Paul Polman addresses the UN on Sustainable Development Goals

2015 will be a pivotal year in the journey to sustainable development if decisive action is taken to deliver a brighter future for all, Paul Polman told the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

Vision, collaboration and action

“The potential offered by a new set of sustainable development goals and a binding treaty on climate change is immense,” he said.

However, the new global agenda for sustainable development requires vision, collaboration and action. The vision must show that governments, business leaders and civil society are ready and committed to take action through a new, single set of integrated and measurable goals which go beyond the Millennium Development Goals.

Paul said: “We can no longer pretend that it is possible to separate ‘sustainable’ from ‘development’. We can no longer pretend that business can immunise itself from the rising tide of environmental challenges.”

Joint effort

Everybody has a role to play – but different groups and businesses must work together to bring about positive long-term change. For its part, the private sector has a great deal to contribute building a brighter future, Paul explained.

“We have the human, financial and innovation capital to make a game-changing difference – and to do so at scale. More than any other sector, we can be drivers of inclusive growth, creators of jobs, innovators who share new technologies and best practices across the world,” he added.

However, governments must create “enabling environments” for businesses to make change happen. In turn, businesses must capitalise on their supply chains, innovation skills, global networks and grassroots interaction to drive development. They must also put sustainability at the heart of their operations and be transparent in their dealings.

Paul said: “The road ahead will be fraught with difficulties, and challenges, and struggles. We must dare each other to be visionary; to be ambitious; to be leaders - for there is no time to waste - the world needs to act now.”

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