Overcoming “The Great Reverser” of COVID-19 is a must for achieving the SDGs

11 Desember 2020

At the first Global Impact Conference (GIC) “Energy for Impact”, held online on 1-2 December, international sustainable development leaders discussed new partnerships with a view to develop human capital strategies that facilitate global economic growth while preserving the environment. The GIC was organized in partnership with Rosatom, the Higher School of Economics and Forbes. The event brought together over 85 experts from 26 countries, representing international businesses, state institutions, and civil society.

One of the outcomes of the event was the “Human: CorpMission” initiative, which aims to study the human-centric approach to corporate strategies. Led by the international Research Expert Council, talent development drivers of sustainable economic growth were discussed, which will lead to extensive research and the creation of an Index in the field of management strategy transformation in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Overall, the Conference focused on the contribution of global institutions, corporations and communities to sustainable development. In his keynote speech Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, co-founder and chair of IMAGINE, an organization accelerating business leadership to achieve the Global Goals, and co-author of the UN Global Compact, highlighted, that the SDGs’ progress has slowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic: “It is the biggest crisis we have ever seen and many call it the ‘Great Reverser’, with growth going down 4.0-4.5% this year, putting us back on the SDGs probably by 10-15 years.”

That people are at the center of any transformation, especially in these times of Covid-19, was elaborated by several speakers, including the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Gaya Gamhewage. She emphasized that in order to holistically tackle climate change and the energy transformation, “we must work in a community and take an ecosystem approach to problem-solving. Only then will the human species not only survive, but thrive.” With the global population approaching 10 billion, the need for “solutions that are inclusive and welcoming” (Ben Heard) is pressing, especially in the energy sector. William Magwood, Director General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency noted, that the reliability of nuclear energy is a key driver for achieving the SDGs: “My view is that the Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved if we provide for the expanded use of electric energy around the world”.

The panel “Energy for all” featuring Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Électricité de France, Kirill Komarov, First Deputy Director General for corporate development and international business of Rosatom, Alexandra Johnson, President of the Global Technology Symposium, and Ira Ehrenpreis, a member of the Tesla Motors’ Board of Directors, discussed the development of impact investments. Ira Ehrenpreis mentioned that clean energy producers demonstrate that environmental protection, social development and corporate governance based on innovation are not only profitable, but they also contribute to sustainable development, transforming people’s lives for the better.

Jean-Bernard Lévy highlighted the responsibility of business for our common future: “We are facing an unprecedented global crisis, and many voices indeed are calling for transformation. These changes will place public utilities and more specifically our own, EDF, at the heart of the social model in the countries where we operate”.

The conference also facilitated impactful events in partnership with NGOs. In partnership with the Eurasian Women’s Forum chaired by Valentina Matviyenko, Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the conference also hosted mentoring sessions to promote women’s leadership. The Foundation for Support and Development of Women’s initiative “Association of Women in the Nuclear Industry” and “Eurasian Children’s Society” opened an intergenerational dialogue on skills and values for future careers.

Indeed, a key takeaway from the event is that women the world over need to be more involved in sustainability. Gambian social entrepreneur Isatou Ceesay particularly highlighted that women and girls need to be empowered to make their impact in sectors ranging from protection to recycling and energy.

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