"It's really encouraging that an increasing number of CEOs recognize how SDGs provide firms with a roadmap to rethink their approach to
the creation of sustainable value. The challenge, now, is to strengthen this movement
by promoting the inclusion of more and more companies around the world"
Lise Kingo – UN Global Compact Executive Director
2016 Leaders Summit
The Leaders Summit 2016 was held in New York on 22nd and 23rd June. It is an event that is sponsored by the United Nations Global Compact every three years and aimed at the top positions (Presidents, CEO, Top Managers) in the firms and organizations that are part of the UN initiative. The Leaders Summit is generally an opportunity for a high-profile debate on the progress and development of the UN Global Compact throughout the world.
The main topic of the Leaders Summit 2016 was the creation of new business models that respond responsibly to the needs of society and at the same time are efficiently oriented to the success of operations and the expansion of markets.
This latest edition, brought together more than 1,200 representatives of the private and financial sectors, of government and academic institutions, of civil society and organizations for Labour Rights, and from the UN System. On this occasion, more than 600 business leaders from 75 countries were able to share the strategies and best practices geared to the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs with the stakeholder organizations present. The event also allowed participants to evaluate the creation of new multi-stakeholder partnerships in sustainability.
In his opening speech, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, reiterated the important role that the Global Compact can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate. The Global Compact is called, therefore, to support firms so that they are able to take the opportunities that characterize the SDGs era. "This will be possible," said Ban Ki-Moon, "thanks to the 80 Global Compact Local Networks acting, ideally, as a launching platform to transform the global objectives into local business."
During this first Leaders Summit after the approval of the SDGs the strategy that the Global Compact will follow in the coming years to promote sustainable development until 2030 was launched. The key elements of the new strategy "Making Global Goals Local Business" are: an Annual Leaders Summit, the SDG Local Pioneers program, the action plans on SDGs promoted by Local Networks, alliances between the UN and the private sector and, finally, the presentation of a report on the impact.
Speaking in the opening session, Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, took the Italian vision of energy sustainability to the Leaders Summit 2016. The CEO of Enel was one of four business leaders who took part in the session "How to change a mindset?" during which the importance of the switch in thinking in order to understand the reasons of the profound changes taking place and to achieve the most ambitious goals was underlined.
"The world is rapidly changing and facing a number of immense challenges: there are enormous disparities of opportunity and wealth among people, while the planet is threatened by environmental degradation and climate change" - said Mr. Starace during his speech. "With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015, we set 17 sustainability goals and an ambitious long-term vision to boost sustainable development globally. The energy sector, which is at the heart of the Agenda, is also undergoing a significant shift to a new paradigm dominated by renewables, and this change will continue regardless of what individual companies choose to do. This is why we decided to swim with the tide instead of against it: we have changed to embrace the future, because it’s only by being open to the change that this will turn into many exciting opportunities."
During his speech Starace stressed the importance of the Open Power approach adopted by Enel as a strategy to open the Group up to innovation, new partnerships and a greater commitment to people: all this with the goal of promoting the social and economic development of communities where the company operates and to successfully face the challenges of the energy sector.
During the Summit, in order to help participants understand the potential inherent in the transformation of risks into new opportunities “Opportunity Sessions” focusing on the following key issues were organised:
- changing lifestyles to promote sustainability
- addressing climate change
- building peace through responsible business
- financing sustainable solutions and business models
- ending poverty to create new markets
- translating global goals into local business action
The sessions were successfully characterized by a strong interaction between the participants: on the one hand, the business leaders proposing advanced ideas on how to deal with new global challenges for 2030; and on the other hand, feedback and stimulating insights offered by the leaders of civil society, governments and UN agencies.
Also during the event the top ten SDG Pioneers were announced. They were nominated from among more than 600 applicants from 100 countries under the SDG Local Pioneers program. The SDG Pioneers for 2016 are:
1. Kerry Adler, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, SkyPower (Canada)
2. Zubaida Bai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ayzh (India)
3. Farzana Chowdhury, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Green Delta Insurance (Bangladesh)
4. Sonia Consiglio Favaretto, Press and Sustainability Managing Director, BM & FBOVESPA S.A. (Brasil)
5. Xiaohui Liang,Chief Researcher, Office for Social Responsibility, China National Textile & Apparel Council (China)
6. Patrick Ngowi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Helvetic Group (Tanzania)
7. Claus Stig Pedersen, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Novozymes (Denmark)
8. UlissesMatiolliSabará, President, Beraca (Brasil)
9. Dina Sherif, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Ahead of the Curve (Egypt)
10. Ulises Smith, Attorney, Linklaters LLP (U.S.A)
And finally, the Summit was an opportunity to launch the following initiatives: