Business opportunities and SDGs

Efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 2015 onwards will only be successful if civil society, citizens and the private sector work alongside governments to actively promote the goals’ implementation and monitoring, according to the participants of the SDG panel held at the Ethos 360⁰ Conference in São Paulo.  Ethos 360⁰ is the largest meeting on sustainable business in Latin America. Held five years in a row, it now attracts major players from the private sector. The panel event, organised on 25 September, discussed the opportunities arising from the implementation of the SDGs for the private sector.

Layla Saad, Deputy Director of the World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre), stated that the private sector is one of the main drivers of innovation, investment and job creation. Therefore, it plays a critical role in moving away from harmful practices towards ones that successfully incorporate the principles of a global sustainability agenda into the core of its operations.  New production, distribution and procurement practices, among others, must transcend borders and charter the way to even more responsible business operations, even if weak government legislation and/or international trade agreements do not require companies to adopt them.

“The only way that we will achieve truly sustainable development is by promoting and attaining justice – social justice, environmental justice and economic justice –  and by establishing a fair and competent governance structure”, said the Deputy Director of the RIO+ Centre.

The added, “Moving towards sustainable development will require changing the explicit and implicit “rules” of development to shift them in favour of those who have, up until now, not benefitted equally from economic progress. This means making hard choices and trade-offs.”

In her presentation, she also stated that as many citizens and interest groups as possible should be brought on board so that sustainable development stops being an agenda that is only talked about and becomes a way of life based on principles of fairness, dignity and integrated development. “It must become the way that we decide to measure and assess our progress and success as people, nations and the world. This will only be possible if it is made relevant to the realities of countries and their people, each with their own particularities.”

The panel was moderated by Jorge Abrahão, the Director-President of the Ethos Institute. In addition to Saad, the panel included: Gilberto Carvalho, Chief Minister of the Secretariat of the Presidency of Brazil; Mario Mottin, General Coordinator for Sustainable Development at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Climène Koechlin, Director of the World Forum Lille; Huguette Labelle, member of the UN Global Compact Board; Renata Seabra, Executive Secretary of the Brazilian Committee of the UN Global Compact (, and Victor Viñuales, co-founder of ECODES (Spain).

To find out more about what was published on this panel, consult the webpages of Ethos, Global Compact and UN Brazil.

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