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Sustainable Development Goals: Two Years On - International Conference
Madrid, 27 September 2017. Two years ago, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were unanimously adopted by 193 countries at the United Nations in New York. Yesterday SUST4IN, the sustainability experts, organized the International Conference “Sustainable Development Goals: Two Years On” in Madrid to celebrate the anniversary and to assess, for the second year, how the SDGs are being financed and implemented by investors and companies.
Marcio Viegas, founder and managing director of SUST4IN, who was in New York last week for the UN Global Goals Week and in July for the UN High Level Political Forum and SDG Business Forum, opened the event saying “The new definition of sustainable development, set by the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, is not just about future generations. It is about what is happening now: from the migrants’ calamities to hurricanes. We, not just the UN and its members, need to take urgent action”.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the SDGs, made the first keynote speech. Despite being confirmed just before the event and speaking at 4am from New York, Prof Sachs, who is also the director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), was full of energy and presented a list of initiatives taking place from Bogota to Kuala Lumpur, the move to a low carbon economy by various countries, including Spain, and highlighted “serious companies are quickly taking actions, such as the transition to electric vehicles, by automotive companies. More sector need to embrace the change”.
The “Future of Spaceship Earth” report was presented by Juan Andrés Salido, Assessment Services Business Development Manager, DNV GL, who forecasted “by the current pace, the world will not achieve the SDGs even by 2050” and made a case for urgent and effective actions so that the report’s somber forecast does not happen.
The first Spanish impact fund directly linked to SDGs, Bankia Futuro Sostenible, was explained by Pablo Hernández, Head of Distribution and Product Strategy, Bankia Asset Management, who said “we are investing in companies that are developing SDGs’ related businesses while keeping the fund profitable”.
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever and Chairman, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who was also in New York last week, made an inspiring keynote speech, live from London, highlighting the opportunities of delivering the SDGs, the role of business, and the most urgent areas for accelerated action. ““There is no business case for rising inequality and increasing pressure on our planetary boundaries. The good news is that we have the answer to these major global challenges: the Sustainable Development Goals.”, said Polman.
The next keynote speaker, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, former minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and President of the UN SDSN – Spain, strongly emphasized “There is no alternative to sustainable development” and highlighted the need to innovate also with financial instruments, such as “SDG bonds”.
The event concluded with a call for action by Viegas: “The SDGs are good business, on top of our moral responsibilities, with a $12 trillion prize per year and 380 million new jobs. But we need to act now, otherwise we will be called irresponsible by the refugees, by our children and by our investors”.
Keynote speaker: Paul Polman
Paul Polman has been the CEO of Unilever since January 2009. Under his leadership Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Paul has been closely involved in global discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and action to tackle climate change. In 2016, Paul was asked by the UN Secretary-General to be a member of the SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Prior to this, Paul served on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on the SDGs on behalf of the private sector. He is a member of the newly formed Business and Sustainable Development Commission.
Paul actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable business strategies and drive systemic change. He is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of the B Team and sits on the Board of the UN Global Compact and the Consumer Goods Forum, where he co-chairs the Sustainability Committee.
Keynote speaker: Miguel Ángel Moratinos
Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé has committed his professional and political activity to international relationships and development cooperation. He graduated in Law and Political Sciences at the University Complutense in Madrid, and then in Diplomatic Studies at the Spanish Diplomatic School. He entered Spain’s diplomatic service in 1977.
He was appointed by the European Union as EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, from 1996 to 2003. From 2004 until 2010 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, where he held the presidency of the United Nations Security Council and the chairmanships in-office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and the Council of the European Union. From 2012 to 2013 he was member of the high level advisory panel of the president of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Since 2011, he teaches at Sciences Po Paris. Actually he promotes the signature of the International Treaty for a Global Dry Land Alliance in Qatar, he is Honorary Chairman of the CIRSD Board of Advisers (Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development), Senior Advisor of Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, member of the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and President of the UN SDSN Spanish Network, REDS.
Keynote speaker: Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders. He was called by the New York Times, “probably the most important economist in the world,” and by Time Magazine “the world’s best known economist.” A recent survey by The Economist Magazine ranked Professor Sachs as among the world’s three most influential living economists of the past decade.
Professor Sachs served as the Director of the Earth Institute from 2002 to 2016. He was appointed University Professor at Columbia University in 2016, and also serves as Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the Sustainable Development Goals, and previously advised both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. Sachs is currently Director of both the Center for Sustainable Development, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
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