Corporate sustainability: Shooting for the moon?

3 October 2022
ITC News

This year’s Trade for Sustainable Development Forum on 30 September 2022 explored corporate sustainability due diligence

The International Trade Centre’s Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Forum 2022 saw over 1,000 participants in-person in Geneva and virtually to explore corporate sustainability due diligence.

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, ITC Executive Director, said during her opening remarks:

“For the very first time at the Trade for Sustainable Development Forum, we are going to the moon. (…) Why a moonshot metaphor? Because sustainability has been one of those seemingly insurmountable challenges, a complex task requiring long-term vision and collective effort. (…) At ITC we are strong believers in the power of the private sector to drive sustainable and inclusive trade.”

The speakers, ranging from economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs to small-business owner Emi-Beth Quantson and European Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala, explored the challenges and opportunities of the new regulations.

Overall, speakers converged on the importance of global cooperation, transparency and traceability throughout the value chains, and support for the small businesses in adapting to new legislations. Youth also was a re-current theme throughout all discussions, showing the importance of young people shaping a sustainable future.

The same holds true for systemic change – without changing the underlying paradigms, we will not be able to reach the moon.

Here are the ITC Executive Director’s final takeaways from the day-long discussions:

  1. There is a changing narrative in the global discussions. We all have a common goal for sustainable development, we are all on the same page even if we have different angles. How do we make it happen?
  2. There are critical disconnects between the consumer and large cooperations. How do we bridge that gap? Nobody takes responsibility. How do we encourage corporate due diligence and stop the blame-game?
  3. There are many pieces to the engine that make the rocket go to the moon. What are those pieces and how do we put them together? What are the key components? Corporate sustainability due diligence is one of those key components. How do we ensure that governments and private companies take responsibility for making it happen?
  4. Inclusion matters. Small businesses from developing countries need to have a voice. If they are not at the table, then we are missing a very critical component of the people who will have to implement changes and who will be responsible for living it. It is important that we as organizations, youth advocates, consumers, ensure that small businesses are present and that is one of the things we will do at COP27.

Finally, as Marie-Claire Graf, climate change activist from Switzerland, put it during the closing dialogue: “We do not need new promises.”

To watch the replay, click here: https://www.sustainabilitygateway.org/t4sdforum22/


3 October 2022