Progress against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have stalled over the course of the past two years. There are myriad causes for this in the United States, including lack of environmental regulation, food shortages and deserts, and widening inequalities. Rather than progress, global greenhouse gas emissions are set to increase by almost 14% over the current decade, even with current national commitments. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a multiplying effect that continues to exacerbate these issues.
The US private sector is a critical lever for generating much needed solutions globally. Agenda 2030 envisions a secure world free of poverty, hunger, and an end to environmental degradation, and achieving this will require companies to increase their ambition on the SDGs. The US private sector must have a trusted partner to navigate these complex issues, making the value of a partnership with the UN Global Compact’s Network USA even more critical to the US’s business community.
“I encourage any organization that has not yet signed the Compact to join now because we need you,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. “Resolution of the intractable problems we face cannot come from governments alone. We need non-government organizations (NGO) and civil society, we need academics and scholars, and we most certainly need the business community.”
Network USA is the Local Network chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, supporting US businesses and subsidiaries of multinational corporations in implementing the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles and SDGs. Network USA currently has more than 900 signatory companies and works with them to identify sustainability challenges and opportunities, provide practical guidance, and promote action supporting broader UN goals.
Member companies often take advantage of the Accelerators: educational programs designed to train internal teams to help generate behavior change across companies. These Accelerators help companies understand and implement practical solutions to integrating the 17 SDGs into core business managemen and train future business leaders to develop, drive, and scale innovative solutions through new technologies and inclusive business models. Network USA is growing its staff in 2023 and developing additional accelerator programming in diversity, equity, and inclusion to meet the growing demand for guidance and support from the private sector.
During last September’s UN General Assembly, Network USA hosted SDG Summit USA. This sold-out event welcomed over 400 attendees and brought together nearly 200 US companies who actively support the UN Secretary General’s call to align their strategies and operations with universal principles. In addition, Network USA showcased the actions of the US private sector through a series of panel discussions highlighting steps companies can take to increase ambition, innovation, and implementation of the SDGs into core business operations.
“Businesses have become increasingly more trusted on the global stage; therefore, expectations for companies to do more for society have increased. Businesses are seen and expected to take a positive leadership role in all elements,” said Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director and CEO of the UN Global Compact.
She emphasized the need for US companies to integrate sustainability throughout their operations. “We have also seen a shift in how the private sector views sustainability and its role in securing a company’s future,” said Ojiambo. “We took a recent survey of signatories, and it told us that companies are becoming more interested in sustainability as one of the critical drivers for responsible business and strengthening their brand perception.”
Achieving Agenda 2030 and meeting the demands of the present moment for future generations will require accelerating our collective efforts. Therefore, companies must identify and strategically prioritize actions that will advance their contribution to global goals and set aggressive targets with absolute benchmarks. Network USA is committed to working with American companies to drive this progress forward.