Green summit: Sustainability is now a market necessity
International business leaders made it clear during the P4G Summit that sustainability is no longer an option – it is necessary for survival.
The green P4G Summit was launched on 19 October at Industriens Hus with businesses and representatives from 53 countries. Right from the start, international businesses, the finance sector, heads of state and NGOs offered concrete solutions for fulfilling the aims of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“The SDGs are the biggest global business opportunity,” said CEO at Unilever Paul Polman and referred to a study that values the opportunities opened up by achieving the goals at a staggering DKK 77 trillion worldwide.
The SDGs, however, are not only a major market opportunity. They also represent new conditions for international trade and production. It’s time for “business as usual,” said Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen to the many attendees in his opening speech at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).
New necessity for international trade
The summit demonstrated that a great many leaders of financial institutions, businesses and governments agree that partnerships to promote sustainability are the way of the future.
Andrew Steer, CEO at the World Research Institute, highlighted the changed conditions that businesses across all industries will have to prepare for.
It is actually more costly not to concentrate efforts on sustainability than it is to transition through the SDGs. Poul Polman, CEO, Unilever
“We are seeing an intellectual and practical revolution. Ten years ago, sustainability and business were not seen as mutually compatible. Today, sustainability is necessary for business,” he says.
The CEO of food giant Unilever noted in more dystopian terms that without partnerships with civil society and the public sector, the food industry will suffer enormous losses.
“If we don’t transition now, the food industry will not be able to earn money in 30 years. Many businesses are already feeling this pressure,” said Paul Polman, calling to mind the widespread droughts of this past summer.
SDGs are the best economic solution
Paul Polman, whose speech was regularly interrupted by rounds of applause, argued that transition to sustainability within the framework of the SDGs is the most economically sensible solution.
“We lose out on billions of dollars each year simply because women are excluded from the labour market all around the world. And that is just one of the global goals. It is actually more costly not to concentrate efforts on sustainability than it is to transition through the SDGs,” said Paul Polman.
The summit also attracted many members of the international press. Among these were CNN Chile, which interviewed CEO Karsten Dybvad, the Confederation of Danish Industry.
“They wanted to know what Danish businesses are doing in response to the global climate agenda, and I could tell them that our businesses are working with the climate agenda through a wide range of projects at home and abroad,” says Karsten Dybvad.
He emphasises that it is through collaboration – on a global scale – that the growing climate challenges must be solved.
“It was therefore a great pleasure for DI to open the summit together with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and thereby help bring together businesses, governments and green organisations to find concrete solutions to fulfil the UN’s 17 SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.”
P4G stands for “Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030” and was launched by Denmark together with Vietnam, South Korea, Kenya, Ethiopia, Chile and Mexico in connection with the UN General Assembly session on 20 September, 2017. Colombia has since also joined the partnership.
In addition to being an international forum for the SDGs, P4G helps to fund and support sustainable partnerships – such as Arla Foods and DanChurchAid, who have developed a highly nutritional biscuit to help alleviate food crises.
At the two-day summit in Copenhagen, concrete partnerships were formed to deliver on the SDGs and the aims set in the Paris Agreement.