On September 9th and 10th, the United Nations Global Compact and Global Compact Network Canada concluded their two-day, business sustainability forum in Toronto, the Making Global Goals Local Business – Canada Summit. Nearly 200 local leaders from businesses, non-for-profit organizations, governments, civil society and the UN Global Compact attended the event, which is organized to underscore the impact of multi-stakeholder partnerships and responsible business action in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In an Opening Plenary speech welcoming delegates to the event, The Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, remarked, “(The) agenda for these two days is most impressive. It betrays an important realization: When others can’t act, businesses will. Where wicked problems abound, businesses will tackle them with innovation. The private sector is an essential agenda-setter without which we cannot become truly resilient. Working on both global and local scales is how business can make the greatest impact. Sustainability, like businesses, cannot work in isolation: you operate both within and beyond sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.”
The summit was part of the UN Global Compact’s Making Global Goals Local Business global campaign, a multi-year strategy mobilizing businesses to advance the Global Goals at the local level. The event focused on how integration and implementation of the SDGs in business strategies and operations is a key contribution to the realization of the Global Goals, and a vehicle for achieving the vision of the 2030 Agenda.
The event featured a review of the progress being made towards the SDGs by the Head of Secretariat of the Global Compact Network Canada, Ayman Chowdhury. “We are not on track to achieve the goals by 2030. More urgent cross-cutting actions are needed to accelerate progress. The private sector needs to pay more attention to the interconnected megatrends that are driving the new era of business and opening up new horizons for transformative change.” Key topics such as climate action, the role of the C-suite, gender equality, youth engagement, SDGs impact reporting, and the role of smart cities and innovation were also discussed by business leaders around the central theme of the summit, “Partnerships for the SDGs”.
At the event, the audience was also introduced to the recently launched “Business Ambition for 1.5°C – Our Only Future” campaign. The campaign is a call-to-action issued by a broad coalition of businesses, civil society and UN leaders urging private sector companies to set verifiable science-based targets consistent with keeping the global average warming to 1.5°C, limiting the worst impacts of climate change. To date, more than 80 companies globally have already committed to the campaign, all of which will be recognized at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23rd.
At the summit’s Closing Plenary, City of Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão was invited to give the audience an overview of the city’s goals and plans of action for advancing the SDGs on a municipal scale.
Scotiabank was the official host sponsor of the summit; “At Scotiabank we are committed to delivering sustainable business practices for every future,” says Brendan Seale, Chief Sustainability Officer at Scotiabank. “Through our sponsorship and participation at the UN Global Compact’s Making Global Goals Local Business Summit, we were provided the opportunity to hear new perspectives around business innovation for sustainability, explore a variety of approaches to build a more progressive and sustainable Canadian private sector and continue the important conversation around gender representation in the workplace.”
In an effort to move these SDG conversations from local business implementation to the international stage, the UN Global Compact will be co-organizing UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit 2019 from September 23rd to 26th in New York. The event will include a CEO Roundtable, the SDG Business Forum and the UN Private Sector Forum. The week will involve a series of high-level discourse that will align with the agendas of the inter-governmental meetings of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, which will cover key topics surrounding climate change, health and sustainable finance.
For additional information pertaining to the UN General Assembly, please visit the Business Guide here.