VIDEO – UN Global Compact CEO Sanda Ojiambo on closing the SDG action gap in 2022

EXCLUSIVE: With just eight years remaining to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), edie has spoken with UN Global Compact chief executive and executive director Sanda Ojiambo during an action-packed Global Goals Week (15–22 January) at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Speaking outside of the UN Hub within the Expo this week, Ojiambo said there remains “a clear gap between policy, commitment, action and outcomes”, and that more businesses must be setting science-based emissions reduction targets if we are to truly tackle the climate crisis.

“The climate crisis is going to affect all of us in some way, shape and form,” Ojiambo said. “So, it’s imperative that businesses look at what their emissions footprint is and therefore what the right type of action is.

“It may be in the mitigation space, or the adaptation space or the resilience space, or it may be that a company has an enormous opportunity to shift its financing in favour of climate action.”

Ojiambo was speaking during Global Goals Week, which – for the first time in its history – has left the UN General Assembly to be hosted at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Ojiambo said the Expo offered a unique opportunity to drive sustainability at what is a critical point in time for the SDG agenda.

“We are at a deep inflection point,” she said. “The pandemic set us back in many ways in terms of progress on the SDGs, so this is an opportunity to pause, rethink and build new momentum around the Goals.”

COP26 reflections

Global Compact is a UN pact which encourages firms worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. Prior to the COP26 climate talks last year, the initiative undertook a survey of 1,200 CEOs, which revealed that 70% of business leaders recognise the need for climate action, but just 2% had actually set science-based targets.

“It highlights a clear gap between policy, commitment, action and outcomes,” Ojiambo said. “But where there’s an action gap, there’s a solution in science-based targets to address that.”

In the video, Ojiambo also reflects on the COP26 talks from two months ago, where she spoke. The Kenyan administrator was pleased to see all of the major issues being brought to the table in Glasgow, but would like to have seen more progress around green finance and coal.

“One of the things we did achieve was a desire to keep 1.5C alive and I think that’s really important,” she said. “Issues such as adaptation, resilience and biodiversity are now on the agenda, and there’’s clear course for action around that.

“But the estimates are that we’re severely off track… There’s areas where the negotiations were not as progressive. Climate finance was definitely one that didn’t reach where we wanted to go, and the coal piece as well.”

With COP28 due to take place in Dubai in 2023, Ojiambo said the Expo – global gathering to share ideas, showcase innovation and encourage collaboration among 192 participating countries – offers “a perfect foundation for climate action going forward”.

edie at Global Goals Week 

edie has been given unrivalled access to Expo 2020 in Dubai for the duration of Global Goals Week.

Earier this week, we spoke the Expo’s director of sustainability operations, Dina Storey, about how the Expo is setting a new standard for sustainable global events, and the work she and her team are doing to ensure a positive climate legacy from this mega-event. WATCH THAT VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE.

The Chair of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, Nisreen Elsaim, who told us that more organisations must champion business models which put planet over profit, if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. WATCH THAT VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE. 

View all of our Global Goals content here, and discover how your business can accelerate progress towards each of the 17 Goals in our dedicated SDG Spotlight report series, here.

Global Goals at the Sustainability Leaders Forum 2022

The Sustainable Development Goals are a running theme of edie’s flagship event of the year, the multi-award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum.

Taking place live in London on 8–9 March 2022, the event will re-unite business leaders, sustainability practitioners, policymakers, investors and NGOs around a common goal: to turn the ambitions of COP26 into meaningful climate actions and to truly transform business, for good.

Find out more and secure your place at the Forum here.

edie staff

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