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Governments and businesses need to collaborate to achieve sustainable development goals

Singapore government setting aside SG$150 million for new Cities of Tomorrow Programme
Singapore government setting aside SG$150 million for new Cities of Tomorrow Programme

Speaking at the Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development (RBF) on 23 November 2016, Minister Wong (above) gave an urgent call for action for governments, businesses, and consumers in Asia Pacific to come together to tackle the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

During his opening address, Minister Wong cited that this had been a year of surprises and upheavals but that forums such as RBF were important for bringing government, businesses together to align on goals and that good progress was being made in this regard.

Minister Wong reminded the audience to think about the broader sense of sustainability and responsibility, not just confined to climate change and the environment. He added,

“It is not just about doing CSR by donating millions to charity or having solar panels on the rooftops of buildings. These are good things to do, but it is not just about tokenism. It is about how you align your business outcomes with broader sustainable development goals; it is fundamentally about how you make your money as a responsible member of our global community.”

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Initiatives welcomed over 750 business leaders, senior government officials, UN agencies and NGOs for the RBF at Marina Bay Sands, in Singapore.  Focusing on the theme of ‘Innovation and Collaboration to Deliver the Global Goals’ and in collaboration with the UNDP for the very first time, this year’s Responsible Business Forum (RBF) gave delegates the opportunity to examine each of the 17 SDGs in depth with case studies and insights from businesses, governments, UN agencies and international experts.

Major sustainability issues are being tackled at RBF this year, many of which are critical to the Asia Pacific region.  These include goals to end poverty and hunger in all its forms, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, tackle climate change, provide better access to quality healthcare, enable education opportunities in rural areas, tackle gender inequality in the workplace, reduce deforestation and haze issues and promote sustainable city development and living, among the many other issues that will be addressed.

Underpinning this will be a focus on collaboration, and establishing new partnerships that bring together players from all arenas – public, private and the third sector – and the creation of new policy frameworks to support the SDGs.

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