On 7 June Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo and Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman invited a group of top Belgian CEOs for a breakfast meeting. The aim was to exchange ideas and to discuss the importance of sustainable international development. “If we want to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and protect our planet better, we need the private sector”, according to the minister.
Alexander De Croo is the initiator of the Belgian SDG Charter, which builds bridges between international development and business. During the breakfast meeting the Minister and the CEOs discussed how companies could play their part in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants included the CEOs of Brussels Airlines, Delhaize and the Port of Antwerp.
“An international development policy without the cooperation of the private sector can never be sustainable.”
For the first time, the SDGs explicitly recognise the important role of the private sector in the area of international development. And Alexander De Croo is wholeheartedly behind that.
“If we want to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and protect our planet better, we need the private sector. Donor countries such as Belgium cannot accomplish the goals alone and companies are ready to play their part in realising the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies that embrace sustainable development are better companies. An international development policy without the cooperation of the private sector can never be sustainable. I am even more convinced of that today.”
Paul Polman: Advocate for the SDGs
Minister De Croo was particularly pleased about the presence of Paul Polman. The CEO of Unilever is one of the international advocates of close involvement of the private sector in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. He is also the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum and a member of the board of the UN Global Compact.
Paul Polman, CEO Unilever: “The Sustainable Development Goals offer huge economic opportunities if companies and governments join forces.”
Belgian SDG Charter for International Development
Alexander De Croo launched the Belgian SDG Charter at the end of last year, with a view to raising awareness of the ambitious development agenda among the private sector in Belgium. Meanwhile the charter has been signed by over 100 companies and organisations. Having helped draw up the charter, The Shift now promotes its implementation. In 2017 we are working with signatories to explore the potential of partnerships. A first meeting about this was held on 22 February. In March a number of signatories met to discuss renewable energy. In April there was a Change Lab focussed on partnerships in the international food chain and in May there was one on health.
Would you like to know more about the Belgian SDG Charter for International Development? Then please contact Charlotte Vroemans for more information.