sdgf_ipi23 September 2016: Participants highlighted the private sector’s growing awareness the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their increasing participation in implementing them, during a high-level event on business and peace in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN SDG Fund (SDGF) and the International Peace Institute (IPI) organized the event on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Gathering at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 23 September 2016, participants reflected on how to engage the private sector in the design, implementation and follow-up of the SDGs. Paloma Durán, SDG Fund Director, said that when the SDGs are communicated and explained, they are a valuable tool to guide business operations. Stressing that the SDGs “make good business sense,” Durán recommended that businesses consider their engagement with the SDGs as a business opportunity, rather than part of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the Iberoamerican Conference, identified three opportunities for private sector participation in the 2030 Agenda: providing investment to support SDG achievement; supporting the public sector with innovative solutions; and aligning behavior with the 2030 Agenda’s principles, such as by combating tax evasion or promoting inclusive employment practices. She added that, in contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the private sector and civil society participated in the dialogue to develop the SDGs “from the beginning,” which has resulted in a more universal approach.

The UN Special Adviser for the 2030 Agenda, David Nabarro, said over 50 countries have embedded the SDGs into their national plans and strategies, and approximately 50 more countries are in the process of doing so. Within the context of the 2030 Agenda, he said, “every country is a developing country,” and everyone must participate to achieve the Agenda. CEO and Founder of Sahara Group Tonye Cole said the 2030 Agenda has created a “better air of trust, understanding and collaboration” among the UN, world leaders and the private sector. Miguel Camilo Ruiz, Permanent Mission of Colombia, reported that his country’s National High Level Commission for the Implementation of the SDGs found that 88 out of the 199 targets being pursued in Colombia require private sector participation.

On SDG 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels), participants highlighted the linkages among peace, sustainable development, social justice and prosperity for all to achieve the SDG 16 targets. Ruiz said Colombia’s peace agreement is “only the beginning” in constructing a peaceful and inclusive society in his country, and suggested that the private sector contribute to this process by integrating the SDGs into their operations. Participants added that companies recognize the importance of peace and strong institutions as key elements for success. [SDG Fund Press Release] [IPI Press Release]