On the 30th and 31st of May 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the SDG Charter, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) jointly convened a multi-stakeholder meeting in Brussels to explore the question: How to make the SDGs Europe’s Business?
Over 200 participants with a wide variety of professional and regional backgrounds – including European institutions, governments, large and small businesses, financial institutions, philanthropists, academia, and civil society, including trade unions, youth representatives and NGOs with environmental, developmental and social foci – were challenged to explore ways to make the SDGs a reality both within and outside the European Union.
First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, presented the plans of the European Commission to implement the Global Goals. He announced that Commission will, on the short term, start with broad consultations about the execution and that in the Fall of 2016 there will be an Announcement about the internal and external implementation of the Global Goals.
Various speakers highlighted the importance of coherence between implementation of the Global Goals and internal and external policies of the European Union. Unilever CEO Paul Polman emphasized the need for sustainable business management for the survival of business and presented the opportunities the Global Goals provide to business. “In my intervention I have asked attention for reducing inequality and focusing on the poorest. Next to that, I have insisted to bundle powers at European level and come to a multi-stakeholder collaboration.”
Jeffrey Sachs indicated to what extent the Global Goals connect with the norms and values of Europe and called for Europe to take on a leading role in the execution, as was the case in the negotiations. Concord-director Seamus Jefferson emphasized fighting poverty and reducing social inequalities in the European Union. He plead for a leading role for governments in achieving the Global Goals.
The conference contributed to acceptance for multi-stakeholder collaboration as a necessary condition for achieving het Global Goals. During the conference, the EESC announced that it wants to initiate a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration. Also, a network was formed, inspired by the example of the Dutch Global Goals Charter to strengthen collaboration between European partners.
The conference offered a first occasion to discuss with various partners at European level and in light of the new international agenda about important topics such as agriculture and food, energy, climate, financial sector and sustainable cities. Workshops were organized around these topics with the aim to make connections, share knowledge and where possible stimulate collaboration at European level. The Dutch Global Goals Charter played an important role in the workshops about sharing knowledge about multi-stakeholder collaboration and innovative finance for achieving the Global Goals. The Social Economic Council (SER) presented work on sustainable chains in the Netherlands, amongst which the Covenant of the garment and textile sector.
For the full programme of the conference refer to this link.
For SDSN’s visual social media summary click here.