Post-2015 Development Agenda: Opening a New World of Opportunities for Business

May 28, 2015


This year, the UN, its member states and partners will set the economic, social and environmental agenda for the next 15 years. On May 22nd, FleishmanHillard’s Washington, DC office, together with the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, convened a cross-sectoral group of business and not-for-profit leaders to explore the role the private sector can play in driving the post-2015 Development Agenda and supporting the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Attendees heard from a panel of leading experts who have been spearheading efforts to gain consensus around and finalize the SDGs. The Department of State’s Daniella Ballou-Aares, an advisor to the Secretary of State, and UN Foundation’s Elizabeth Cousens, most recently the chief U.S. negotiator for the SDGs, were joined by Christopher Gray, Senior Director for Global Institutions at Pfizer, and James Cottrell, Partner at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. The panelists explored the tremendous expansion of corporate and private sector contributions to global development objectives, as well as the importance of developing common language between the corporate community and government leaders. Panelists also discussed the evolution of how the private sector defines results – expanding from a purely revenue-based assessment to the expanded context of social and health impacts. A further private sector advance mentioned in the discussion was the approval of more projects that are both commercially sustainable and socially responsible.

In conjunction with the event, FleishmanHillard and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation fielded a survey with 84 corporate social responsibility leaders from a mix of U.S. businesses, including Fortune 1000 companies. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents (47%) said that their company or company executives understand the opportunities the SDGs present to their business. As demonstrated in the infographic, respondents identified five SDGs as “most important” to the business community: building resilient infrastructure (67%), promoting sustained economic growth (65%), achieving gender equality (60%), ensuring quality education (52%), and strengthening global partnerships (44%).

This year marks an important milestone in global development and an expanding opportunity for private sector engagement in positive social change.