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New Global Commission To Promote Businesses’ Role In Sustainable Development

A new global commission launched Thursday will aim to promote the role businesses can have in promoting sustainable development.

Launched Thursday at the World Economic Forum, The Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development was created by former United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown and Unilever CEO Paul Polman to “articulate and quantify the compelling economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” including:

  • Significant economic rewards – through new markets, investment opportunities and innovations – if the world tackles challenges including poverty, inequality and environmental stress
  • Risks to business performance and stability, and increased fragmentation, resource competition and fragility, if the world fails to address these risks
  • The necessity to work with governments, international organizations and civil society in order to build a future where businesses can perform – with inclusive, sustainable growth and widespread job creation

Specifically, The Global Commission has been created to do five things:

  • First, to decode the SDGs and show why it makes sense for business to engage on sustainable development at a far more strategic level than it has to date.
  • Second, to show how new business models can align profitability with social purpose.
  • Third, to map out how new financial tools can crowd in private capital and align economic and social returns.
  • Fourth, to show how business, government, and society can work effectively together to build the partnerships needed for SDG delivery.
  • Fifth, to quantify the efficiency gains in achieving sustainable development if business is fully aligned with the SDGs.

“A massive prize awaits business if it successfully ushers in an era of shared prosperity and increased sustainability,” said Commission Co-Chair Mark Malloch-Brown. “Governments and international organisations alone cannot build the future we need. Business is the key to accelerating the transition.”

“There is no business case for enduring poverty,” added Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “We have an opportunity to unlock trillions of dollars through new markets, investments and innovation – but to do so, we must challenge our current practices and address poverty, inequality and environmental challenges. Every business will benefit from operating in a more equitable, resilient world if we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The new Global Commission will bring together international leaders from business, labor, financial institutions, and civil society, and aims to present a comprehensive report in one year’s time outlining their new business and financial models.

“There is a case to be made that vast economic incentives exist for changing business as usual,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. “Business can create the fair wage jobs to propel societal development that leaves no one behind. Business innovation can deliver the technological advancements needed to achieve an efficient, net zero emissions economy. And business and society could both win, if more businesses recognize this and act upon it.”

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