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Businesses must tackle global challenges with local solutions to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals

Kylie Porter | May 6, 2021

Global Compact Network Australia hosts ‘Making Global Goals Local Business Australia’ the inaugural event featuring Australia’s best business brains.

For the first time, Global Compact Network of Australia (GCNA) is hosting Making Global Goals Local Business – Australia, over two days the event held between 11-12 May 2021 aims to inspire urgent action from the broader business community to support the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Economically investing in the SDGs will provide approximately US$12 trillion in opportunities and savings according to the United Nations and the private sector in Australia can play a key role in bringing these opportunities to life. As the country recovers from the global pandemic, sustainability must remain a crucial cornerstone while reviewing and adapting business practice.

The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the intractable global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

United Nations Global Compact CEO and Executive Director, Sanda Ojiambo another notable speaker at the MGGLB event, says “Businesses need to incorporate efforts to rebuild in a way that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable for all, while taking into consideration how they can address inequalities while also managing the challenges of climate change. Sustainability can be profitable and with less than 10 years to achieve the SDGs, it is important for business to act now.”

GCNA Executive Director Kylie Porter says, “After 2020, global conversations have shifted and elevated focus on environmental, social and governance issues. This provides a ripe opportunity to invest in futureproofing our business practices, and in turn our economies. The 17 goals outlined in the SDGs highlight the significant commitment required for global, and specifically local businesses to review the way that they operate and align business objectives with responsible and sustainable practice.”

“Australian businesses not only have an opportunity, but also a responsibility, to reflect on their existing practices and partnerships, and establish strategies that will protect their ongoing investments. We are actioning the MGGLB locally in order to create a space of ideation to ensure the resilience of local economies, local job security and local export abilities. Through collaboration, we can establish a best practice that future proofs Australian business capabilities in line with SDGs.”

Making Global Goals Local Business – Australia features speakers from Australia’s brightest and most informed business leaders. Attendees will hear from the likes of Paul Polman, Co-Founder and Chair, Imagine, Louise Adams, CEO for Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon; CEO of the Year, CEO Magazine, Salvatore Bernabei, CEO, Enel Green Power; Head of the Global Power Generation Division and Head of Africa, Asia and Oceania, Enel, James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Group and Ming Long AM, Chair,  AMP Capital Funds Limited; Deputy Chair, Diversity Council Australia; Non-Executive Director.

Collectively, the forum will discuss how responsible business practices can create new market opportunities and accelerate action to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Through panel discussions, break out groups and keynote speeches via the in-person and virtual event, this event also offers key networking opportunities with local and global leaders from business, government, civil society and academia.

Despite ongoing challenges, including the ongoing global pandemic that limit and impact consistent progress towards SDGs, the roadblocks tend to uncover unforeseen innovations in technology, digitalisation and the ways international relations can be actioned beyond border closures.

Making Global Goals Local Business – Australia 2021 agenda:

  • Sessions:
    • Defining Responsible Leadership in the Decade to Deliver – The path to 2030 and delivering the SDGs will require ambitious and authentic leadership. Businesses will need to have the courage to stand up and stand out, even if it means standing alone. Doing so can create greater trust in key stakeholders, drive sustainable business returns and build resilient leadership teams.
    • Building Back Greener: Leadership In Action – Over a year since COVID-19 was recognised as a global pandemic, most institutions have recognised that we cannot go back to ‘business as usual’. Instead, the economic recovery should focus on policies that trigger investments and behavioural changes that reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase society’s resilience to shocks. In addition, business and governments need to support a recovery that enables us to achieve net zero before 2050, that builds resilience to climate impacts, regenerates our biodiversity and increases the circularity of supply chains. Well-designed recovery approaches will allow businesses to catalyse the shift to investment in low-carbon technologies and support decentralised electricity systems. This session will include a keynote address and a facilitated discussion on the crucial role that businesses play in building back greener and the leadership needed to deliver on the SDGs.
    • Moving Beyond Incrementalism: Confronting Complexities, Unlocking Collaborations and Speaking Out – From the devastating impacts of climate change, heightened human rights risks, widening inequalities and an unprecedented global health crisis, business leaders are being called upon to lend their voices and influence to solve the world’s greatest challenges. We know that we cannot achieve the SDGs without the private sector and that collaborative action among businesses will be crucial to spurring the scale and speed of change necessary to deliver the 2030 Agenda. This session will explore why business leadership on the SDGs is so critical to driving transformative change and unpack how the actions of those courageous enough to speak out can tip an entire industry.
    • Sustainable Development at a Crossroads: Ambitious Business Action for the SDGs – With a deadline of 2030, the countdown clock to the SDGs is ticking faster than we are acting. We know that the world is not on track to deliver this global agenda for sustainability. Urgent and radical action is needed to scale ambition and transform lives, businesses, economies and environments. While the magnitude of the challenge is immense, this session will highlight the progress made to date and give a call to action to Australian businesses to rise to the challenge posed by the Decade to Deliver.
    • Overcoming the Inequality Virus: Leaving No One Behind – 2020 laid bare the structural inequalities embedded into our economies, political systems, justice systems and daily lives. In 2021, we have the opportunity to rebuild more inclusive societies and align our economy to sustainable and resilient outcomes. But unless progress accelerates, the core promise of the SDGs – to leave no one behind – will remain a distant goal by 2030. The promise of an inclusive and equitable Australia is one that rests on meaningful engagement with our First Nations people, reinforced by ambitious business and government action to create structural changes across our society. This session will unpack the opportunities for business to listen to, learn from, and act in partnership with Australian First Nations people to build a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
    • Pathways to Decarbonisation: Innovation and Opportunities – There are decisions and actions we can take today that put us on the path to a green and inclusive future. Significant technological advances and ongoing innovation mean that the attainment of a decarbonised economy by 2050 is possible for Australia. But it is the real actions taken in the next ten years, not the ambitions set for the next 30, that will enable businesses and societies to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This session will explore how businesses can harness existing technologies and opportunities, take radical action to decarbonise their operations and supply chains, and prepare for a net–zero future.
    • Tipping Points: Prioritising the SDGs for a Sustainable Recovery – Drawing on the lessons learned from times of crisis, this session will explore how businesses can ensure that the building blocks of today’s recovery can set us on a resilient and sustainable path to 2030.
    • A Planet Under Pressure: Reimagining Responsible Consumption – This session will bring together leaders on responsible consumption to unpack how businesses can drive the radical changes necessary to transition to a circular economy and mitigate the current levels of environmental degradation that are endangering the very systems on which our collective future depends.
    • Innovator Spotlight – What does innovation, business success and driving progress towards the SDGs look like? New mindsets, business models, and disruptive technologies, products and services play a key role in accelerating progress towards creating systemic financial, social and environmental value through the SDGs. Drawing on diverse experiences from the entrepreneurial start–up world, this session will highlight the level of ambition, the values and the practical actions required to translate innovative ideas into transformative changes.
    • Fireside Chat –Trust and Purpose: Licence to Compete – The world is changing at a rapid pace. The modern day workplace has undergone fundamental transformations and the future of the changing global business landscape is far from certain. For business to thrive in the Decade to Deliver, purpose beyond profit can no longer be optional –it will need to be built into every aspect of the business. This session will unpack the importance of authentically defining a business’s purpose beyond profit and how doing so can build resilient and sustainable business models that generate both financial returns and social impact at scale.


  • Louise Adams – CEO for Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon; CEO of the Year, CEO Magazine
  • Salvatore Bernabei – CEO, Enel Green Power; Head of the Global Power Generation Division and Head of Africa, Asia and Oceania, Enel
  • Linda Brown – President and CEO, Laureate and Torrens University Australia
  • Kate Carnell AO – Acting Member, Climate Change Authority; Director, Beyond Blue; Board Member, Australian Made Campaign; Former Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
  • David Cooke – Chair, Global Compact Network Australia
  • Zoe Daniel – Journalist
  • Brooke Donnelly – CEO, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO)
  • Colleen Harris – Group Chief People Officer, Ramsay Health Care
  • Michelle Hutton – CEO, Edelman Australia; Vice Chair, Edelman Asia Pacific
  • Usman Iftikhar – CEO, Catalysr
  • Terence Jeyaretnam – Partner, Climate Change and Sustainability Services, EY
  • Musimbi Kanyoro – Chair, UWC International, Former President and CEO, Global Fund for Women
  • Natalie Kyriacou OAM – Founder and CEO, My Green World; Board Advisor, Women Leaders Institute; Management Consultant, PwC
  • Ming Long AM – Chair, AMP Capital Funds Limited; Deputy Chair, Diversity Council Australia; Non-Executive Director
  • Robin Mellon – CEO, Better Sydney
  • Ashleigh Morris – Co-Founder and CEO, Coreo
  • Sanda Ojiambo – CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
  • Rodrigo Pizarro – Managing Director, L’Oréal Australia
  • Paul Polman – Co-Founder and Chair, Imagine
  • Kylie Porter – Executive Director, Global Compact Network Australia
  • Chris Reed – Managing Director, Neometals
  • Shelley Reys AO – CEO, Arilla Consulting; Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG Australia
  • Sanaka Samarasinha – Resident Coordinator, United Nations, Fiji MCO responsible for 10 countries in the Pacific
  • Murray Saylor – Managing Director, Tagai Management Consultants
  • Kathryn Sforcina – Non-Executive Director, Farmbot; Author, Digitalizing Sustainability (Nov 21 Launch); Senior Expert, UNEP, UNFCCC, UN IGF and UNDRR
  • Gary Smith – CEO, BioPak
  • Ciara Sterling – CEO, Thriving Communities Partnerships
  • Amanda Sturgeon – Head of Regenerative Design, Mott MacDonald
  • Katherine Teh – Managing Director, Futureye
  • James Thornton – CEO, Intrepid Group
  • Sasha Titchkosky – CEO, Koskela; AFR Woman of Influence
  • Ted Tolfree – CEO, Crisp and Macedon Ranges Produce
  • Sophia Hamblin Wang – Chief Operating Officer, Mineral Carbonation International
  • Daniel Ziffer – Reporter, The Business and ABC News.

To attend the Making Global Goals Local Business’ event on 11 and 12 May 2021, purchase tickets at: https://unglobalcompact.org.au/mgglb-australia/



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article by

Kylie Porter

Kylie is a sustainability expert with over 18 years of experience in corporate affairs, sustainability and strategy roles across a broad range of industries. During her career, Kylie has helped numerous companies develop and implement responsible business strategies, managed reputation risk for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and wrote and managed policies across various thematic areas including climate change and human rights.