By: Adva Saldinger | Associate Editor at Devex Impact | October 1st, 2015

Now that the UN has announced the SDGs, companies need to make them sustainable. (Photo: Unsplash)

Below is an excerpt from The private sector has a seat at the table, now it's time to step up, originally published on Devex.

The momentum has been building for years, and this past week in New York has demonstrated that the era of greater private sector participation in development has arrived.

From a series of business-related events and summits to the United Nations, the sense from our own Devex Impact conversations with executives as well our coverage of the proceedings is that companies have featured much more prominently in what is undeniably one of development’s biggest weeks of an important year.

Perhaps one example was the U.N. Private Sector Forum, where an impressive lineup included the likes of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and musician and ONE Campaign activist Bono. It was certainly a case of the A-listers showing up to the business meeting.

Bono illustrated the shift in thinking that has taken place in his remarks.

“I’m late to realizing that it’s you guys, it’s the private sector, it’s commerce that’s going to take the majority of people out of extreme poverty and, as an activist, I almost found that hard to say,” he said.

It seems clear that despite virtually no engagement in the process of creating the Millennium Development Goals, business is proud of its role in the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Numerous business leaders Devex Impact spoke to said that the involvement in crafting the goals has contributed to much greater buy-in among the private sector. That sense of pride could be heard in the speeches and added to the celebratory environment at several events, including a Shared Value Initiative breakfast. 

But when you ask for a seat at the table, as many in the private sector have done, it also means you have to step up. And that is the task that now lies ahead.

Companies are still familiarizing themselves with the goals and targets — there are some complaints about the sheer number of them, but the agenda seems to have been accepted. More than a few of the leaders we interviewed said that complexity of the framework means it will take time to understand and determine points of convergence between the SDGs and their business.

The above was an excerpt from The private sector has a seat at the table, now it's time to step up, originally published on Devex.

For more on the week's events, watch this wrap-up of the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting convening leaders from across sectors. Global Goals featured heavily on the agenda, and Devex reports that Bill Clinton himself is optimistic that although issues like climate change loom large, the "trend lines" are more important than the headlines.

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