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Half the success of Global Goals hinges on India: Lise Kingo, UNGC

May 18, 2017

Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, of the United Nations Global Compact in an exclusive interview to OneWorld South Asia tells how businesses can come together for giving a human face to the global market. Excerpts from the interview:

Santosh Gangwar and Lise Kingo

OneWorld South Asia: What is ‘Making Global Goals Local Business?

Lise Kingo: The United Nations Global Compact is mobilising a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want. With over 13,000 signatories across 165 countries, we are spreading the word far and wide that companies everywhere, of all sizes, play a fundamental role in achieving that.

We call on companies to do business responsibly through embedding our ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption into their strategy and operations. Now, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement provide opportunities through a powerful common agenda for achieving peace and prosperity on a healthy planet by 2030.

OneWorld South Asia: How do you ensure that companies engage for partnerships globally for SDGs?

Lise: This agenda is the next frontier for responsible practices, building new markets and developing solutions. We must engage more companies around the world if we are to achieve the SDGs, and spread the word that responsible business is a force for good.

To jumpstart awareness and action, we launched our Making Global Goals Local Business campaign in 2016 — helping companies to see both their responsibilities and opportunities around the SDGs.

Globally, through our more than seventy local networks, companies are responding to the SDG vision and seeing these Global Goals as a guiding star for a world in constant change. Together, we can give a human face to the global market and show that companies that do business responsibly and innovate around the SDGs will be the market leaders of tomorrow.

OWSA: What is the importance of India’s participation in these efforts?

Lise: As one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, India plays a key role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its associated SDGs. With an average economic growth rate of 7.26 per cent and foreign capital inflows of over US$ 31 billion, India is home to 1.2 billion people.

Fifty per cent of the delivery of the Global Goals are expected to come from progress made in India, and hence the very crucial role that India represents in this campaign. This is why our conference this year was held in India, where we focused locally on how to advance responsible business practices and catalyze innovative business models to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

To meet the Global Goals by 2030, we need companies of all sizes to urgently invent, develop and launch countless new ideas and solutions.

India can be an example to the world. With strong leadership from business, Government and civil society, India is prepared to meet these challenges and turn awareness into concrete action. Achieving the goals in India opens up at least US$1 trillion in market opportunities and generates 72 million new jobs by 2030.

OWSA: What are examples of actions taken in India by companies to successfully advance the SDGs?

Lise: In 2016, we were proud to recognize Zubaida Bai as a Pioneer of the Sustainable Development Goals for her efforts that align with Goal-3 on Good Health and Well-Being. Zubaida founded ayzh in India, based on the belief that every woman has the right to a safe birth as well as affordable and dignified healthcare.

Since 2010, Zubaida has raised more than $2 mn, attracted clients and strategic partners from around the world, and generated over $ 800,000 in revenue with a $ 3 product – all while putting health products into the hands of the women who need them the most.

In the Food and Agriculture sector, Olam is working in partnership with the International Finance Corporation and Brazilian Solidariedade, and has introduced new water irrigation systems to decrease use of water, organic mass and inter-cropping. The results were felt in Barwani, where yields improved by 23 per cent, water used decreased by 18 billion litres, and farmers’ income increased by US$600-700 per hectare. The average income of a sugarcane grower supplying Olam’s Barwani mill is now US$2,148 per hectare, compared with US$14,88 per hectare in Madhya Pradesh.

In the Energy sector, we see the success of Dalmia Cement. Dalmia grew 19 per cent amid the economic downturn (compared to the average 5.3 per cent industry average) and grew profitability due to its investment in innovative sustainable solutions. They developed a blended cement with a carbon footprint 40 per cent below the global average.

Indian business leaders are making strides to provide safe drinking water to citizens. 25 million people in India lack access to safe drinking water, and 1,600 die from acute diarrhea every day. Piramal Sarvajal delivers clean drinking water to more than 300,000 people daily across 12 Indian states via solar powered water-dispensing ATMs. Customers purchase a ‘water balance’ on a pre-paid rechargeable card topped up by a mobile phone, giving 24/7 access to water that is cheaper than any other outlet.

India is also forging ahead with green, shared mobility. Mahidra Electric has partnered with Zoomcar, India’s largest app-based car rental firm to extend access to Mahindra’s e20 plus electric city car. It is available on the fractional ownership platform ZAP, which lists cars as available when not in use. The result is an increased availability of sustainable cars, while saving car owners as much as US$230 a month.

OWSA: How can businesses engage with the UN Global Compact and the SDGs?

Lise: The SDGs provide a roadmap for the world we want, and the UN Global Compact provides the tools to help business get us there. We offer an extensive toolbox, ranging from best practices and resources to embed the Ten Principles into business strategies and operations, to advanced action on issues like climate change or gender equality.

Companies that do business responsibly and find opportunities to innovate around the SDGs will be the market leaders of tomorrow. We will guide businesses in areas essential for making progress, including responsible practices, transformative partnerships, breakthrough innovation and impact reporting.

OWSA: What are the next steps after the conclusion of Making Global Goals Local Business – India?

Lise: We will take our mission to the global stage during the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York this September at the UN Private Sector Forum and the 2017 Leader Summit. Next year, we are excited to take our campaign to South America. In April 2018, with the support of the Global Compact Network in Argentina, we will convene local and global leaders in Buenos Aires for the “Making Global Goals Local Business – Argentina” edition of our annual regional event.

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