3 things to know about our Sustainable Development Impact Summit

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer, Formative Content


How can we accelerate action on sustainable development?

Global leaders are set to take stock of the 17 goals they’ve set themselves at a meeting on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit (SDIS) on September 23-24 brings together hundreds of leaders from government, business and civil society to help find solutions to major challenges around climate change, health, inclusion and technology.

Here are three things you should know about their gathering:

In 2015, world leaders established 17 goals to help create a more equal world.
Image: United Nations

It has two climate-friendly world leaders as co-chairs

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera Echenique and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, are co-chairing this year’s summit, alongside the CEO of IKEA Retail, the Chair of Booking.com and the co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

In September 2018, the Netherlands committed $5.5 million to the P4G partnerships initiative for sustainable global growth, with Mark Rutte saying: “We must act in concert with other nations because no country and no government can fight climate change alone.”

Chile, which is hosting the Santiago Climate Change Conference in December 2019, has pledged to phase out coal plants by 2040.

It’s putting displaced people at the heart of investment

Unlocking capital for the displaced and marginalized will be a key focus. In January 2019, the Forum launched a Humanitarian Investing Initiative to support long-term investment for the management of aid and refugee settlement.

The scale of global displacement is huge, affecting more than 70 million people worldwide. In recent years, there has been an increase in refugee lens investing: funding initiatives that help give the most vulnerable the tools they need to integrate – whether that’s learning new skills or setting up small businesses.

“The humanitarian response system is important work for providing basic necessities for survival, but everyone engaged recognizes it is not sustainable,” Refugee Investment Network founder John Kluge recently told Euromoney.

It’s encouraging entrepreneurialism

The skills demanded for jobs are forecast to change dramatically by 2020, and at least 1 in 4 workers in OECD countries is already reporting a mismatch in their current role.

Part of the problem is that more than half of the world’s population isn’t yet online.The industries enabled by the Fourth Industrial Revolution are likely to reshape the global economy – but those living in hard-to-reach areas with no connectivity are missing out on opportunities.

The Forum’s Internet for All initiative is already having an impact, introducing blended finance to connectivity investing and helping to get people online in Rwanda and South Africa.

That’s where gatherings like SDIS come in, with participants discussing how to bolster local entrepreneurship and innovation, so that global growth is more equitable, and fewer people are left behind.

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