Steering standards: Leadership Towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Prominent business leaders discussed the alignment of the private sector with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The second BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum (SFF) was held in Paris in late 2018, gathering over 70 speakers and 151 organisations, as well as over 400 participants from 24 countries around multiple interactive panels and keynote speeches.

The “Leadership Towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals” panel dived into the bold, ambitious leadership actions required by corporates and investors to achieve the United Nations’ SDGs.

The panel, moderated by Jane Ambachtsheer, Global Head of Sustainability at BNP Paribas Asset Management, included representatives from large corporates as well as from some of the largest investment managers globally, sharing their experience and vision on the topic:

  • Antoine de Saint-Afrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut
  • Brian Deese, Head of Sustainable Investing at Blackrock
  • José Carlos Garcia de Quevedo, Chairman of Instituto de Credito Oficial
  • Carine Smith Ihenacho, Chief Governance Officer at Norges Bank Investment Management
  • Carola Van Laoen, Head of Active Investing at Robeco

The participants highlighted the importance of the actions taken by the United Nations in establishing the Sustainable Development Goals as both a roadmap and a common global objective. Facing the severe prospects of unmitigated climate change, the medium-term objectives to reduce global warming can be achieved only through an array of initiatives at a global level. In that context, the UN SDGs serve as a powerful framework against which investors can assess the efforts made by their investee companies. As the 17 SDGs are interrelated, the ambitions of one goal cannot be achieved without considering the others. However, the codification of the goals across 17 categories provides a framework for corporates and investors to assess long term risks and opportunities. Investors view climate change and the sustainable transition as a key factor in companies’ long term performance and increasingly include this analysis as part of their investment performance assessment and viability.

The panel also insisted on the importance of working collaboratively towards an impact measurement framework as a next step to further the SDG goals. In conclusion, the speakers agreed on the importance for corporates globally to not only pay lip service to the SDGs, but to embed sustainability as a core part of their business model to ensure the viability of their practices and market relevance.

Watch the panel highlights: