The (UN)Sustainable Development Goals: Now Open for Business
Posted on 7 October 2015
IBON International Updates #5
New York City, 29 September 2015 –More than 150 world leaders, hundreds of representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and corporate executives attended the UN Summit on Sustainable Development from September 25-27 at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to formally adopt a new sustainable development agenda.Titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the agreement contains a set of 17 goals and 169 targets that would come into effect on 1 January 2016, replacing the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.
Before the formal opening of the Summit, Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly in the morning of the 25th. The Pope spoke at length on a range of subjects stressing the need to protect the natural environment, end social exclusion and promote social justice. He reminded world leaders that the “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”
The Summit itself opened with a film, titled “Earth from Space,” on the theme of people and planet, followed by live performances by singers Shakira and Angelique Kidjo. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda and co-chair of the Summit, said the event marked the “dawn of a new era towards eradicating poverty, transforming economies and protecting the planet”. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s Prime Minister and co-chair of the Summit, said that the presence of so many leaders testified to the transformative potential of the new Agenda. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the occasion as “a defining moment in human history”.
On the other hand, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, representing civil society, said that the skeptics couldn’t be blamed when they saw yet another summit declaration. He reminded world leaders, “You cannot claim to support sustainable development when you are reluctant to reduce the consumption of the rich or transfer technology […] you cannot lecture about peace while being the largest manufacturer of arms […] you cannot launch Sustainable Development Goals and in parallel deny a safe and legal route to refugees.”
Just before noontime, Rasmussen called on the UNGA to formally adopt the document A/70/L.1, “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” As Rasmussen gaveled the adoption, participants responded with a standing ovation, cheering and waving flags, as a short “Global Goals” film was played.
The Summit opening session was followed by three days of plenary and dialogue sessions, as well as numerous side events, forums and roundtables. In total, over 9,000 participants, including 136 Heads of State and Government, ministers, business leaders, and civil society attended the Summit.Big business was well represented with a good number of CEOs from the Fortune 500 in attendance including Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Paul Polman (Unilever), Bob Collymore (Safaricom), Peder Nielsen (Novozymes), Will Marshall (Planet Labs), Reeta Roy (Mastercard Foundation), Philippe Zaouti, (MirovaSociétéAnonyme) and numerous others eager to showcase the private sector’s contributions to sustainable development and explore partnerships with the