Business sector essential partner in achieving sustainable development, UN forum concludes

Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development counts on the Asia-Pacific region developing new forms of partnerships with businesses that go beyond the delivery of traditional government-to-government official development assistance and technical support, according to the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the thirteenth Asia-Pacific Business Forum (ABPF) this week.

“Such partnerships must go deeper and should focus on key areas of inclusive and sustainable development that are of mutual interest, including science, technology and innovation, human resource development, infrastructure development and multi-dimensional South-South cooperation,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

“The private sector can make profound contributions to regional integration and sustainable development,” noted Dr. Akhtar, adding that research indicates 71 per cent of businesses are already planning on how to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 41 per cent will embed the SDGs into their business operations. Through delivering on the SDGs, the private sector stands to potentially benefit 12trillion USD worth of business opportunities globally, which could create almost 380 million jobs by 2030.

Inaugurating the ABPF yesterday, H.E. Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh highlighted that Bangladesh recognized the need to actively support its businesses, of all sizes, as the principal agents of trade and investment, and promote their sustainability and integration into global value chains.

Under the theme “regional integration to achieve sustainable development”, this year’s Forum was organized by ESCAP in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

More than 500 high-level professionals from both the public and private sector participated during the Forum, including Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Dr. Victor K. Fung, Former Global Chairman of ICC and Chairman of Fung Group; plus ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The two-day Forum concluded with recommendations on specific areas of business related to sustainable development such as the role of business in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, assisting governments in energy infrastructure investment for low-carbon future, and supporting trade and transport facilitation for regional integration.

Participants also renewed their commitment to strengthen the regional business community to meet the challenges of the need for corporate sustainability, the complexities of the regulatory environment, and the 2030 Agenda.

The Asia-Pacific Business Forum is the flagship regional business forum organized by ESCAP. Launched in 2004, the ABPF provides an effective annual platform for regional public-private sector dialogue on the role and needs of business in achieving inclusive, resilient and sustainable development.