Sustainable business is smart business: RBF 2016

Bringing together key figures in the private and public sectors, this year’s Responsible Business Forum will offer lessons on how business can be a force for good and harnessed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development this year will focus on how businesses can play a role in shaping the future of the world through the Sustainable Development Goals. Image: Global Initiatives

One year after the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development returns to Singapore with a challenge to the private sector: How to reduce poverty, raise living standards and protect the environment? 

Happening from Nov 22 to 24 at the Marina Bay Sands, this business forum is the United Nations Development Programme’s first in Asia dedicated to discussing the SDGs. It will gather 600 international business, government and NGO leaders, who will explore the topic: “Innovation and Collaboration to Deliver the Global Goals”.

The global goals refer to none other than the SDGs, a set of goals drawn up by the United Nations (UN) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and adopted in September last year as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals. They outline 17 focus areas to work on in order to achieve the outcomes of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all people. 

Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Asia-Pacific, said there was a need for systemic change today as the world’s population faces unprecedented population aging, rising temperatures, and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. 

“It may seem like an enormous challenge, but we have a plan, the SDGs, and we have the knowledge and resources to make our world sustainable,” he added.   

Speakers at the forum include UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh, Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and chief economist of ING Mark Cliffe. More than 50 leading corporate brands will attend the event as well.

On the role that businesses can play in achieving social objectives and the business case for sustainability, Tony Gourlay, CEO of Global Initiatives, the firm behind the Responsible Business Forum, said: “Today, a smart business model is a sustainable one. Companies that practice sustainably are not only better positioned to respond to the economic, social, environmental and regulatory shifts we are experiencing, but their investors also benefit from higher returns.”

On the first day of the forum, there will be a session on gender equality within food and agriculture companies and  a collaborative funding platform for sustainable projects will be launched. On the second day, discussions will centre on how to contribute to zero poverty and affordable energy. On the last day, topics explored focus on climate change and responsible consumption. 

The full agenda for the forum can be found here

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Coordinator in Malaysia for UNDP emphasised the need for stronger collaboration in a statement.

“As the global community moves forward to deliver a comprehensive and ambitious global development agenda that leaves no one behind, we must forge a strong collaboration with the private sector and other partners to support governments in achieving Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.”

RBF is co-organised by event management company Global Initiatives, which promotes partnership solutions to global challenges. Eco-Business is the appointed media partner for RBF 2016. 

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