Australian CEOs Sign Statement of Support for UN Sustainable Development Goals
7 September 2016 at 10:46 am
More than 30 business leaders from some of Australia’s largest companies have publicly signed a statement to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
In the statement, CEOs agreed to incorporate the SDGs into their strategies, invest in those priority areas, and collaborate with governments, civil society and academia to achieve the goals.
“We are a diverse group of companies with footprints across Australia and the globe. We agree that business has a critical contribution to make towards achievement of the SDGs – both domestically and internationally – through responsible business operations, new business models, investment, innovation, technology and collaboration,” the statement said
“Our businesses are already contributing to the SDG agenda in many ways… we can do more.
“The SDGs provide points of focus around which we can innovate and collaborate in the search for solutions to critical global and local sustainability challenges, while at the same time positioning competitively for the future.”
The SDGs – agreed by all 193 United Nations member states – are a global agenda laying out a roadmap over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and protect the planet.
The CEO statement was led by the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), the Australian chapter of the UN Global Compact, which is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.
“The statement is a really significant development in the corporate sustainability space,” GCNA executive manager Alice Cope told Pro Bono Australia News.
“We have an incredible list of CEOs, including from some of Australia’s biggest companies, publicly showing their support for this agenda and the importance of the SDGs to Australia and the fact that business sees the agenda as relevant to them as well.
“As the statement says, the CEOs see the critical role for business in contributing to the goals and the business case for them in doing so as well as their willingness in being part of the solution and the challenges that the SDGs represent.”
The 30 companies include ANZ, NAB, Westpac, PwC, Australia Post, Optus, Telstra and KPMG.
“It makes good business sense to support the SDGs. Companies that are actively engaged with the sustainable development agenda not only contribute to better lives for people, but also improve the performance of their own business,” ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said.
“It’s about good risk management and maximising the opportunities presented by a more sustainable economy.”
Cope said the GCNA would like to see more businesses leaders make a public commitment to support the SDGs.
“We certainly welcome business and other leaders getting behind the SDGs and publically showing their support,” she said.
The statement was launched Wednesday at the inaugural Australian SDGs Summit, which brings together governments, businesses, civil society and academia for the first time since the SDGs came into effect.
The Australian Council of Social Services and the Australian Council for International Development will launch a commitment on behalf of civil society to the SDGs, while the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, hosted by Monash University, will release theirs on behalf of the academic community.
Although governments hold primary responsibility for the SDGs, Cope said the role of businesses in addressing the goals was vital.
“In short the SDGs won’t be achieved without the private sector, which has been recognised by world leaders in the global SDG dialogue all along,” she said.
“There are a range of ways the private sector is already [addressing the goals]. These include responsible business operations, new business models products and services, investment in technology and also collaboration.
“And we are seeing businesses that understand there’s an upside for them in engaging with the agenda and really starting to see opportunity as well.
“I think collaboration is really where the SDG agenda shines and one of the key opportunities that our businesses tell us that they see in the SDGs is to use it as a framework to identify the principal partners whose SDG priority areas align with theirs as well.”