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New Delhi – The United Nations in India (UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and United Nations Development Programme), in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the European Union, today hosted a B20 side event on how business can transform the lives of millions by driving sustainable, inclusive development. 

“Driving the 2030 Agenda through Responsible Business Actions” was held on the eve of the B20 India Summit, set for August 25- 27. The event highlighted how responsible business activities have the potential to help millions of people by offering access to social and economic opportunities while protecting our planet.

More than 60 private sector companies, including Sintesa Group, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Mahindra Group, and Bayer, among others, attended the event. It also spotlighted the value of businesses mapping their environmental and social footprints to achieve greater environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, gender equality, and streamlined value chains.

Shri. Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the event. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and said its economic stimulus provided to the private sector in India would drive sustainable growth. He said: “The private sector’s role in respect of the Sustainable Development Goals should not be limited to just financing and investment. There is a massive opportunity to achieve big efficiency gains; drive innovation; and enhance reputation, especially at a time when public distrust of business, especially big business, is high. India’s development objectives under the Modi Government are inherently aligned with the SDGs, and this is why we are succeeding. India’s success story is now being replicated in many developing countries. India itself is taking the lead to build bridges and establish a South-South Cooperation model for the SDGs.”

India, under its G20 Presidency, has pushed for sustainable, holistic, responsible, and inclusive development that is aligned with the B20 India theme of R.A.I.S.E – Responsible, Accelerated, Innovative, Sustainable, and Equitable Businesses. This gives businesses in India a unique opportunity to accelerate responsible business actions to drive economic growth and push for inclusive and sustainable development.

Delivering opening remarks, Mr. Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator in India, said: “From micro, small, and medium enterprises to global multinationals, business is ultimately the most powerful engine to drive us to 2030 and beyond. But across the world, we need to radically increase private sector financing, supply chains, and shareholder value aligned with the SDGs. I commend India’s G20 Presidency for making sustainability a priority and Indian companies for deploying capital at scale for the green transition, setting a remarkably fast pace.”

Earlier this year, the UN released the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report Special Edition, which highlights that the progress towards half of all SDG targets is weak and insufficient. Globally, emissions are rising, hunger is back to 2005 levels, and gender equality is 300 years away. On our current course, almost 600 million people in the world will still live in extreme poverty by 2030.

“That is why the role of businesses in supporting the SDGs is so important,” said Ms. Isabelle Tschan, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India. She underscored the urgent need to make environment and social sustainability a priority in corporate governance and action. “Midway into 2030, the world is off track to realize the SDGs. We urge businesses to prioritize responsible actions across their operations, value chains, and investments to bring about positive transformation in the lives of millions of people, directly contributing to the fulfillment of the SDGs,” added Ms. Tschan.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) – the widely adopted set of principles for responsible business, endorsed in 2011 – call on both governments and companies to identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy actual and potential human rights abuses. The UNGPs are not only a guide to help businesses respect human rights in their operations, but they are also a roadmap for businesses to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNDP, under its Business and Human Rights programme, has been working in India since 2018. We have supported governments, businesses, civil society, national human rights institutions, academia, and others to implement the UNGPs and advance responsible business practices throughout the global supply chain, and to enable Sustainable Economic Development through the Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework of the UNGPs.

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