UN Private Sector Forum Discusses Business Action in Achieving the MDGs and Food Sustainability

Former United States President Bill Clinton and World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

24 September 2008: The first UN Private Sector Forum on the

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Food Sustainability convened on the

side of the opening of the UN General Assembly, to further business commitment

towards the MDGs and serve as platform to articulate business perspectives on

actions needed for their achievement.

Organized by the UN Global Compact

Office, the UN Development Programme, the UN Department of Economic and Social

Affairs, the UN Office for Partnerships and the Office of the Coordinator for

Humanitarian Affairs, the Forum brought together chief executives, civil

society leaders, as well as heads of State, foundations and of UN agencies,

funds and programmes. In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

called for increased investment in agriculture and expressed confidence that

private sector expertise will help tackle key issues such as water access and

management, agricultural inputs, technological innovations, and energy and


He then presented a document entitled “Food Sustainability: A Guide

to Private Sector Action,” containing recommendations and examples of best

practices intended to stimulate broader private sector engagement on critical

issues related to food sustainability. On energy and biofuels, the report

suggests, among other actions, that business: actively engage in the

development of an international standard for sustainable biofuel production and

commit to test, help refine and apply this standard; explore flexible markets,

such as the Brazilian option to switch from sugar to ethanol production

depending on prices and demand; enter into partnerships with UN agencies and

relevant organizations that encourage practices that allow sustainable access

to food and energy; and consider the potential benefits and infrastructure

needs of rural biofuel markets in developing countries.

The Guide also

encourages business to support the development of technologies for: increased

productivity, including ecological intensification; intercropping,

multi-purpose crops and cascading use of biomass; and use of degraded land not

suitable for food production and without conservation value. The Forum convened

seven thematic roundtables on key long-term challenges associated with the food

crisis and launched the Business Call to Action, a platform to mobilize private

sector efforts to support economic growth in developing countries and

contribute to the MDGs. A number of new commitments in support of specific MDGs

were also announced by individual participants or initiatives. [Forum

Website] [The