John Fallon: Business is ready to play its part to achieve the SDGs

Photo: Pearson

By John Fallon, Chief Executive, Pearson

 

As world leaders come together at the United Nations for the SDG Summit, they will announce their commitment to the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development and set out their ambition for a more peaceful and prosperous world. This is a defining moment for the world community, as we transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to a new and more ambitious set of global development priorities which will set the global development agenda for the next 15 years and beyond.

 

From a business perspective, this milestone also provides an opportunity to reflect on just how far attitudes  and thinking about the role of the private sector in development have shifted. When the MDGs were defined and launched 15 years ago, the private sector was not at the table and was, in some cases justifiably, treated with some hostility and suspicion by the development community. Today, all sectors recognise that we cannot end poverty without more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and that business has a central role to play by generating decent jobs, contributing innovative products and services and by mobilising more investment and resources.

 

Another key shift is the acknowledgement that business can have its greatest impact through its core business and value chain, thereby ensuring that solutions can be both financially sustainable and scalable. Community and social investment by companies remains important but it is through their core businesses that truly transformative impact will happen.

 

This new consensus creates responsibilities and opportunities for businesses to harness their capabilities and resources in support of the Global Goals. For businesses like my own, the SDGs create a vital means by which we can fulfil our purpose—in Pearson’s case—to empower people to progress in their lives through learning—alongside a framework through which we all can align our strategy and resources and measure our performance and progress.

 

Given the scale of the task that lies ahead, leaders across sectors recognise that success will require a renewed sense of partnership. No single organisation or even sector can do it alone and this is why collaboration is being placed at the heart of the Global Goals. From our experience of partnership we know that our contribution can be enhanced and amplified when we combine our expertise and resources with others.

 

Everyone, no matter where they were born or under what circumstances, deserves an equal shot at a healthy, safe and fulfilling life. With these ambitious new goals, the world is setting out to achieve just that—and to do so in our lifetime. I look forward to all of us at Pearson and in the wider business community being able to say that we played our part in making that happen. This report makes an important contribution to building understanding of how business can contribute to many of the Global Goals and how our partners across sectors can enable business to do much more.

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