Mumbai, 22 March 2017 – The UN India Business Forum, a new initiative to harness the collective strength of government, the private sector and the UN to address India’s most challenging problems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was launched here on Wednesday.
The forum brings together the leaders of Indian business who have been instrumental to India’s emerging success story, the government, represented by NITI Aayog, and United Nations agencies operating in India.
Speaking at the launch, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, called on the private sector to play a major and critical role and pledged NITI Aayog’s support in “[enabling] the government to work with private companies” and “convert this vision into a business movement”.
Among business leaders, there was a recognition that this would call for a strategic shift in how the private sector engages with development issues. Most of the engagement with social problem-solving for big businesses has centred around corporate social responsibility programmes. Top executives agreed that this needs to change, and sustainability needs to be integrated into businesses. Another challenge identified was on how to scale up the lessons learnt from the innovative solutions adopted by smaller enterprises.
Welcoming the leaders of some of the most dynamic businesses in India, UN Resident Coordinator Yuri Afanasiev stressed that the UN was “a convener, or a moderator” to facilitate dialogue between government and businesses. Mr. Afanasiev pointed out that the SDG Business Forum is about finding the most pressing developmental problems in India and identifying commercially viable business models for how to scale up solutions.”
Discussions on key sectors followed on March 23, including but not limited to: Health and nutrition; off-grid energy; quality education; women’s economic empowerment; housing for all; and water and sanitation. The emphasis was on identifying how the business opportunity afforded by the SDGs could be best leveraged to fulfil the promises of “leaving no one behind” and “sabka saath, sabka vikas”.
More about UN Business Forum here.