Sustainability Summit 2020 discussed the role of small businesses in attaining the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after the pandemic set back progress made in recent years.

United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) CEO and executive director Sanda Ojiambo said that the pandemic caused a humanitarian and economic crisis that pushed global SDGs off track. Furthermore, it hit small firms hard, disrupted supply chains and jeopardized business operations.

“We firmly believe that the SDGs can be achieved only with active support and leadership from these enterprises. That’s why the UNGC in every region has pivoted to help support MSMEs weather the current storm and position themselves for sustainable recovery,” says Ojiambo.

She says that the UNGC has crafted a sustainable micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) program that will provide expertise in recovery and business resilience strategies. National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon noted during the forum that the pandemic urged business owners to adopt more sustainable practices.

“It has been said that this pandemic has come about because of some unsustainable practices we have, whether in production or consumption. Once they emerge from the acute response to COVID-19, MSMEs will benefit from the creation of a cohesive narrative for their recovery that mobilizes efforts across sectors,” says Edillon.

The government is positioned to focus on these five areas in the post-pandemic business era: health system improvement, food security, learning continuity, digital transformation and ecological integrity. According to Edillon, it’s still too early to say if the time-bound targets of SDGs will reset, but that a recovery strategy of growth, inclusion and sustainability is still on the table.

However, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in an October policy brief that even under the most optimistic scenario, eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 (one of the 17 SDGs) may no longer be possible due the pandemic.

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