Gary White and Matt Damon joined CEOs and global leaders at UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2023

New York, United States of America, Sept. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Gary White, CEO and Co-founder of water.org and WaterEquity and Matt Damon, Co-founder of water.org, joined Executive Director and CEO of the UN Global Compact, Sanda Ojiambo, CEOs of major corporations and other leaders from the United Nations, governments, civil society and UN Global Compact Local Networks to take stock of business progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2023. 

Alongside the UN General Assembly High-Level Week, this year’s UN Global Compact Leaders Summit addressed business leadership during converging crises, the critical role of a principles-based approach, global trends, and tools and partnerships needed to fully achieve the 2030 Agenda. 

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New research from the UN Global Compact, Business Leadership in Times of Crisis: Collected Insights from Chief Executive Officers into Successes, Challenges and Areas for Future Focus, shows a dramatic rise of interlinked global challenges is forcing business executives to navigate new levels of uncertainty and hindering progress on the SDGs. The CEOs surveyed urgently call for increased dialogue and partnership with the public sector; for regulatory frameworks to  create a level playing field for business and attract financial flows; for more workforce training, action and public investment to regain balance with nature and clean energy; for global collaboration on artificial intelligence and for consolidation of the fragmented landscape for ambitious achievement.

Currently only 15 per cent of the SDG targets are on track, progress on 48 per cent is weak and insufficient and progress has stalled or gone into reverse on 37 per cent of the SDGs. The United Nations Global Compact-Accenture Global Private Sector Stocktake report, which surveyed over 2,800 business leaders from around the world, showed the the vast majority (94%) of business leaders still view the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a unifying global vision but to achieve them the private sector must focus on the areas where they can have the most impact. 

To respond to this call, the UN Global Compact has launched Forward Faster, a new initiative to accelerate private sector action at the pace and scale needed to deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meet the 2030 Agenda. 

Speaking during the event, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said: “Time is running out to create the positive change the world so desperately needs. We must all join forces to create a more prosperous and resilient global community. We must move forward faster.” 

The session entitled Uniting Leaders for Business Integrity  looked at the importance of business integrity as a driver for impact across the SDG Calls to Action on living wage, climate change, water stewardship, gender equality and SDG investments.

During the Leaders Summit, Gary White, CEO and Co-founder of water.org and WaterEquity and Matt Damon, Co-founder of water.org, looked at how water is one of best investments the world can make to achieve global gender equality, create climate change resilience, and help end the cycle of poverty during the session Moving Forward Faster to Scale Positive Impact in 100 Basins.

Members of the UN Global Compact CFO Coalition for the SDGs examined the central role Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) play in ensuring that private capital flows to the SDGs and that companies make the necessary investments for the sustainability transition and can raise the necessary capital in the session Embracing Systemic Changes in Corporate Finance for the Agenda 2030.

Accelerating a Just Transition to Net-Zero Emissions Globally featured business leaders who are

prioritizing emissions reductions and taking concrete actions to advance a just transition. In Making Living Wage a Reality Expert organizations outlined the groundwork of what it means to pay a living wage and leading companies discussed what this looks like in practice. Meanwhile Equal Pay 2023: Insights from the Global South looked at successful strategies governments and businesses have successfully lobbied and advocated for equal pay through legislation and within their organizations.

In Towards nature-positive business: Take action on the climate-biodiversity nexus leading private sector and key organizations’ representatives demonstrated the relevance of the intersecting climate-nature crisis to business, laid out how companies can start their nature-positive journey and showcased best practices to reverse nature and biodiversity loss.

In Moving Business from Commitment to Action on Human Rights and Labour Rights the panel exchanged insights into specific steps their companies have taken, lessons learned in implementing Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD), and the influence HRDD processes have had up and down their value chains.

During the Leaders Summit, the UN Global Compact also announced its twelve new SDG Pioneers —  business leaders who are doing an exceptional job to advance the SDGs through the implementation of the Ten Principles of UN Global Compact on human rights, environment, labor and anti-corruption. 

Notes to Editors

About the UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies worldwide to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 18,000 companies and 3,800 non-business signatories based in over 101 countries, and 62 Local Networks, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.


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