8 Things to Know about Business and the Global Goals

Let’s talk about the world’s audacious plan to achieve humanity’s 17 biggest challenges in the next 12 years.

To start, here are the Goals. In a nutshell, the UN Global Goals tell us what – the 17 challenges demanded by science; the who – all of us; and where – everywhere. But not how. How might we ensure that all people, everywhere – starting right here in our community – have the opportunity for a decent and dignified life? How will we ensure that our businesses help us live and work in ways that ensure prosperity and good health today and in the future?

I don’t have the answers. I’d posit that some of you do, or at least some of the right questions. Many of you are already using the Global Goals in your organizations and businesses – perhaps in how you design employee and community engagement programs, in reporting to your key stakeholders, and the products and services you offer today and are planning for the future. We can build on what’s already working and create new solutions together.

What I can do is share what I know about what is happening today with the UN Global Goals and business. I can tell you with certainty that there is an incredible opportunity for all of us in this room to collectively do more together than we can do alone. It starts here, today, with this conversation.

Here are 8 Things you need to know about Business and the SDGs.

  1. It’s historic: The master plan is formally called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – which includes the 17 SDGs – were unanimously adopted by 193 nation states in September 2015. We also call them the SDGs or Global Goals.

    This was the first of two times that all of humanity agreed on something. The 2nd time was the Paris Agreement for Climate Action in December 2015.

  2. They are universal: The SDGs are for business leaders everyone, everywhere – from global multi-nationals to the small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) that make up the vast majority of our businesses. They belong to all of us, and it’s our responsibility to achieve them. At the same time, The SDGs are non-binding, voluntary, and without the force of law.

  3. It’s happening: First of all, we are here. If you want to see how businesses are making positive impact for the SDGs, visit AIM2Flourish.com. You’ll find 2,000+ examples of business’ solutions for the SDGs, scouted and written by business students around the world.

    The business marketplace of SDGs tools, platforms, impact investing schemes, and networks has exploded in the past year. As an example, C-Change, a Switzerland-based think tank, mapped the number of online platforms that explicitly offer ways for people to collaborate for the Goals. Over 200 so far.

  4. They’re complex, interdependent, and act as a foundation for Targets and Indicators: The bricks make it easier to talk about the Goals, but they truly exist as an interconnected system. Yes, 17 Goals feels like a lot. Because life is complex.

    Under each goal, there are science-based Targets – 169 in total. For Goal 3, a target is to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.

    And for each Target, there are 242 indicators – surveys and measurements that already exist to tell us if we’re making progress toward a Target. For example, an indicator for reducing road traffic accidents is published death rates due to road traffic injuries.  

  5. There’s money to be made & marketplace position to be gained. The January 2017 “Better Business, Better World” report estimates that the UN SDGs are a $12 trillion dollar opportunity wrapped up in the biggest crises facing us and our world. Short term profits don’t matter in a world that fails. The businesses that understand this challenge and take action will be a step ahead. If you are looking for investment dollars, the SDGs are emerging as a unifying framework. It’s now common wisdom that younger employees are seeking workplaces with purpose and consumers want to connect with brands that they feel good about. I’m betting that prospective employees and customers will start asking about SDGs engagement in the same ways.

  6. As business leaders, Climate – Goal 13 – Emerging as the Galvanizing Lens. New IPCC report estimates we have a decade at most to stave off the worst of the coming climate-related disruptions. In September 2019, the UN Secretary-General will host a Climate Summit as part of the annual UN General Assembly. The young-people-led March 15 Climate Strike events gathered 1.4 million people in over 100 countries.

  7. As business leaders, The Goals are the best frameworks we have. They aren’t perfect, by a long-shot. “Goalwashing” (a play on “greenwashing”) is a real concern. And at the same time, there is no other global framework that has a better shot of authentically aligning finance, business, civil society, and governments in service to greater prosperity for all people.

  8. As business leaders, The Goals tell us What. The How is Up to Us. The SDGs present local opportunities for business, in the form of sustainable cities, climate-smart agriculture, clean energy, and improved medicine and health care. These are all things we care about right here.

So let’s talk about the How – starting with what’s happening.

There’s no one place in the world where you can look to see who is doing what for the SDGs in an apples to apples way. One proxy is to analyze what businesses say about themselves in their annual reports.

In November 2018, PwC published a report called: Does business really care about the SDGs?”

“Our top level findings suggest that, despite the SDGs being part of global business conversations for more than three years, and a significant number of companies pledging a commitment to the Goals, there remains a gap between companies’ good intentions and their ability to embed the SDGs into actual business strategy.”

In this study, 72% of companies mentioned the SDGs in their corporate and sustainability reporting . . .

But only 23% disclosed meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and targets related to the Goals – suggesting the selection of priority SDGs isn’t backed up by meaningful action or monitoring

This tells us that more businesses are engaging with the Goals, but not yet in ways that are embedded into strategy, performance and results.

Another way we can gauge action and impact is by looking at global networks for business and the SDGs. Here are 8:

  1. UN Global Compact – This is the network of businesses that support the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Out of the 10,000 Compact members worldwide, 532 of them are in North America – about 5%. See the Blueprint for SDGs Leadership plan).

  2. The Global Reporting Initiative offers the Reporting on the SDGs report.

  3. World Business Council for Sustainable Development have supported SDGs from the start, including the SDG Business Hub.

  4. B Corporation (the non-profit behind the B Corps movement) is embedding the SDGs into the next release of the B Impact Assessment.

  5. IMPACT2030 is a network of 75 businesses globally that support their employees SDGs’ volunteering.

  6. Business for 2030 is an initiative of the United States Council for International Business. Its website offers something different in that it maps business actions to each of the 169 targets, rather than the Goals.

  7. There is a booming ecosystem of websites that collect examples of business actions for the SDGs. Two of my favorites are AIM2Flourish.com (where I served as Director) and SupporttheGoals.org.

  8. While not exclusively focused on business, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), based at Columbia University and led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, has created tools, collaborative communities, and an action platform.

For all that is happening with the SDGs, it isn’t happening fast enough and in enough places.

There is a leadership role to be filled to bring the SDGs challenge and opportunities to every business, everywhere. It’s up to us.

May 2019 Featured Journal Article

May 2019 Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Journal Featured Article

Delighted to share my May 2019 co-authored Featured Article in Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner journal about the AIM2Flourish.com initiative, experiential learning, the UN SDGs (or Global Goals), and business’ role in achieving them.

Collaborating with Professors Lindsey Godwin and Jacqueline Stavros was an absolute pleasure.

Read the full article.

This Week’s Reading, Writing, Links

DNVGL latest sustainability roundtable “The road less traveled: Pathways to Transformation” http://t.co/BCU4HrpkiB

What it all comes down to. http://t.co/ovjIQvKBPw

Revkin: Tracing @Pontifex’s Climate Plans for 2015 http://t.co/s8mY7WMBth

Thoughtful read for 2015 | Gus Speth: Building the new environmentalism http://t.co/zH7DO5Uhx5

Good wrap-up & examples of Big Biz CSR leadership “Doing Good Is Good for Business” http://t.co/FDXE5EygUV

Required reading: New Yorker story on graphene http://t.co/ZjfC79pwMI

READ-HUGE The “New Power” http://t.co/1ZTRW3NFZA

Good News day decimates website’s readership http://t.co/wioQbtcuyE

Monday feel-good: Jan 2007 NYTimes “Happiness 101” on positive psychology http://t.co/ydLtvbYQgT

Nice round-up of the 2015 climate action state-of-play http://t.co/pdE4c5Mvoj

2014 good news: 5 Climate innovations http://t.co/JOCeko6TDM

Good news for 2015 NJ solar http://t.co/EQsVmdXbsN

3 examples where US business leadership can step up for climate policies that help everyone http://t.co/Vgxe1ukkNP

Level-headed editorial on why climate action is good for NJ citizens http://t.co/yHjnd04kk3

NJ used to lead on climate action & we can again | OpEd http://t.co/Jzv3vz5rlc

Graphene is on my 2015 innovation watch list…Wonder material could harvest energy from thin air http://t.co/yJLfiw4QU5

NJ ‘s future. Almost 7K UK properties will be lost to rising seas: http://t.co/GSHudKOnrc

“We are capable of kindness, goodness, & generosity” http://t.co/dEGYsY5X09

261 businesses already in NEW UN climate actions examples portal; share to make it 100x http://t.co/lRZ1Yl3dHT

Catholic Bishops Call For ‘An End To The Fossil Fuel Era’ http://t.co/otmUrisjIx

Pope Francis emerging as global climate justice leader the world needs? http://t.co/4yvmThSvmB

New site uses tech & socent for US resilience http://t.co/uAJImmROWE

Can “green” Pope break the climate deadlock? http://t.co/DZ8tXEPOSh

The Secret Side of Business Sustainability http://t.co/YmSJxQmYV7

Encouraging biz & investors to phase from Fossilfuel->#renewables http://t.co/vYHbkS1DPi

Fracking reparations in W. Virginia http://t.co/uQMPqsDlLL

Catching up: Clifbar shared cocoa sources 12/3. Kudos 4 transparency, support to do more http://t.co/IYo1WjqVoI

2014 fave, highly sharable: 8 Steps to Becoming a Truly Sustainable Brand http://t.co/Yk0pO9Wrt3

LOVE. Sustainability Leadership | 3 new frontiers http://t.co/Rk9MAfpiQM

2015 is the year we change this | The press has a problem reporting good news http://t.co/aA3yaMpRrx

Financial Success Now Requires Sustainability http://t.co/0teYz7l7vA

Global Green Bond Sales 3x to $35B in 2014 http://t.co/5pbxIdFVOJ

Apple, IKEA, Walmart: 12 leaders in on-site renewables http://t.co/HY41yF8ilc

Christmas Day in midcoast Maine. Merry & bright best wishes to you & yours http://t.co/cn1dMYyBmY

3 signals why 2015 is looking good http://t.co/oXvS6nTq2J

State-Based Climate Solution That Doesn’t Need Congress http://t.co/PytjtRVirG

Restored Forests Breathe Life Into  Climate Change Adaptation http://t.co/05l1JMkwlC

Pope may call for 100% renewable at Vatican http://t.co/LPxoc0dztb

Heads-up: will be big for 2015 | Grand Strategy Project http://t.co/NH9l7ntSYT

Beautiful “It’s not the last man standing who wins. But the first man who kneels. And plants his garden” https://t.co/cw6mlI5ljM

There is an invisible global army of people in big companies pushing for CSR http://t.co/qRS7XSQrkh

Monday cheers for Eudaimonia, a word for flourishing http://t.co/9BDMR3lSbG

DC passes sea level rise ‘tipping point,’ more cities to follow http://t.co/LS4ZJp6GZL

SHARE: A $10m #Fairtrade grant shows exponential Biz for Good can happen more, in more places, faster http://t.co/3RiEnRQbCs

Collaboration! NetPositive: The Next Frontier of Sustainability Leadership http://t.co/1Sm6P4RAHl

INSPIRING innovation, leadership & FUN | http://t.co/jYhGeuQsTM

I believe in a New Story about #BizforGood, about Business as an Agent of World Benefit…These folks do too https://t.co/aI1fbqmqR6

GREAT Business for Good innovation story | What if blood tests took a drop & cost pennies? Blood, Simpler http://t.co/CAM79wHXsQ

How more companies can do good while doing well http://t.co/dSQCWleSzH

5 startups that could radically transform the world around us: http://t.co/J3t4IzVQv5

GREAT examples of Biz for Good in unexpected places | Using Entrepreneurship to Save the World. http://t.co/Mem4txFME3

Wonderful! Visual storytelling on culture of dialogue | AppreciativeInquiry http://t.co/Sx87XhFkuW

Business Takes a Decisive Leap: Breakthrough in Collaborating for Good #sustainability http://t.co/SHF66MUdn5

“CVS Effect” Article Picked as 2014 Top Leadership Article on Sustainable Brands

I’m extremely proud to share that one of my “CVS Effect” articles was picked as the top leadership article for “Best of 2014 in Sustainability.”

Bestof2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s this one: The “CVS Effect” in Effect: Apple, Disney and Chipotle Step Up

Five major brands have just made news for decisions that buck the bottom-line mantra. Could this be momentum for the “CVS Effect”? Take a look and see if you agree. And note too how brands are joining with allies on these issues, while one brand — Chipotle — is potentially breaking major new ground. Keep reading…

ASBC Summit Attendees Chart Path and Policies to a Sustainable Economy

My latest for Sustainable Brands.

Dusk_at_U.S._Capitol,_Washington,_D.C._bannerThe American Sustainable Business Council’s (ASBC) third annual summit Nov. 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C. brought together 150 entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors and elected officials to discuss the state of play—and possibilities—for policies that advance a sustainable economy.Founded in 2009, ASBC is a national business advocacy policy organization representing over 200,000 businesses across the nation. ASBC works on a wide range of policy issues at the federal and state level, working to advance a sustainable economy by shifting markets and policies. ASBC raises up the voice, presence and power of business to create jobs, grow business and build a sustainable US economy.

“We invited our members here to Washington to discuss the business case and policies needed for a sustainable, just, prosperous, and vibrant economy,” said ASBC vice president and co-founder Richard Eidlin.

He explained that ASBC is a direct response to the presence of traditional business interests such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who spend hundreds of millions often advocating for policies that deter the economy from becoming more innovative, equitable and sustainable.  While claiming to represent the will of American businesses, especially small companies, these entities do the opposite. ASBC is working to ensure that other important voices in the business community are heard in Washington and the media.
Among the attendees were representatives from sustainability-focused retailers Earth Friendly Products, Ecco Bella, Greyston Bakery and Eileen Fisher.

Receiving the SUSTY Award from the American Sustainable Business Council is U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (right). Presenting the award is Rebecca Magee, EILEEIN FISHER.At a kickoff reception on Nov. 12, ASBC presented its Sustainable Policymakers Award, the “SUSTY,” for “exemplary leadership from members of Congress, administration officials and businesses.” This year’s awards went to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and ASBC business member, New Belgium Brewing.

An overall theme that emerged over the summit was that the values at the core of a sustainably run business need to be reflected in the policies that govern how business operates, for workers, customers, and society as a whole. “This isn’t about the environmental case. This is about the business case — that the economy can be more sustainable and provide opportunity to a much greater array of Americans,” said ASBC co-founder David Levin in his opening remarks. “And in the process, a more prosperous economy is created. But it takes businesses speaking up to make that case,” added Levine.

Thursday’s mix of plenary and breakout sessions mirrored these priorities with discussions about pricing carbon, raising the minimum wage, supporting the growth of clean energy technologies, supporting the next generation of American farmers, tax reform, the growth of shared ownership business models like ESOPS and cooperatives, and a panel on conservative thought and sustainability.

In a broad-ranging, candid discussion about putting a price on carbon, the question seemed firmly on the side of when, not if. Emily Enderle, Chief Environmental Policy Advisor for U.S. Senator Whitehouse said that the Senator plans to introduce a carbon pricing bill in the next few weeks. Eidlin said that the ASBC will be advocating for a price on carbon going forward, citing that the “dialogue is beginning to shift.”

A panel on shared ownership business models included comments from U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah from Pennsylvania, who shared his support for employee owned businesses. B Lab’s policy director, Erik Trojian, noted that diversifying ownership is one way to ensure a company’s longevity. And in a measure of how embedded worker ownership is in the U.S. economy, “There are 29,000 cooperatives in the US – and many Americans belong to more than one,” said Michael Peck from Mondragon North America.

Another panel discussed the likelihood that movement on sustainable economic and environmental policy initiatives for the next two years is most likely to happen on the state and local levels. JR Tolbert, executive director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators pointed out three places where there’s traction and broad support for sustainable business policy: chemical reform (such as on phthalates and toxic flame retardants), solar, and a price on carbon.

“Solar is an issue where the right and left come together around energy freedom. This is where citizens can decide where their energy comes from,” he said.

On Friday, the day started early with a Women’s Working Group breakfast session to set priorities for the coming year of interest to women members, including access to capital and workplace initiatives such as Leave Insurance. The entire summit group then attended a several-hours-long briefing at The White House and spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with over thirty elected officials and staffers from ASBC members’ districts.

Concurrent with the Summit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced $3 million in small business funding for green technology and research in eight states. On a Nov. 12 press call before the Summit began, McCarthy reiterated the agency’s commitment to strengthening economic growth, supporting sustainable businesses, and combating the impacts of climate change.

Speaking about the summit overall, Eidlin said, “Our members are demonstrating by the way they act that business can be profitable, environmentally responsible, and care about workers and their communities. There is no contradiction.”

Case in point is Naturepedic, a company that manufactures non-toxic, organic mattresses and bedding products in Ohio. David Anthony, director of corporate affairs, said, “As a small business, on our own we don’t have the money or the network to make effective change in Washington on the things that matter to us and our customers. So ASBC helps us have a seat at table to voice our concerns. Going to the White House and meeting with my senator is American democracy at its finest, made possible because we are associated with a strong group.”

Eidlin stressed the importance of making the voice of sustainable business heard in Washington and at the state level.

“The $4 billion spent in the recent election is a case in point. Most of the policies and programs pushed by that $4 billion were not in the interests of sustainable businesses and will not move the economy in a sustainable direction,” he said.

“When you show up as business leaders, that makes all the difference.”  Too often, those who claim to speak for business think that profit and the single bottom line are the only thing that matters. That’s why we say, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ It’s crucial that sustainable business leaders engage in policy, because if they don’t then someone else who doesn’t reflect their values will.”

This Week’s Reading, Writing, Links

JOIN: Complimentary sustainability webinar w/inspiring, solution-focused successes | Nov18 2-3 EST http://t.co/jAvRHEQ8Ql

SAP Severs Ties With #ALEC: http://t.co/iQ8aMFk0o1

Personally heartened to see @Greenbiz @SustAbility convo on #lowfood #slowfood http://t.co/ouYivMvosU

Andrew Winston: New Big Think interview http://t.co/rcnjO0T3D3

UN Sec Gen advises pension funds to #divest from #fossilfuel http://t.co/pRqqG5QLEM #climate #actonclimate #CSR #socinv

See you there @ASBCouncil: Only one week until #ASBCSummit2014 kicks off – RSVP: http://t.co/6H1UpkSREy

+1 Read @joconfino: “Making a profit is no more the purpose of business as breathing is the purpose of living” http://t.co/ZtNwX3ynsV

RT @350: These next few years are a crucial window. If you’re a U.S. voter: Don’t stay home today. Vote. #climatevoter http://t.co/OaPtWcRW

How do we get more financial institutions to offer #greenbonds? http://t.co/o3zdKYbH4W

HuffPo covers Business as Agent for World Benefit w/insight from @dlc6David http://t.co/uYSKIJ8oZT

Is this a big deal? Yes. “BofA Merrill Lynch launches #greenbonds Index” http://t.co/fPr325LO8d

MORE LIKE THIS PLS: “Set aside the quarterly financials and do something good in this world.” Rich Kylberg of @ArrowGlobal

That’s #leadership: “Talk about what you believe in, rather than what you do.” Rich Kylberg @arrowglobal

Mod @Sallyuren asked @Heineken’s Dickstein abt selling less beer as #CSR. Ans: “less, but over the long term, better” #SB14London

@MichDickstein offers his “What if?”:
all sustainable hops by 2020. Like it, thinking abt healthy soil & bees @Heineken_UK #SB14London Nov 04, 2014

THIS: Doing good–>doing well “The Greenest Companies Consistently Outperform Markets” http://t.co/DLHycvCRdI

Jo Confino Q-ing Barclay’s Wheldon on exec bonuses w/Polman quote: “The reason banks need to pay so much money is bc it has no purpose” #sb14london

Proud to be on the Business Alliance for the Future team. Follow @BA4F #BA4F for breakthrough #collaboration & #collectiveaction news

Follow @ASBCouncil for more like this: Post-election: What sustainably minded business people want from Congress http://t.co/KO1ay88QSj

@Billmckibben goes there. If you care about zombies & #Ebola, care more abt #climate @guardian: #IPCC: http://t.co/e7l2U0p2bf

@Guardian: IPCC: rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop ‘severe’ impact of climate change http://t.co/dgzf05gD9U

Global Forum Attendees Design ‘Flourishing’ Solutions to Real-World Challenges

My Sustainable Brands coverage of the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent for World Benefit.

On Thursday, the first full day of Flourish & Prosper: The Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit in Cleveland, Ohio, the morning’s plenaries and CEO panels explored how business can move beyond how social and environmental responsibility are thought of today, to a new mindset of “full-spectrum flourishing” where “companies prosper, people excel, and nature thrives.

By the afternoon, it was time to get to work. “Speakers give you seeds of ideas and food for inspiration. Now it’s time to get us going in a different direction,” said David Cooperrider, author and professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.

He invited conference attendees to split into eight smaller “design studios,” where each group used Weatherhead’s Appreciative Inquiry (AI) summit method and facilitation to design, and work on, a specific, real-world innovation challenge.

A similar process at past Global Forums has resulted in breakthrough developments. At the 2006 event, participants designed the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) with the UN Global Compact Office. PRME is a global network and framework for academic institutions to advance corporate sustainability and social responsibility. Launched in 2007 by Ban Ki-Moon, PRME signatories today include 500 leading business schools and academic institutions from more than 80 countries worldwide.

In each of the studios, attendees created an action plan for moving forward on a project or challenge, based on the dozens of ideas and work of everyone in the room. Attendees worked with facilitators to go from the brainstorming stage of collecting ideas (ideation), narrowing these ideas down into promising concepts, generating workable prototypes for discussion, and then into the final design phase with an action plan. After barely eight hours of work total, the teams presented draft — but tangible — vision statements, timelines and next steps on the main stage late Friday morning.

The studios worked on:

  • Cities as centers of full-spectrum flourishing
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Transitioning to 100 percent clean energy
  • “Consciousness of connectedness” in the workplace
  • A “U.S. Grand Strategy” based on sustainability
  • New metrics for sustainability-as-flourishing,
  • Transforming the linear economy into a circular one, and
  • Showcasing businesses working for good, with Nobel Prize-like awards and recognition

In the renewable energy group’s report, spokesperson Matt Renner, executive director of the World Business Academy, shared the group’s plan to accelerate a pathway to a 100 percent renewable energy economy. The group proposed using existing technology based on micro-grid platforms, funded by a global energy bank.

The U.S. Grand Strategy project has been in motion for several years starting with a 2003 whitepaper commissioned by the Pentagon and authored by Patrick Doherty. The team is now housed at the newly launched Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western with co-directors Mark “Puck” Mykleby and Doherty. Their group shared ideas for engaging businesses, regions and citizens across the country to work on a U.S. grand strategy based on sustainability.

The final studio, “Showcasing Business as an Agent of World Benefit” opened with the inquiry to find ways to change the stories we hear about business and the world. As a whole, we mainly have negative ones that dominate our media and conversations. Instead, business can help elevate the larger, truly positive stories that are out there, but unheard, of companies doing well by being good for their customers, society, employees, and the environment. By sharing and scaling up these stories, “they can become known and become living reality in business and society,” said Cooperrider.

To this point, Harry Halloran, Chairman and CEO, American Refining Group and ARG Resources said, “People would be astonished to find out all the good things already happening in business.” (Halloran Philanthropies supports the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at Case Western.)

Work on this initiative is already underway at Case Western and other institutions. Business students are conducting thousands of business leader interviews about innovations, breakthroughs, and excellence, using the Appreciative Inquiry method.

In the group’s report to the conference, they shared ideas for an online platform to house the stories, an app to share them, a MOOC, exhibitions, and global business awards.

While the conference concluded on Friday, the design studio work and all the connections made at the conference will continue, to create a flourishing world.

More about “full-spectrum flourishing” can be found in the new book, Flourishing Enterprise: The New Spirit of Business by Chris Laszlo, Judy Sorum Brown, John R. Ehrenfeld and others.

Moody-Stuart Challenges Global Forum Attendees to Collaborate to Eradicate Malaria

My Sustainable Brands coverage of the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit

UN Global Compact chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart used his time on the main stage at the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit on Thursday to propose how business can join the global fight to eradicate malaria.

In addition to his role with Global Compact, Moody-Stuart also serves as the chairman of the IVCC Board of Trustees. IVCC is a not-for-profit public-private partnership that was established as a charity in 2005. The group’s mission is to save lives, protect health and increase prosperity in areas where disease transmitted by insects is endemic.

Moody-Stuart shared how IVCC is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UKAID, USAID and Swiss Development Corporation to engage with major agro-chemical companies to bring three new antimalarial insecticides into production. “Innovation funders and business partners have brought us this far,” he said, but the project still needs $50-100 million to come to fruition.

Malaria seen a remote problem that’s not connected to business, but Moody-Stuart argued it’s not.

“Healthy employees, customers and communities are good for business,” he said.

The problem, as Moody-Stuart explained, is that people fighting to eradicate malaria need to rely on the continuing generosity of governments and philanthropists such as the Gates Foundation. And as the problem continues, they’re asked to do even more.

“Or someone else has to do the job. To me, it has to be done by companies in the affected areas,” he said.

Which is where his proposal came in, with the question: “Would societal benefits be enough to get companies to give a few million dollars a year to bridge the gap?”

Companies that contribute to the effort would be helping bring a solution over the finish line.

Malaria is one of the world’s most preventable illnesses and causes of death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria kills over 600,000 people each year and sickens over 216 million more. Increased prevention and control measures have reduced malaria mortality rates by 42 percent globally since 2000 and by 49 percent in the WHO African Region.

But these gains are threatened because of increasing resistance to insecticides that are used in life-saving sprays and bed nets. Similar to antibiotic resistance, the long-term effectiveness of insecticides relies on more than one kind and the ability to rotate them. But with a lack of human welfare funding on a global basis, these new insecticides are not being made.

The economic case for eliminating malaria can be found in the research that tallies the annual costs of death and illness due to malaria to governments. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the direct costs from malaria from drugs, illness, and premature death to be at least US$12 billion per year. As the CDC outlines, the cost in lost economic growth is many times more than that: “Costs to governments include maintenance, supply and staffing of health facilities; purchase of drugs and supplies; public health interventions against malaria, such as insecticide spraying or distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets; lost days of work with resulting loss of income; and lost opportunities for joint economic ventures and tourism.”

Businesses bear many of the same costs with lost employee productivity and costs to care for ill employees.

Dr. Nick Hamon, CEO of IVCC, remarked: “For companies who want to grow in Africa, now’s the time to get your brand out there with a small group of motivated companies who want to be part of the solution.” Hamon estimates that 5-10 companies contributing $1 million a year for 10 years would be sufficient to bring these three already-tested insecticides to market and make malaria eradication closer to reality.

As well as being the right thing to do, for companies who operate in areas impacted by malaria, this can also be seen as an opportunity for companies looking to grow and be seen as a human welfare leader.

“They can be a part of the solution right up front, with something we know is going to be successful,” Hamon said.