US Business Leaders Convene at SDG Summit USA for Collective Action on Global Goals
New York, NY September 25, 2023 – Over 200 senior leaders of US businesses, the United Nations Global Compact, local government, civil society, and the UN attended the 2023 SDG Summit USA to raise awareness and promote practical business action and partnerships within the American private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event, which took place during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, was organized by the UN Global Compact Network USA, the American Chapter of the United Nations Global Compact.
SDG Summit USA highlighted opportunities for US businesses to amplify their impact and establish leadership in propelling the SDGs forward.
“Governments provide the framework for progress, but markets drive change. And change cannot happen without the US,” Adam Roy Gordon, Executive Director of UN Global Compact Network USA, said in his welcome remarks. He acknowledged that the world could benefit from the US’s involvement and influence in global progress because “the US has a proven track record of leadership, innovation, technological advancement, and effective action.”
In his Opening Remarks, Paul Polman, Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact Board of Directors and former CEO of Unilever, said, “Increasingly, we do see that those who embrace the SDGs tend to get rewarded.” He noted that this commitment helps businesses attract talent, reduce costs, enhance relationships with stakeholders, drive innovation, and better position companies for a future everyone aspires to.
At SDG Summit USA, UN Global Compact Network USA also recognized its local SDG Pioneer winners, Cristina Villalón, Co-Founder and Managing Principal of Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón, and Raven Adams, Sustainability Manager at Granite Construction. SDG Pioneers are recognized business leaders championing the SDGs and inspiring others to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UN Global Compact Network USA was honored to have US Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform Christopher Lu present the awards to the winners.
"As we've learned from our collective efforts to address climate change, we need everyone at the table – national governments, local governments, nonprofits, foundations, and especially the private sector. And here in the US, our private sector is one of our greatest comparative advantages in addressing global demands," said Ambassador Lu. "We in the US Mission are fully committed to increasing this private sector engagement and highlighting the great work businesses are doing on the SDGs.”
While progress has been made, 70% of the SDGs are stagnating or regressing in the US. The United Nations Global Compact-Accenture Global Private Sector Stock Take report, which surveyed over 2,800 business leaders from around the world, showed the vast majority (94%) of business leaders still view the SDGs as a unifying global vision. Still, to achieve them, the private sector must focus on the areas where they can have the most impact.
To respond to this call, the UN Global Compact has launched Forward Faster, a new initiative to accelerate private sector action at the pace and scale needed to deliver on 17 SDGs and meet the 2030 Agenda.
Speaking to business leaders earlier that week, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said, "Time is running out to create the positive change the world so desperately needs. We must all join forces to create a more prosperous and resilient global community. We must move forward faster."
Ms. Ojiambo offered the closing remarks at SDG Summit USA during a fireside chat with Mr. Gordon and Michael Okoroafor, Chief Sustainability Officer of McCormick & Company and UN Global Compact Network USA Board Member. During her address, Ms. Ojiambo encouraged attendees to establish ambitious targets and expedite their efforts in achieving the SDGs.
The 2023 SDG Summit USA took place at the Accenture office in New York, NY. UN Global Compact Network USA would like to thank its Co-presenting Sponsor, Accenture, and its supporting partners, Geomatica, Plus Media, and Sustain.life for their support.
About Global Compact Network USA
Global Compact Network USA (Network USA) is the US Chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. Network USA is a powerful network of companies and stakeholders dedicated to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. By connecting partners with the resources of the greater UN, Network USA supports companies that are committed to fully integrating its principles of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption into their business strategies and operations. To learn more, visit GlobalCompactUSA.org.