More than just philanthropy – also good business
More than 300 private sector representatives were gathered this week in Cairo to explore how the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be used in Egypt to ensure that the companies are ready for the future. Because sustainability is no longer just philanthropy, but also good business.
“We have gathered ministers, ambassadors and business people for a two-day conference in Cairo to increase the awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa. We want to give business professionals tangible and readily implementable tools to use that will both benefit businesses and society as a whole,” says Eng. Ahmed Kamal, Executive director of Environmental Compliance Office and Sustainable Development the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
The UN Sustainable Development is a framework agreed among 193 countries and it addresses the main global challenges that societies face across the globe. There are 17 goals covering everything from poverty and hunger to economic growth and decent jobs. The private sector plays a central role in reaching these goals.
Among the speakers at the conference that took place at the Nile Ritz-Carlton were HE Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, HE Tomas Christensen, Danish Ambassador to Egypt , Mr. Richard Dictus, UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt , Dr. Ahmed Kamaly, Deputy Minister for Planning affairs
At the conference, 12 selected companies were awarded the SDG Award from the Federation of Egyptian Industries for being some of the leading companies within sustainable development. The conference also saw the launch of the umbrella initiative SDGrowth that aims to work with Egyptian companies to strategically use the global goals as a business driver.
One of the companies that presented at the conference was the Danish fruit based producer Orana. Their director Ms. Sia Oskarson spoke on how the company is both developing their company in Egypt while also being sustainable.
“The Sustainable Development Goals are not something we implemented recently. It has always been in Orana’s DNA to behave responsibly towards our people and the planet. Simply because it makes sense for us and for our business,” says Sia Oskarson, director in Orana.
An international perspective
The conference was held in partnership with the Confederation of Danish Industry – the largest employer organisation in Europe with more than 11,000 member companies.
“In the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Sustainable Development Goals play a key role. This conference is about bringing together the private, public and NGO sectors to facilitate knowledge sharing and establish new partnerships. It benefits both companies and society when development happens sustainably. The Sustainable Development Goals give companies a global language whether it is in Egypt or in Denmark,” says Marion Hannerup, director at the Confederation of Danish Industry.
The participants left the conference with a clear understanding that companies play a key role in developing our societies sustainably. The private sector should not only embrace the SDGs because of philanthropical or altruistic reasons, but also because it makes business sense.