session of the General Assembly week, Chief Executives from UN Global Compact companies and representatives from Governments, the United Nations and development agencies gathered in New York during Uniting Business LIVE to align on an urgent and collective course of action to put the world back on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 as progress stalls for the second year in a row.
Uniting Business LIVE connects the high-level multi stakeholder dialogues of the Private Sector Forum, the grounded local knowledge and implementation strategies of the Global Impact Forum, and partnership and leadership examples of the SDG Business Forum, into one inclusive, impactful and innovative all access global event.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking during the three-day event, noted that the world and the Sustainable Development Goals are in trouble and called for the private sector to do more:
“We need the private sector to ramp up investments in the net-zero and climate-resilient transition of emerging economies. We need the private sector to support the full implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, providing the necessary financing, insurance, and logistical support. And we need to ensure that the trillions mobilized by the private sector lead to tangible progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Ten Principles of the Global Compact have never been more relevant. I urge and challenge you to bring the Global Compact to life through ambitious action across your companies, industries, and economies.”
Findings from the UN Global Compact 2022 Progress Report released during Uniting Business LIVE showed that companies across its networks are increasing their commitment to sustainability with 51 percent of respondents from the annual survey reporting that they were aligning their core business strategies with the SDGs. This is up from just 35 percent in 2019. The companies reported climate, fair labour practices, and gender equality as top priorities.
According to the report, corporate responsibility is also increasingly being developed by boards of directors and more companies are publicly disclosing sustainability progress and holding themselves accountable for their commitments. This is especially true on the environment, with an 11 percent increase in the reporting of emissions and strategic data.
Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General; Executive Director and CEO of UN Global Compact, spoke at the SDG Business Forum of her support for verifiable targets and called on companies to integrate sustainability throughout their operations:
“Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require that we all accelerate our efforts.
We need companies to build collaboration and knowledge sharing within their strategy and operations. We need to invest in a talent pool of changemakers who can leverage new technologies and business models to find sustainable solutions to stubborn problems. And it will require that you muster the wherewithal to implement the necessary solutions. Internal reviews and public sustainability reports are meaningless unless followed by concrete action.”
Ojiambo made her remarks following an announcement from the UN General Assembly in July which declared access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right, paving the way for both businesses and governments to accelerate the implementation of their environmental and human rights commitments.
To spearhead this effort, the UN Global Compact announced the launch of a new Business and Human Rights Accelerator. This six-month programme is designed to help companies understand when, where and how they adversely impact human rights, while making clear how to prioritize the most salient issues for action. It was also announced that the Local Network USA has, in its first Climate Ambition Accelerator, guided twenty-nine of the largest U.S. companies through the science-based target methodology, helping them put in place an emissions reduction plan to achieve a net-zero footprint by 2050.