Nairobi, Thursday, 3 December 2020: More than 2,000 African business leaders from across 35 countries and the UN today convened to inform, inspire and catalyze collective approaches in this Decade of Action in Africa to realize the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and Agenda 2063 on the continent. The forum comes at a decisive moment in an effort to create a peaceful, prosperous future for Africa.
Businesses have been called to develop strategies for their long-term sustainability, even as they provide products and services to address the needs of their customers, their clients and their communities.
Opening the Making Global Goals Local Business forum, UN Deputy Secretary-General, H.E Amina Mohammed noted that as governments across Africa develop economic stimulus packages, they must be cognizant of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises who have suffered immense losses in terms of business closure and jobs.
Addressing the private sector, she noted that, “I urge the private sector to work together to drive sustainable investment, maintain access to international markets, put the brakes on corruption and strengthen support for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across Africa, the private sector and governments are working together to demonstrate strong leadership and partnerships. “As we enter further waves of the pandemic, we must make sure that the spirit of solidarity is not lost as we move beyond COVID-19,” Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director and CEO, UN Global Compact said during the opening plenary.
Speaking during the forum, Ms. Phyllis Wakiaga, CEO Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Board Chair, Global Compact Network Kenya noted that governance and strong institutions will be critical during the Decade of Action. “Early this year, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy President and Global Compact Network Kenya, launched the SDG Readiness Report presenting opportunities for all industries to embrace new innovative ideas to fast-track progress in realizing the global goals.”
In the gender equality session, Ms. Jane Karuku, CEO Kenya Breweries Limited highlighted the parent company, East African Breweries Limited, pursuit to achieve gender parity by 2025.
In his remarks at the anti-corruption session, Mr. John Ngumi, Board Chair, Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) said, “In the public sector, there is need for brave men and women to take leadership and this has to be backed up by a high-level commitment to step up and fight corruption”.
Mr. Samuel Kimeu, Board Member of the African Union Advisory Board Against Corruption echoed, “There is need for a collaborative effort that brings together the private sector, civil society and media to effectively fight corruption in the continent.”
Now more than ever, the ten principles of the UN Global Compact covering human rights, labour, the environment and the fight against corruption, are more relevant and critical in laying the foundation for strong and resilient businesses. As the pandemic lingers these principles can help businesses maintain their standing in society and guide them towards sustainable and purposeful recovery.
The Making Global Goals Local Business forum demonstrated how the SDGs are truly the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetime.