Highlights from Concordia, Bloomberg & Gates’ Goalkeepers
Last week’s General Assembly of the United Nations arguably has become as much about the side events — scheduled to capitalize on the presence of many world political leaders and media attention — as the 72nd UN meeting itself. The schedule was so packed with overlapping events that we wondered if some politicians, philanthropists and CEOs had hired body doubles to make it to all of their speaking commitments! Fortunately, many of the events were recorded in case you couldn’t attend or watch live.
Even without the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) — with its big names and even bigger philanthropic commitments — last week was characterized by an unmissable corporate sector presence. There was no shortage of groups stepping up to ensure that cross-sector collaboration to achieve the Global Goals—particularly including businesses, large and small— remained a central focus of conversations.
Below we highlight three of the largest business-focused events: the Concordia Annual Summit; the Bloomberg Global Business Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Event.
Monday, September 18th — Tuesday, September 19th
Now in its seventh year, The Concordia Summit describes itself as a “leading nonpartisan global affairs forum” that works “to foster dialogue, fuel collaboration and leverage the power of partnerships in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.”
Over 3000 “thought leaders, influencers and decision makers from across the public, private and nonprofit space” attended this two-day summit. Both days were streamed by Concordia on Youtube and are available to rewatch [Day 1, Day 2].
High profile business speakers included Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of AIRBNB; Kathleen McLaughlin, SVP and President of the Walmart Foundation; and the Hon. Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Featured sessions in development included:
- Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Women’s Leadership and Economic Empowerment as Key Drivers of Global Development
- Transatlantic Relations: Anchor of the Free World Order
- Shortage & Scarcity: Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela
In a session titled Meeting the Challenge: How Partnerships Are Addressing the Global Humanitarian Crisis, Joe Gebbia explained how Airbnb is “tapping into the natural generosity” of people and leveraging its company resources to help temporarily displaced families.
The Summit concluded with the announcement of the 2017 P3 Impact Award that recognizes impactful public-private partnerships (P3s). The award was presented to Sanitation Marketing Systems in Bangladesh (SanMarkS Project). It is a partnership between the Bangladesh Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), iDE, Rangpur Foundry Limited (RFL, a plastics manufacturer), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and UNICEF that takes a “market systems approach that addresses both the demand and supply of hygienic latrines”. The partnership conducted market research to show the ability of consumers to purchase mid-range latrines and also worked with manufactures to produce latrines that met consumer preferences and price points. Over a million people have been impacted through this partnership, according to award recipients.
Following the Summit, Concordia — with its research partners International Peace Institute and the Sustainable Development Goals Fund — launched a new report “A New Way of Doing Business: Partnering for Peace and Sustainable Development”.
Matthew Swift, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Concordia, said:
“[Public and private] sectors speak very different languages, but as an institute that focuses on what public-private sector cooperation can achieve, it’s important to get both on the same page. And the SDGs do a very nice job communicating to CEOs around the world ways in which they can follow this framework of the seventeen goals towards both changing the way they do business but also thinking about the role the private sector has in various communities.”
Put bluntly by Joan M. Larrea, The Chief Executive Officer of Convergence:
“Peace is really good for business, but business is really, really good for peace.”
Wednesday, September 20th
The inaugural Bloomberg Global Business Forum kicked off with a clear “passing of the baton” from former president Bill Clinton. The rest of the day was filled with panels and conversations billed “to address the most pressing economic issues facing us today: how to create sustained job and economic growth while encouraging technological innovations; the need for new international trade and immigration policies; how cities and nations must redouble their effort to confront the urgent crisis of climate change; and how to drive economic opportunity and prosperity while reducing inequality in the twenty-first century and beyond.”
While Bloomberg’s forum may have been shorter (one day verses three) and less commitment-focused than CGI, it certainly attracted its fair share of star power — from Lebron James (via a pre-taped video) to the who’s who of business leaders and billionaires. In attendance were 250 global CEOs and representatives from 70 publicly traded companies with a total market cap of $4.4 trillion.
Attendees were treated to numerous quotes and insights from their high-profile speakers. Here is a collection of some of our favorites as documented through @BloombergLive.
- “I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been, but the challenges are also bigger than they’ve ever been.” @MikeBloomberg
- Pres. Macron at #BloombergGBF: goal for France & Europe is to be leader for climate change, new finance & artificial intelligence
- Alibaba’s Jack Ma says “humans have solutions” to tackle the future of AI and technology automating jobs
- Alibaba’s Jack Ma says people should stop looking to manufacturing growth for jobs
- “Coding is the key for the middle class for tomorrow, and today.” @Tim_Cook
- Bhattacharya of State Bank of India: financial inclusion has to be accessible, affordable and have high quality.
- “Trade leads to growth. That’s the story of our world over the past century.” -Canadian PM @JustinTrudeau
- “SDGs is the single biggest opportunity in the next few decades. I don’t even know what we’re arguing about.” -@anandmahindra
- “Poverty alleviation is only the first step on the ladder.” -Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga
- “These are very sane investments for the future of humanity.” -Unilever’s @PaulPolman on SDGs
- “People love to solve problems. We should be positive…these are the issues and we will confront them” -EXOR’s John Elkann
- CCIEE’s Zhang Xiaoqiang on potential impact of Belt & Road: “the Asia-Europe corridor contains >60% of the world population.”
- “Global outcomes, if they are to succeed, means that they have to succeed in Africa,” Ghana’s president @NAkufoAddo says
- President Erdogan says Turkey has 3M Syrian refugees, is housing 260K in camps and will keep taking care of them
Even Bill Gates, who was hosting his own forum the same day (see below), stopped in for the final panel called “How Technology is Disrupting Poverty, Energy and Health Care”.
“My main focus is on the inequity… These are all solvable diseases. We can get rid of that inequity.” — Bill Gates, on his commitment to innovations for global health.
According to the New York Times, “if any theme emerged from the conversations onstage and in press room briefings, it was that the business world had an opportunity to demonstrate some moral leadership on policy issues ranging from immigration to climate change.”
There are several good recaps of GBF already available, with more sure to come. Rana el Kaliouby writes up four key messages from the Forum, including a focus on partnerships, leadership, inclusion, and technological advances. Impact Alpha’s summary of the event highlights various statements and announcements that occurred during the Forum, including the organization of a Global Climate Summit to be held in San Francisco next summer.
Wednesday, September 20th
Competing (schedule-wise at least) with Bloomberg was the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Event. Also in its first year, this two-day event consisted of an evening presentation of the Global Goals Awards, in partnership with UNICEF, and a full day summit of presentations and speeches from innovators, philanthropists, and social media influencers. The Goalkeepers event centered around the Goalkeepers Report, released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation earlier in September.
“This report tracks 18 data points included in the SDGs that we believe are fundamental to people’s health and well-being. To complement the data, we’re also telling the stories behind the numbers — about the leaders, innovations, and policies that have made the difference in countries where progress has been most significant.” — from the 2017 Goalkeepers Report
Keynote speakers for the Goalkeepers included Malala Yousafzai, will.i.am, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (also making an appearance at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum earlier that day), Trevor Noah, and former President Barack Obama. The Guardian captured the buzz of optimism during the afternoon sessions of the event, especially during Obama’s highly anticipated address and conversation with Melinda and Bill Gates.
The event also announced four Accelerators that create partnerships to “catalyze investments, expertise, and innovation to drive further progress towards the SDGs.” These Accelerators are focused on Targets from four of the seventeen SDGs.
- Advancing Digital Financial Inclusion for All — (Target 8.10) Brings together governments and companies to champion greater financial inclusion through expanding digital payments, encouraging technological innovation, and committing to international declarations. Partners include Unilever, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, GSMA, and more.
- Scaling National Community Health Worker Programs — (Target 3.c) Together with over 15 partners, including universities and education organizations, Last Mile Health announced the first continuing education platform for Community Health Worker programs around the world.
- Investing in the Women Changing the World — (Goal 5) Dedicated to investing in women and girls, Melinda Gates announced a significant portions of funds from the Gates Foundation would be earmarked for grassroots women’s organizations and movements.
- The Power of Nutrition — (Targets 2.1 and 2.2) Partners including the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID),the UBS Optimus Foundation, UNICEF and the World Bank, came together to announce $250 million in investments in Madagascar, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and India to provide nutritious food and nutrition education to children.
The New York Times rounds up the week of these events featuring leaders in the private sector, as we now look forward to the new innovations, investments, and achievements that will hopefully we discussed at next year’s events!