Thirty-two businesses from around the world on Monday presented a signed Commitment Letter to sustainable development to the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Lenni Montiel, at the UN.
The submission of the letter took place as part of a symposium, titled Commitment to Agenda 2030, Partnerships for Innovation and Social Responsibility, which explored how business can help realize sustainable development. The symposium was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, and was co-organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and FiSO Group, LLC.
The businesses committed to seeking the comprehensive realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the global development agenda adopted by 193 nations in September of 2015. In particular, the businesses committed to using the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inform and assess their business strategies and operations, as well as for monitoring and reporting.
The symposium marked the first time that businesses publicly declared a commitment to Agenda 2030, as well as submitted a written affirmation of this commitment to a United Nations official.
Assistant Secretary-General Lenni Montiel received the letter on behalf of the United Nations. In his keynote remarks, he explained that “business participation will be crucial” to realizing the SDGs, and praised the participating businesses for their “remarkable leadership and initiative.”
Additional senior UN officers also attended and spoke at the symposium. In his remarks, Mr. Haitian Lu, Chief of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, thanked the businesses for their effort, and noted that this was the first time businesses were “explicitly committing themselves to achieving the 2030 agenda.”
Ms. Marion Barthelemy, the Acting Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management, gave a presentation on how businesses were involved in the development of Agenda 2030. “Agenda 2030 is an agenda that business can rally around. Today’s is a striking example of this fact,” said Ms. Barthelemy.
Business representatives from the private sector also made their own presentations. Representatives discussed both the motivations behind their participation as well as what their businesses were already doing to advance the SDGs. They covered a wide range of activities, such as investing in technological development, incorporating sustainability as a key focus item in operations, ensuring and improving employee welfare (health, education, and community), and promoting partnerships for sustainability among businesses.
Speakers included Joyce Zhang (President, FiSO Group LLC), Bentley Zhao (President, New Empire Real Estate Group), Shuguang Wang (General Manager, Broad USA, Inc), Haochen Zhao (International Affairs Committee Secretary General, World Health Commonweal Association), Jia Qi (Vice Chairman and CEO, Hivac Technology Group), and Edward Gong (Chairman, Edward International Group, Canada National Television).
The symposium also hosted a panel discussion on the “Opportunities and Challenges for Businesses in Achieving SDGs.” Moderated by Jackie Pang, senior financial news correspondent of Phoenix TV, the panel included Ms. Marion Barthelemy, John W. Allen (CEO, ENS Solutions), William Campbell (General Counsel, I Squared Capital), and Ying Wu (Co-founder, Sinovator, Deputy Secretary General, China Huasheng Green Industry Foundation).
The panel explored how profit and social responsibility can be pursued simultaneously to achieve win-win results. The panelists discussed cooperation with the UN system, government and civil society, as well as innovation and technology, investment in sustainable development, and business core values.
Ms. Jing Zhao Cesarone, from FiSO Group, LLC, gave the closing remarks. Ms. Cesarone said she hoped that all the attendees “will leave today with a better understanding of the relationship of business and sustainable development . . . and with a renewed sense of commitment towards our planet, each other, and future generations.”
On September 25 to 27, 2015, the 193 leaders of UN Member States gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. They marked the occasion by signing and passing “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Known as Agenda 2030, this document embodies a transformative vision for the future of the planet, and addresses issues such as ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.
Business will be essential to realizing the 2030 Agenda. Accordingly, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and FiSO Group, LLC, decided to organize the symposium to discuss partnership, innovation, and social responsibility.