Tuesday, Sept. 29
Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury told reporters that 20 percent of the population in Jordan is now Syrian and that Jordan’s ability to sustain its response to the refugee crisis “has reached a saturation point.”
“We need new concessionary financing windows and tools to be made available to us so we are not penalized for the level of development we reach and we are not penalized for doing the moral and right thing,” Fakhoury said.
While many wonder whether the SDGs are just lofty rhetoric or will actually fundamentally change the way we do development, Devex Senior Director for Careers and Recruiting Kate Warren asks another question: What do the SDGs mean for your career as a development professional?
Read Kate’s three careers takeaways from New York Global Dev Week here.
Update: Distressing news about Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala emerged at the conclusion of an annual event otherwise focused on the future - of impact, of sustainable development, and of the U.S. presidency.
Shalala, who became president of the foundation in March, suffered a stroke after the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. "Initial reports are very encouraging," according to a statement from President Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation co-chair Chelsea Clinton. The Clintons shared that Shalala was with colleagues at the time of the incident and was taken to the hospital for treatment. “Please join Hillary, Chelsea and me in keeping Donna in your thoughts and prayers,” they wrote.
Devex went to a summit on the presidential campaign and the Clinton Global Initiative broke out. Or so it has seemed at times.
Despite this being the 10-year anniversary of CGI, as could be expected, the 2016 elections have factored large in any interview with the 42nd president. In his final cable news interview at CGI, President Clinton again took on the topic, defending his wife’s record as secretary of state and hitting out at the political forces that will either propel or nix her bid for the Oval Office. The mood was light and candid throughout much of his exchange with CNN’s Erin Burnett. In it, CGI’s founding chairman issued no shortage of zingers at the Republican field that elicited a range of chuckles and cheers from the audience. Clinton likened GOP campaigns to reality TV shows that the candidates have launched to build their unique brands — brands and platforms that he said are long on anger and short on ideas.
“You shouldn’t be able to insult your way to the White House,” he warned. “The day after you take the oath of office, you’re not on an episode of survivor.”
As to how active he plans to get on the campaign trail, Clinton admitted that he has so far taken a more passive role than in 2008. This year marks the 20-year anniversary of many events that occurred during his time in office – the Dayton Peace accords, Yitzhak Rabin’s death – so foundation-related work has kept him busy. Yet he hinted at a more active campaigning role post-CGI 2015.
Next up for his foundation commitments is a trip to Latin America that will focus on issues of energy security and strengthening rural value chains. Despite the region’s doldrums of low commodity prices and political scandal Clinton is bullish on inclusive growth prospects in Central and South America.
“Latin America is a great bet on the future. Ten years from now, you won’t recognize [it], for the better.”
Clinton’s full interview will air tonight on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront.
Gayle Smith, President Obama’s nominee for USAID Administrator, still hasn’t stepped into the role as head of the world’s largest bilateral donor. That’s because her appointment is stalled in the U.S. Senate due to partisan disagreement.
The current basis for the disagreement is unclear, but Republican Senator Ted Cruz stated in July that he is refusing to consider nominations for State Department positions because of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.
Devex Editor-In-Chief Raj Kumar sat down with U.S. Democratic Senator Chris Coons at the Clinton Global Initiative to discuss the current state of Smith’s appointment.
Diverse and inclusive talent that can look at problems in different ways is key to innovation, says Xerox CEO, Ursula Burns at the Clinton Global Initiative this morning.
As the only black, female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she understands that while programs aimed at female empowerment are important, you have to change the soul of the company to really affect change.
“I want people to know that engineers and scientists look like me”, she said and added her path from a low-income background to leading a corporation was far less purposeful than it was accidental. We need to have more examples and celebrate those examples so that more girls can see themselves growing up to be say, CEO of a global corporation.
“Helping to close the imagination gap” is important, added moderator Chelsea Clinton, because it is hard to imagine being what you can’t see.
The private sector is not alone in the struggle to develop women leaders. The global development sector doesn’t fare much better, ironic for an industry that promotes gender equality as one of its core tenets. Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, hit this point home when he acknowledged that there has never been a female secretary general of the United Nations and the campaign to finally appoint one when Ban Ki Moon’s term comes to an end.
So tell us, what women do you think could be the next UN Secretary General? Tweet us @Devex.
Devex Impact Associate Editor Adva Saldinger caught up with Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore at the Clinton Global Initiative to talk about innovation and how his company will tackle the SDGs.
He talked about how sometimes tackling social challenges and problems related to inequality can result in “collateral benefits”. Collymore gave the example of a project in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya where Safaricom set up cell sites in part to serve an education program that used tablets and didn’t expect to make a profit. But, it turns out, those cell sites are now among the company’s top 10 revenue earners.
How can the global development community capitalize on the agency that social media provides citizens? Global leaders and grassroots activists examined the role of tech and new media on social good initiatives at the Social Good Summit 2015 in New York. Devex associate editor Kelli Rogers gives us the rundown.
Monday, Sept. 28
With vast swathes of its terrain covered by Amazon rain forest, Colombia has an obvious interest in combating climate change. But on CGI’s Day Two closing plenary, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos linked sustainable development to another important fight that his country is currently engaged in: the war with FARC guerrillas.
More than 50 years of war with the left-wing group could be coming to an end soon. Last week Santos made a rare appearance in Havana, Cuba, where negotiations between his government and FARC leaders have been taking place since 2012, to announce a breakthrough agreement on transitional justice for the rebel combatants. It was considered one of the key sticking points to advancing peace talks. A final agreement is expected within six months.
And what’s it got to do with sustainable development? The rebel groups fund their activities largely through illegal forestry and mining, Santos noted. A peace deal and final disarmament would, in theory, scale back those activities. But Colombia still remains vulnerable to unpredictable climate patterns. Its economy runs mainly on hydropower sources that are subject to drought. And many of its low-income communities situated in mountainside slums are at risk of periodic landslides. Ninety-three percent of Colombians say that climate change affects their daily lives.
What is the single biggest problem facing oceans today?
“Ignorance,” said Sylvia Earle, founder and chairwoman of the The Sylvia Earle Alliance, at a session of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, which she attributed largely to people not knowing and not understanding the importance of oceans.
“Everything on land could die and the oceans would be fine, if everything in the oceans die, everything on land would die,” said actor and ocean activist Ted Danson.
While the importance to protecting our oceans and need to increase awareness was not up for much debate, how we go about making measurable progress towards tackling Sustainable Development Goal 14 — life below water — was less clear. However the panel, which also included the Republic of Seychelles President James Michel and Maria Jose Gonzalez, executive director of the Mesoamerican Reef Fund, did have the following recommendations:
1. Fish havens: Create more protected ecological zones in the ocean, like the one New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced at the U.N.General Assembly today. Earle said this is the single most important step.
2. Eyes on the ocean — Ted Danson offered a promising idea for reducing piracy — a Google and Sky Truth prototype for what is essentially a Google Maps for the ocean, which would track every major ocean liner in operation. If funded, the platform could allow the world to police notoriously hard to monitor locations like those in the Indian Ocean.
3. Accounting the value of nature — we have to think differently about nature, air and oceans — they are not free, said Earle.
What do you think will have the most impact on creating progress for SDG 14 and protecting our oceans? Tweet us @Devex.
David Rose, MIT media researcher, introduced Ditto Labs to the Social Good Summit audience. His work analyzes millions of photos on social media to help marketers identify their audience. Surely there’s a way for the global development community to put this "digital ethnography" to use? Rose asked the Social Good audience to send him ideas.
Innovative finance used to be — and perhaps still is — a dirty term that conjures up memories of risky investments that brought the house down in the 2008 financial crisis. But if it’s estimated to cost $15 trillion to achieve the SDGs by 2030 then the private sector has to be on board. And when talking about the private sector, big banks and big finance have to be part of the conversation.
More than having to, they’re wanting to.
“Sustainable investing is an idea whose time has come,” Caroline Antsey, global head of UBS and Society, the Swiss banking giant’s impact investing arm, told Devex in an exclusive interview. “If you look at green bonds or advanced market commitment vaccine bonds, there is a role for finance to provide a solution for where there has been a market failure in the provision of a global public good.”
UBS is the principal investor in the world’s first development impact bond, which finances Rajasthan, India-based NGO Educate Girls. It’s a three-year project that through outcome payor Children’s Investment Fund Foundation will pay out UBS for every increase in female primary school enrollment and the attainment of other educational targets. The arrangement officially launched in July. While it’s small change for a bank that manages more than $2 trillion of assets, the program is an early stage illustration of big finance aligning its proprietary capital towards social development targets. For Educate Girls, founder and Executive Director Safeena Husain said the provision of investment capital is an innovative way for them and similar NGOs to design outcomes-based projects with greater flexibility than traditional grants.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data launched at the Waldorf Astoria, and saw “lightning” commitments from a range of data-focused organizations and donors, including a commitment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Most agree the Sustainable Development Goals won’t succeed without a significant effort to improve baseline country data and to make the data that does exist more useful and higher quality. Not everyone is so confident the #DataRevolution will deliver on its promises though. Justin Sandefur, research fellow at the Center for Global Development, tweeted the following:
There’s one notion of entrepreneurship that Elizabeth Gore, entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, hopes will die a slow death — the idea that there’s a difference between “entrepreneurs” and “social entrepreneurs.” Fellow Social Good Summit panelist, Ugandan-born Ashish Thakkar, has turned a small computer trading operation into a $100 million conglomerate by thinking of people, planet and profit. She stressed that It doesn’t have to be either/or.
What’s the story with USAID administrator nominee Gayle Smith’s stalled confirmation? What are the prospects for critical pieces of development legislation currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress? Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar spoke with Sen. Chris Coons to hear what the future holds for global development lawmaking and leadership.
Savannah Guthrie, IMC Worldwide's Rebecca Milner and IMC Worldwide Global Ambassador Sienna Miller on stage at Day Two of the Social Good Summit discuss the impact of crisis on women worldwide.
Sienna Miller, who has travelled to DRC and Lebanon with IMC: "Solutions to our greatest global conflicts need to be political, not just humanitarian."
Carlos Lopes, U.N. executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, spoke frankly regarding his concerns about the SDG agenda.
Speaking at a high-level panel on Africa’s perspective of the SDGs, Lopes told the president of the African Development Bank, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, the secretary-general of the OECD, African government officials and others that the SDG agenda “is very difficult to implement.”
He listed three challenges: that the economic, social and environmental goals wouldn’t be fully integrated, that not all countries will be held accountable to all of the SDGs and that it isn’t fair to hold all countries to the same standards.
The international community may end up with “a semblance of universality,” Lopes said. But in reality the unfair playing field created with the MDGs where Africa was running a marathon while other parts of the world were in a sprint is left unresolved going into the SDGs.
Lopes’ comments sparked a tense discussion on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Secretary-general of the OECD Angel Gurria fired back that we should be excited about the SDG agenda the international community has created and the roadmap that has been put in place.
“We should be celebrating … Africa must, Africa can, Africa will,” Gurria said.
An app to fix inequality? In this mobile world, why not? Of course while a download from the iTunes store can’t solve all of the world’s problems, mobile resources like iCow — an app that provides farmers with real time agricultural information to enhance their productivity — can help democratize information.
Day Two of CGI 2015 kicked off with an opening plenary on inequality, addressing the disparities that exist in both gender and economic opportunities. Seventy percent of the world’s population lives in countries where there is greater economic inequality than 20 years ago. And 75 million young people around the world are unemployed today.
Expanding educational opportunities is the most basic way to address the issue. And a panel that included Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and actress and women’s equality advocate Jessica Biel urged collective action by governments, businesses and civil society.
The plenary hit on a recurring theme of Global Dev Week — the connecting power of information and communication technology.
“More people have access to mobile phones than to toilets,” said Robert Collymore, chief executive of Safaricom, the largest telecom provider in East Africa. Mobile learning devices are now making their way into Kenya’s largest refugee camps and apps such as iCow put a new twist on “moooo-bility.”
Jessica Biel, actress and co-founder of WomanCare Global, getting personal in her remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. Biel talks about her own experience learning about reproductive health late in life with her first pregnancy.
Devex reports from midtown Manhattan, where President Obama, Malala, the Pope and many others have thrown their weight behind the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Plenty of questions remain about this development agenda — like how will the international development community hold leaders to account for the statements of support they’re making this week?
Sunday, Sept. 27
Virtual reality is all the rage this year. The ONE campaign’s “poverty is sexist” reception showcased virtual reality viewing booths, where attendees donned headsets and earphones to “meet” Monica, a girl living near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Monica fights energy poverty and balances household duties, while striving to succeed in school.
After a long day of bilateral meetings at U.N. General Assembly, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo helped Bryant Park food stand Waffles and Dinges whip up some truly authentic Belgian waffles. Waffles and Dinges owner Rossanna Figuera, a former U.N. diplomat, is using her popular food business to help spread the importance of the SDG 8 — decent work and economic growth — by outfitting her employees with t-shirts sporting the global goal. One of the prime minister’s advisers joked that the SDGs should really stand for “sweet development goals” as they noshed on their leader's confection.
“There is some plumbing involved in changing the world, it’s not all videos with escalating music,” said LittleBits founder Ayah Bdeir when asked about why more millennials aren’t involved in social innovation. She finds that millennials are a little too involved, she said at the panel organized by Good at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. The day-to-day work of a startup is not glamorous. This generation wants to do good and have a purpose but sometimes that means spending weeks on end sitting and working through Excel spreadsheets, Bdeir said.
While the American perspective may be that many high school and university students think they have great ideas and have the confidence and opportunity to pursue them, but that isn’t the case in all parts of the world, said Abuzar Royesh, founder of the One Two Three Project and an Afghan refugee. When you grow up in an environment where there isn’t much prospect for the future, you aren’t sure if you will live another day or another year and it kills the entrepreneurial spirit, he said.
“Doing well by doing good,” a phrase that sounds familiar to us at Devex, is what this generation and future generations are increasingly looking for in their careers, said Good co-founder and director Max Schorr.
While the room was filled mostly by corporations, which increasingly understand providing social impact opportunities to their employees is a critical part of competing for top talent, this can only mean good things for global development organizations where it is inherent in the work they do. The challenge ahead for NGOs and donor agencies may increasingly be competing for that talent with the private sector.
“Social Media is the New First Responder” panel happening now at the Social Good Summit. Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s vice president of social media for public good notes the impact of features like Facebook’s “donate here” button and safety check, which helps people in disaster areas communicate with loved ones.
At a Help a Child Reach 5 roundtable discussion focused on improving maternal and child health through hygiene Unilever CEO Paul Polman said that as leaders work to establish SDG indicators hygiene should not be forgotten.
With the MDGs it took five years to establish indicators, if it takes that long again “it would be a missed opportunity,” he said, but added that there are many people, including U.N. Development Program’s Helen Clark, who are leading the charge to develop indicators by the time SDGs are put into action next year.
He was joined by WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Asoke Kumar Mukerji , Merck for Mothers’ Naveen Rao and Help A Child Reach 5 Ambassadors Kajol, a Bollywood actress and Chit Thu Wai, a singer from Myanmar.
There’s certainly a lot going on right now! Trying to decide where you should head next? Check out Devex’s list of Global Dev Week events and plan accordingly.
If you had 100 million dollars to invest in resilient health systems, where would you spend it?
This was a question sent in via Twitter and posed to a high level plenary panel at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. The rapid fire Q&A garnered the following responses:
“I would invest it in developing networks in developing countries. Developing local networks is the best place to have a return on your investment.” — Michel Liès, group CEO, Swiss Reinsurance Company
“Without a doubt, immunizations and vaccines. It is the best money you can ever invest and save lives.” — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair-elect, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; former finance minister of Nigeria
“Well, it’s going to Africa for one. I would diversify it, put it in a lot of pockets so it doesn’t just feed one problem because they all play into each other.” — Charlize Theron, actress, founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and United Nations Messenger of Peace
“I would invest it in maternal health, one of the goals in the MDGs we missed by a lot.” — Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
The Clinton Global Initiative is bringing global development into the world of virtual reality, with Bill Clinton himself leading a virtual tour through East Africa. Can VR technology be a powerful tool for building empathy and telling more effective stories? Attendees at CGI’s annual meeting got a first hand look at a virtual world.
At the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting, Devex Impact Associate Editor Adva Saldinger sat down with Joyce Banda, the former president of Malawi, to talk about the country’s new law prohibiting child marriage and efforts to enhance girls’ education, women's entrepreneurship and government transparency.
Stay tuned to Devex for this, and many more interviews from Global Dev Week in New York.
Hopefully not during a discussion on renewable energy ...
While the world may have quickly forgotten about the recent Ebola crisis, the virus is still out there warned Merck Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier in a discussion with Bill Clinton and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Clinton Global Initiative this afternoon.
“That makes me shudder,” said Sirleaf. I can't go home and say that, so where are the vaccines, she pressed Frazier.
“Unfortunately we won't know if the vaccine works until we have the next outbreak,” he lamented. Sirleaf urged that strengthening health systems is the real answer. Clinton agreed, noting system building is not as sexy as fighting disasters, but they make them less likely to happen.
Overheard at UNGA by someone involved in the global goals discussions about the difficulty of getting mainstream media attention on the SDGs: “People keep asking if I'm here because of the pope and I want to say no, the pope is here because of me!”
At the U.S. Agency for International Development’s “signature event,” Unilever CEO Paul Polman delivered a blunt call to action for governments, business leaders, and consumers to get serious about climate change and environmental crisis.
“We waste 30, 40 percent of our food and call ourselves the most intelligent species,” Polman quipped.
The Unilever chief and recipient of the UN's highest environmental accolade — the Champion of the Earth Award — also called out the Australian government, noting that under new leadership, he hopes the country will step up to the plate before December’s COP21 meetings in Paris.
“Trend lines are more important than the headlines” was the key message delivered by President Clinton in his opening speech to kick off CGI 2015. Yes, there are many bad things going on in the world, but a swelling of philanthropy and humanitarian support is a much greater force, the 42nd president of the United States said.
In the 10 years since the founding of the Clinton Foundation, 46 million more children have better access to education and 27 million people worldwide have increased access to clean drinking water. The president of Nigeria recently became the first African leader to publicly declare his private assets. “They’ll grow the economy like crazy” with that kind of transparency, Clinton said.
“It’s not all bad news, folks.”
With that, CGI 2015 is officially underway. A full plate of plenaries and breakout sessions on the top issues in development is lined up. Quiche, yogurt parfait, fruit, and pastries are currently on the plates of audience and participants.
With one of its namesakes in the spotlight as the leading Democratic candidate for U.S. president it's clearly a pivotal year for the Clinton Foundation. As the world's most influential people gather in New York, Devex asks what the future holds for the foundation. Read the full story here.
It’s looking less and less likely that Gayle Smith, President Obama’s nominee to be USAID administrator, will get confirmed by the Senate in time to make a meaningful impact at the agency as its chief — and the list of high-level speaking opportunities during this administration is getting shorter.
Officials from the French Development Agency, the European Investment Bank, the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, government officials and others gathered this morning at the UN General Assembly to discuss climate finance for sustainable cities.
AFD CEO Anne Paugam said that while it’s difficult to pinpoint a number, trillions of US dollars per year will be needed to sustainably finance cities in years to come.
Paugam emphasized that “new and innovative funding windows” will be needed, as well as “incentives so that existing channels will prioritize climate investments.”
Paugam described AFD’s efforts to provide direct loans to local authorities in order to boost the financial and technical capacity of cities and attract commercial banks and other actors to invest. Paugam also described AFD’s efforts to develop “green financial intermediation through national and regional banks” — a mechanism that provides local banks with “green credit lines.”
Devex Editor-In-Chief Raj Kumar, who moderated this morning’s discussions summarized some key takeaways.
“When it comes to climate finance, money is the problem but money is not the solution …The solutions are developing integrated and strategic city plans, creating bankable projects, and innovating financing products,” Kumar said.
Saturday, Sept. 26
By the end of the evening, the Global Citizen Festival “impact meter” reported that 259 million lives had been affected throughout the course of the night, a number that had been steadily growing as commitments were announced on stage. According to the Global Citizen Festival website, this figure refers to the number of individuals directly impacted by each commitment, without deducting for any lives that may be affected by more than one commitment.
At the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, World Bank president Jim Kim appeared on stage alongside an unlikely colleague, Big Bird. The World Bank has teamed up with Sesame Street to educate communities about water and sanitation issues, which are often overlooked due to squeamishness. Big Bird and Jim Kim broke the taboo with a cheerful discussion of the porta potties at the event before skipping off stage together.
Heads of state joined Ban Ki-moon and Chinese First Lady Pen Liyuan as they officially launched the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents’ Health at the U.N. General Assembly special event. The strategy builds on the success of the Every Woman, Every Child initiative, which is exactly the kind of public-private partnership key to meeting the 2030 goals, remarked Ban.
A diverse group of world leaders came together at a high-level roundtable organized by International IDEA at the U.N. to discuss how governments can foster transparency and accountability, and work with NGOs, the private sector and international organizations to implement the SDGs.
Unlike the MDGs, which served more as a strategic plan,the SDGs are a pledge to accountability, said U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gass. He suggested the test of their success should be measured by three things:
• Are we strengthening the relationship between government and people?
• Are we engaging with everyone?
• Are we leaving anyone behind?
Despite rhetoric around the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders, the roundtable was dominated by government officials including the presidents of Mongolia and the Switzerland, and dozens of foreign ministers. This was not lost on one of the few NGO representatives present, Susan Brown, director general of World Wildlife Fund, who said that despite the high level of engagement with the NGO community on the creation of the SDGs, her civil society colleagues were largely absent from the assembly. Case in point: the blue signs all around the U.N. denote where U.N. staff or media are welcome, but none welcome civil society.
“I'm married to a journalist,” she quipped, “and I think I'm at least as trustworthy as him.”
She and her colleagues felt an energizing sense of connectivity as they worked together on the global goals process. She urged delegates to continue that engagement so they can get to the real hard work: implementing the SDGs.
Devex caught up with some familiar faces at the launch of the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative. PHCPI is a new collaboration between the Gates Foundation, World Bank and World Health Organization to measure the “vital signs” of health systems around the world. David Gold, principle of Global Health Strategies, and former USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah were in attendance.
Bono took the stage and challenged the audience at the Private Sector Forum on the issue of corruption. He said that while some are quick to blame developing nations, there are those in the global North that are complicit as well. Bono pointed to the U.S. government’s inability to implement a key transparency law that was part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, largely due to the pushback from the American Petroleum Institute as an example.
“If corruption is the biggest illness that business faces then there is a vaccine and that is transparency,” Bono said. “We all need to be vaccinators, front-line health workers for transparency.”
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of a new #connecttheworld campaign and pledge in partnership with the ONE Campaign.
The pledge, which already has about 30 signatories, affirms the importance of the Internet access as a tool for fighting injustice, sharing ideas and creating jobs. It calls on leaders and innovators to work together to make universal Internet access a world priority and turn it into a reality.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off the afternoon session of the U.N. Private Sector Forum with a call for business leaders to first focus on doing business responsibly and then pursue new opportunities to ensure that they are not making problems worse before they try to make them better.
He called on businesses to craft their own goals inspired by the SDGs to drive innovation and investment on a wide range of issues. He singled out climate change as a key focus area and asked for business to take real action and call for a meaningful climate agreement.
“It’s time to transform business models so they meet people’s needs,” he said. “This will also drive corporate growth and success.”
CEOs and other C-suite executives took turns on stage at the U.N. Private Sector Forum to one by one announce which specific SDGs their businesses will commit to achieve. The session was one of the most concrete events so far this week in which companies directly linked the SDGs to their core operations.
For many the case was clear. Mining giant Anglo American, for example, honed in on SDG 8 — sustainable economic growth. Chief Executive Mark Cutifani pledged to create 10,000 to 15,000 new local jobs every year for the next 15 years in the countries where Anglo American operates.
Global learning company Pearson aligned itself with SDG 4 — quality education — and to SDG 17 — partnerships. Pearson pledged to expand its educational partnerships with Save the Children to provide educational access for Syrian refugees.
A compelling story was told by Tammy Medard, chief executive of ANZ Bank in Laos. She recalled an encounter with a local man who, when not believing that she is the CEO of a large financial institution, instead asked “aren’t you the woman I recently paid $100 to?”
Medard used the example to illustrate the great strides that still need to be taken to stamp out gender discrimination and she committed ANZ to supporting SDG 5 — gender equality — through training, entrepreneurial support and employment.
Business leaders have been gathering in separate SDG-related forums throughout the week but this morning brought their agendas into the U.N. fold.
The U.N. Private Sector Forum announced the official launch of the SDG Compass – an online, open source tool to help businesses align their strategies with the 17 goals and measure their progress on SDG implementation. The project is a collaboration between the U.N. Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and business services organization Global Reporting Initiative. Check it out at www.sdgcompass.org
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing has gathered to discuss a system that "isn't broken, but is broke," in the words of one representative.
Current demands on humanitarian relief funding is outstripping the international community's contribution — even as those contributions continue to rise.
One representative floated the idea of a new multilateral "Humanitarian Bank" for relief funding. Most humanitarian funding goes to five countries: Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But, as UNDP Administrator Helen Clark pointed out, there’s a whole group of countries with the potential to tip into crisis.
Friday, Sept. 25
Folks strolling through Central Park’s Great Lawn late this afternoon stopped, squinted in surprise, then pulled out their iPhones to record Pearl Jam’s sound check on a newly erected stage in the distance. The band is part of a star-studded lineup at this year’s Global Citizen Festival, organized by Global Poverty Project. Devex caught up with Justine Lucas, GPP’s global director, and Michael Sheldrick, senior manager for global policy and advocacy, to learn more about the inspiration behind their citizen engagement strategy.
Those who wanted to attend the concert had to earn their ticket by completing a series of action items — from emailing the prime minister of Belgium to encourage him to increase funding for education to tweeting to ask the Netherlands to support refugees. Lucas noted that not only have more people than ever before completed the calls to action, but the quality of their responses has also risen. Organizers are expecting nearly 60,000 attendees at Saturday’s festival — where acts like Coldplay, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran will be accompanied by appearances from world leaders like U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Kim.
At the SDG Business Forum, Fortune 500 CEOs representing more than $240 billion of market capitalization sit on the same panel. That's bigger than the economy of Peru. They agree that climate change mitigation is good for their business, but one omission seems conspicuous: no U.S. companies are represented on the CEO panel.
Why? One CEO says the environment for U.S. companies is more difficult and they face more constraints, including legal barriers, short-termism and shorter CEO terms. The event may paint a skewed picture and people shouldn't draw the wrong conclusion — there are American companies making climate commitments and growing momentum.
Devex caught up with European Commissioner for Economic Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The commissioner said today was only “the dawn of the sustainable development agenda.”
“Now we have a to-do list,” he added.
“I’m confident that [the] European Union will be the strongest global actor in the implementation of [the] sustainable development goals,” Mimica said, adding that the EU is committed to implementing the SDGs in a comprehensive manner.
Mimica also addressed the refugee crisis in Europe, saying that the flow of migrants into Europe has “accentuated” the need for migration and development policy to be interlinked and interconnected.
“We really stretched our humanitarian and development funding up to the end of our financial capacities within the budget lines we have,” Mimica said.
The European Commission and member states have mobilized about 4 billion euros for humanitarian and development assistance to Syrians and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. And the commission has also mobilized 1.8 billion euros for an “Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration in Africa.”
Nutrition champions gathered at a high-level event at the U.N. on Friday to challenge world leaders to do more to mend global food systems. Michael Jackson also made a couple appearances.
Gunhild Stordalen, director of the EAT Initiative, first mentioned her admiration for the late King of Pop and his message of solidarity. World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin went so far as to serenade the EATx post 2015 crowd with a rendition of “We Are the World.”
The light, musical touch didn’t detract from the seriousness of the problem under discussion: a global food system that has seen obesity rates surge at the same time nearly 800 million people remain without enough to eat. Cousin implored attendees to press policymakers to address “blind spots throughout the food value chain” and to advocate for more research investments towards smallholder farmers’ concerns, post-harvest losses in particular.
“If we are truly serious about transformation, we must be relentless,” Cousin said.
More and better information was a common theme of the conversation.
"Far too few countries really monitor what people eat," said Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR, which is creating a new “Eat Index.” The organization plans to develop a “state of the world’s food system” annual report, designed to help fill a void in information about how global food systems function — and for whose benefit.
It’s official. Flags waved as the 193 member states of the U.N. formally adopted the global plan, “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Wondering when President Obama joins the New York madness? Here’s the latest on his schedule — as described in a White House press call Thursday evening.
Sunday: President Obama will arrive in New York City to speak on the SDGs at the closing plenary at the U.N. Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Monday: The president will address the U.N. General Assembly, discussing leadership needed to confront challenges and build on progress. He’ll attend a bilateral meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi — with climate change and COP21 in Paris expected to be key topics. Later he’ll hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by a reception for leaders attending UNGA.
Tuesday: Obama will convene a summit on countering the Islamic State group and how the international community can counter violent extremism. Other bilateral meetings may be added to his schedule.
Another sunny, beautiful day in midtown Manhattan for Global Dev Week Friday. While crowds and world leaders flock to the U.N. to see a certain Bishop of Rome, the conversation carries on among business leaders about what the SDGs mean for them. Indeed, we need not look any further than the mahogany walls and chandeliered ceilings of the Harvard Club to remind us that we are among corporate executives.
There was much enthusiasm yesterday for the strength and robustness of public-private partnerships being forged as a way to engage the private sector on the SDGs. But overheard over evening cocktails were some comments about another “P” missing so far from the discussion — people. That is, what steps businesses and governments are taking to obtain the buy-in from local communities for SDG-related partnerships. The debate continues today, at the SDG Business Forum.
Thursday, Sept. 24
Things are really ramping up in the city! Not all residents may know the meaning of the acronym UNGA or the abbreviation SDG, but by now it would be hard not to be somehow affected by what’s come to be known as “Global Dev Week."
On the eve of the U.N. General Assembly, road closures stymied traffic and cell reception was scarce in Midtown East as thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue hoping to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he left St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A few blocks north, folks stopped to admire the huge stage going in on the great lawn in Central Park. Some snapped photos to show they were standing where Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Eddie Vedder would be in just a couple of days.
At the United Nations Headquarters itself, it was the calm before the storm as the string of member flags flew proudly in a crisp autumn sky.
The Millennium Development Goals deserve celebration. Forty-eight million more children are alive today than would have been if child mortality rates hadn't declined over the last 15 years. But in many parts of the world, the hardest to reach still remain out of reach. Ending preventable maternal and child deaths won't happen unless we decide to "put the last first," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.
Amina Mohammed, the United Nations Secretary General's special adviser on the post-2015 development agenda, is on stage at a U.S. Council for International Business event in New York.
Much has been made at business forums today about recent complaints in major media outlets that the SDGs are too cumbersome, too complex and too ambitious. Speakers and panelists, including Mohammed, have been pushing back in defense. They argue that 17 goals and their hundreds of subsections, complicated as they may be, are practical, achievable and allow for accountability.
Businesses have bought into the process, which has given civil society reason for optimism.
"What we really have to celebrate, is this is a collective effort," Mohammed said.
Alexandra delivers the "World's Best News," a journalistic awareness campaign that publishes news about progress in developing countries, in collaboration with the U.N., DANIDA, Danish NGOs and the European Year for Development.
We caught up with the new President and CEO of CARE Michelle Nunn at the GAIN #FutureFortified event. Just past 100 days in the new role, Nunn told us how she’s getting to know the staff of the multinational organization. From personal visits to Turkey and Jordan to video conferences, the task may not be easy, she noted, but it’s an important and inspiring one. Nunn said that you can expect high intellectual rigor, incredible commitment, longstanding experience and high integrity from CARE under her tenure.
Happening now! “Harnessing the power of multistakeholder partnerships to achieve the SDGs in food and nutrition security.” Livestream available here: https://youtu.be/BrN3X26Ch3g
At Columbia University's International Conference on Sustainable Development, the panel at the session “Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development” takes a tough question from the audience: how do we challenge the practice of youth “volun-tourism,” which dehumanizes cultures and creates an “exciting other?”
Siamak Sam Loni, of the SDSN Youth Network responds: the point of the SDGs is to create a global movement. This is not about the “right way to do things” coming from the West/North. If we take “universality” seriously, that means it's not true that some places have problems and others have answers. Problems are global, and they require cooperation among all countries to overcome.
At Columbia University’s International Conference on Sustainable Development, President Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca of the Republic of Malta issues a passionate plea for migration policies that reflect open, global economic cooperation.
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Whether, why … and how? These questions pervaded Wednesday night’s FHI 360 event on integrated development. Several panelists, including U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, noted that “sibling rivalry” and tension between government agencies is one barrier to achieving true integration, adding that “leaders must set the tone.”
Agreement surfaced that concrete evidence is the best way to make a case for an integrated approach across sectors, but another takeaway was that integrated development — no matter how well implemented — is not a panacea. This event kicks off a month-long series, so check out #IntegratedDev and integrateddev.devex.com for more.
In a world of new SDGs, information and communication technology may very well be king. While it may not be a silver bullet to achieve the SDGs, ICT is a great enabler and its capacities, by definition, have the means to create the networks and connectivity that can scale up progress towards the SDGs.
The issue took center stage Wednesday afternoon at the third annual Sustainable Development
Conference hosted by Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Renowned development economist Jeffrey Sachs and Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Swedish telecom giant Ericsson, rolled out a joint report on ICT and SDGs — fittingly named as such — that makes a case of how the communications and tech sector can have a catalyzing effect for every one of the 17 new goals that will be adopted here in the coming days.
Currently 2 billion people worldwide have access to broadband, according to Vestberg. By 2020, the number will balloon to 7 billion. And with iPhones and Androids hitting the market at a dizzying pace, Ericsson calculated that every $10 reduction in smartphone prices will lead to 100 million new mobile phone users. The tech revolution will go “extremely fast” in the next five years, Vestberg said.
So what does it all mean for the SDGs? Think distance learning programs to bridge education gaps, mobile banking for the poor or governments efficiently managing and monitoring hundreds of decentralized power grids. Expanded ICT platforms can be the enabler to make that all happen. Simply put, “without ICT these goals would be out of reach,” Sachs said.
But while it’s clear what ICT can do for the SDGs, Devex asked both presenters what the SDGs can do for ICT. What changes will they bring to ICT business models as they go about adopting the SDGs? For Ericsson, Vestberg said that it means engaging a wider stakeholder base — engineers and researchers, for example, working alongside governments and municipalities beyond its traditional corporate clients.
Sachs, meanwhile, said that similar public-private partnerships as the ones formed 15 years ago — mainly to address critical public health issues — need to be forged, but urged ICT business to be more proactive.
The onus this time is for ICT companies to more actively present governments with coordinated, nationally scalable solutions. Doing so can minimize the risk of analytical paralysis that can befall governments.
“Governments are slow,” Sachs warned. “When they hear 10 different alternatives, their answer is to [adopt] none because they can’t choose one. We need solutions now at scale and in a timely way for the gov’t that are ready to do that. The most common question for governments is not why we should do that, but how do we can do that?”
It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Seventeen new sustainable development goals, presidents, prime ministers, global CEOs, local NGOs, astronauts, movie stars, media moguls, the best minds, the biggest wallets and yes, His Holiness the Pope.
Good luck getting a taxi.
Welcome to New York — and welcome to the post-2015 development era. This is the beginning and the end, the culmination and the call to action. Depending on whom you ask, it is either a meaningless exercise, or it is one of the most significant global gatherings in history, an opportunity to tackle intractable problems, to decide how the global economy is going to work for people and for the planet.
And it all starts now.
The 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the Social Good Summit, and countless side events, parties, breakfasts and press conferences — this might not look like global development as we know it, but for a week in September all eyes are on the city that never sleeps.
And if you can’t be here — or if you can’t be everywhere at the same time — Devex has you covered.
Our team will keep this live-blog updated continuously throughout the week, from kickoff events and Pope Francis’ address at the U.N., to business roundtables and breakout sessions. The Devex live-blog is New York Global Dev Week without the traffic jams and security checks.
And if there’s anything you think we need to hear about, we hope you’ll let us know.
Check out more coverage of New York Global Dev week using #GlobalGoalsLive. Follow @Devex and our reporters on the ground @AlterIgoe, @DevexImpact, @jtyson21, @KelliErin, @mfbmendoza and @DevexTV to get the latest news and developments from New York.