UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, 19 September 2023 | Javits Center, New York

Alongside the SDG Summit 2023 and during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week, the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2023 was organized on 19 September 2023 at the Javits Center, New York, which convened changemakers, business leaders, SDG stakeholders, government, and UN officials from across the globe in a series of events comprising plenary sessions, breakout discussions, activation hub, and networking sessions.

The Summit focused on stock-taking of business progress on the SDGs and addressed business leadership during converging crises, the critical role of a principle-based approach, global trends, tools, and partnerships needed to fully achieve the 2030 Agenda. Sanda Ojiambo, the Assistant Secretary-General and the CEO of the UN Global Compact, opened the Summit by saying that it is time to create the positive change the world so desperately needs, emphasizing the need to join forces to create a more prosperous and resilient global community. 

The first plenary session, “The Time is Now to Accelerate Action on the SDGs” was then kick-started by Matt Damon and Gary White from Water.org and WaterEquity who emphasized the importance of water in achieving the SDGs by improving health & education, achieving global gender equality, creating climate change resilience, and helping end the cycle of poverty.

Taking the next plenary session, “Halfway to 2030”, panelists from the UN Global Compact, UN DESA, the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and Accenture reviewed progress made by the private sector and identified key actions needed to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs through the release of report findings on “Business SDG Stock Take”. The report, which surveyed over 2,800 business leaders from around the world, showed the vast majority (94%) of business leaders still view the SDGs as a unifying global vision but to achieve them the private sector must focus on the areas where they can have the most impact.

The Summit continued with the third plenary session, “Raising the Bar on Leadership Amidst Crises”, where panelists discussed the challenges and responsibilities of business leaders in broadening their leadership capacities to better navigate the rising global challenges related to sustainability. It also discussed the UN Global Compact recent research, “Business Leadership in Times of Crisis: Collected Insights from Chief Executive Officers into Successes, Challenges and Areas for Future Focus” which revealed a significant increase in interconnected global challenges that are causing CEOs to confront heightened uncertainty and impeding advancements towards the SDGs. The research also revealed the need for improved collaboration with the public sector, fair regulatory frameworks to attract investment, workforce training and action on environmental sustainability, global cooperation in artificial intelligence, and the consolidation of fragmented efforts.

Next, with the Summit entering the breakout sessions, IGCN members were involved as speakers of two breakout sessions, as follows.

Breakout Session: Moving Business from Commitment to Action on Human Rights and Labour Rights

This session aimed to rationalize corporate Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) as it pertains to ‘risks to people’ and illuminate the outcomes for businesses. Lucita Jasmin, the Director for Sustainability & External Affairs of APRIL Group from Indonesia, was among the panelists who exchanged practical insights about their experiences on specific steps they have taken, lessons learned, and the influence HRDD processes have had up and down their value chains. The panel also inspired executives to go beyond commitment and compliance, fostering a culture of respect for human rights within their organizations, regardless of size or stage in their sustainability journey.

IGCN (Josephine Satyono & Mardhathillah Aulia) and APRIL Group (Lucita Jasmin & Aldo Joson) also engaged in a separate meeting during the Summit with Caroline Rees, the President of Shift, discussing the implementation of Business and Human Rights (B&HR) practices within companies as well as APRIL’s journey on B&HR.

Breakout Session: SDG Innovation: Disrupting Business-As-Usual

This session discussed cutting-edge strategies for advancing the SDGs in business, going beyond small improvements and embracing disruptive ideas that can transform industries. The session shared insights on innovative solutions and explored emerging technologies from young innovators with delegates from Indonesia, Brazil, UK, Sri Lanka, Turkiye, China, Malaysia, Ukraine, Georgia, South Africa, and Mexico.

During this session, delegates from the Indonesian State Electricity Company (PT PLN (Persero)), representing delegates from the SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals 2023 program from Indonesia, gave a presentation on their innovation called the “SuperSun” technology, which is personal power plant—comprising of solar panel, inverter box, battery, and energy meter—that uses green energy to electrify underdeveloped, remote, and frontier areas.

After presentations from all innovators were completed, the session was concluded with a voting by the breakout session’s participants and PLN won the second place for most favorite presentation, after iFood from Brazil.

Check out the recording of the full session here.

Towards the end of the Summit, the UN Global Compact also announced twelve new SDG Pioneers, namely business leaders who are doing an exceptional job to advance the SDGs through the implementation of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. The 2023 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers are:

  1. Fanilo Rakotovao Rakotoarison, Social Impact Director, Axian Group, Madagascar as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  2. Catherine Gichungu, CEO, Caly Flora Limited, Kenya as SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
  3. M.A. Jabbar, Managing Director, DBL Group, Bangladesh as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  4. Veerappan Swaminathan, CEO, Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd, Singapore as SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
  5. Spiros Nomikos, CEO, Solvay Sodi, Bulgaria as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  6. Eteri Chachibaia, COO, MFI MBC, Georgia as SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
  7. Andrea Amozurrutia Casillas, Head of Finance and Sustainability, Grupo Herdez, Mexico as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  8. Ana Paula Arbache, CEO & Founder, Arbache Innovations, Brazil as SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
  9. Shay Bialik, Director of Global Sustainability and Ethics, Strauss Group, Israel as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  10. Roaa Kurdi, Biodiversity Specialist and Science Writer, Beesline, Lebanon as SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
  11. Uzma Hamid-Dizier, Director of Responsible Business, Slaughter and May, UK as SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies.
  12. Eva Gouwens, CEO, Fairphone, Netherlands as SDG Pioneer forSmall-to-Medium Enterprises.

The Leaders Summit was attended by a total of 24 participants from Indonesia, comprised of representatives from PT PLN (Persero), PT Pertamina (Persero), PT Kilang Pertamina Internasional, APRIL Group, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas, PT Samudera Indonesia Tbk, PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya Tbk, PT Global Advis Indonesia (INTERCOUNBIX), and IGCN.