UN Global Compact Virtual Leaders’ Summit Discuss Resurging Business Amid COVID-19

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New Delhi: Marking the 20th Anniversary of the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit, the virtual summit brought together leading voices from Business, Government, the United Nations, Civil Society and Academia, on June 15 and 16, 2020, for a 26-hour conversation on how we can rebuild more inclusive economies and societies to set a new course for a socially just, low-carbon and climate-resilient world, where no one is left behind to achieve the SDGs.

With more than 20,000 attendees registered for more than 100 global, regional and local sessions, UNGC’s 20th Anniversary Virtual Leaders’ Summit provided a platform where leaders from business, civil society and the United Nations were challenged to increase their ambition to achieve the SDGs. The participants sought solutions and formulated corrective actions on how we can rebuild more inclusive economies and societies to set a new course for a socially just, low-carbon and climate-resilient world, where no one is left behind.

“Where once “do no harm” was the common approach for business communities, today we are arriving at a new landscape of elevated expectations and responsibilities. Now more than ever, companies need to address environmental, social, and governance risks and move beyond business as usual. I am encouraged to see so many countries of so many sizes and from so many sectors recognising the urgent need of global unity and international cooperation. Our shared aims to see businesses integrating these principles into their core strategy and operations, taking strong steps to support the SDGs, and reporting publicly on progress,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres at the UN Global Compact Virtual Leaders’ Summit.

Global Compact Network India (GCNI) – A local arm of the United Nations Global Compact, New York, hosted the India Session of the 20th Anniversary of Virtual Leaders’ Summit on June 16, 2020, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, allowing participants and Global Compact Local Network to participate from India at the UN Global Compact 20th Anniversary Leaders’ Summit happening from New York, USA.

The theme of GCNI’s Virtual Leaders’ Summit 2020 was: ‘Towards Resurgent India:  Aligning Business with SDGs’, keeping in line with UNGC’s Virtual Leaders’ Summit that focuses on – ‘Recover Better, Recover Stronger, Recover Together’ in response to COVID-19. The Summit had participants including CEOs, CXOs, and Heads of Corporate organisations including the Public Sector, besides representatives from Academia, Civil Society and UN entities from across India. The India Session presented India Inc.’s collective effort to employ SDGs and 10 UNGC Principles as an effective response to this dreaded pandemic and showcase Indian Best Practices and inspiring case studies on how India Inc plans to use the current learning from COVID-19 to sustain the New Normal in the near future.

Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, while giving the keynote address said, “We have to look at the triple bottom line rather than focusing only on profits. What Adam Smith has taught us is not prevailing anymore. The world is changing; so should business practices.”

Renata Dessallien, United Nations Resident Coordinator in India said, “The private sector in India is the backbone of our recovery. Creativity and ingenuity run through the DNA of this country, like few I’ve seen before. I am confident that the CEOs, entrepreneurs and innovators of India Inc will be able to create breakthrough green technologies so India can build back better, leaving no one behind, and make great strides towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Kamal Singh, Executive Director, Global Compact Network India said, “We need to foster a new generation of partnerships and the role of the corporate sector is crucial to achieving our common goals. If we can come together in solidarity to turn the tide on this pandemic, surely, we also have what it takes to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and create the world we want.”

Manasi Tata, UN in India Young Business Champion for the SDGs said, “I am proud to be a part of a generation of young women and men who have the opportunity to truly make a difference – to not only be socially and environmentally responsible but develop innovative solutions and the most relevant impact projects that will create a sustainable post-COVID world.”

India’s commitment to the SDGs is reflected in its convergence with the national development agenda as reflected in the motto of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas (Collective Efforts for Inclusive Growth). Based on the evidence from the SDG India Index, which measures progress at the subnational level, the country has developed a robust SDG localisation model centred on adoption, implementation and monitoring at the State and district levels.

Key Takeaways:

  • Facilitating a more inclusive and connected nation by leveraging networks that can allow corporates to truly make a difference during these times
  • Utilizing virtual and digital to their fullest potential to drive environmental and social challenges agendas as well as ensure essential information reaches those it is intended for
  • Collaborating and collective action for better and wider outreach

Other renowned personalities who graced the event were:

  • Dr Bhaskar Chatterjee, Senior Director, IILM and Former DG, IICA, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, GoI
  • Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Country Director, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Salesforce, India & South Asia
  • SP Shukla, Member – Group Executive Board, Group President – Agri, Aero, Defence & Steel Sectors & Chairman – Group Sustainability Council of Mahindra Group
  • Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Representative, UN Women MCO for India, Bhutan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka
  • Mahendra Singhi, MD & CEO, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd.
  • Meenakshi Batra, CEO, CAF India
  • Dr H Chaturvedi, Director, BIMTECH
  • Dr Uddesh Kohli, Senior Advisor, UN Global Compact