In 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as part of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” to achieve the targets of ending poverty and hunger, protecting the planet and ensuring shared prosperity and sustained economic growth. Lalith Gunaratne, our business partner in Canada and one of the directors of our joint venture company oursun Canada Inc., was invited to participate in the UN panel event “Global Goals, Local Action: A High-Level Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” focusing on the realisation of these goals.
The UN forum, which took place on June 10, 2016 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, brought together subject matter experts and youth leaders, and involved two panel sessions. Lalith was a part of the morning panel “Marketing and Promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, where business experts shared their views on how to apply innovative marketing strategies regarding the SDGs. The panellists discussed how to ensure a buy-in by the general public and encouraging citizens to work hand-in-hand with the business community to achieve the global SDGs – end poverty, promote prosperity and citizens’ well-being while protecting the planet by 2030.
The topic of Lalith’s speech was the role of corporations in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He presented a reality check on the impact the world of business can make on development and emphasised how important it is that corporations act socially responsibly. Lalith underlined that sharing value with the surrounding communities and the nation is crucial in our interconnected world. The corporations can no longer externalise the affluence, pollution and other environmental and social impacts of their products, as there is a cost to society to mitigate the harmful effects of these.
In this context, Lalith stressed that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no longer a shallow image building exercise, but it has to be embedded as a cost center for doing business responsibly. “That is about sharing value and that is how corporations gain its social license to operate”, he summarised. It takes courageous business leaders to consider the entire system of this planet from the environment to social and economic impacts in designing and running their businesses, moving away from the sole metric of quarterly profits. “I am optimistic that this change is happening so more and more corporations now can become partners of the SDG process”, Lalith stated.
During his speech, Lalith moreover introduced oursun Canada as part of The meeco Group operating in the energy business with a focus on solar projects in some of the most difficult markets in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. “We believe in long-term relationships and aim to grow with the country to help make it green,” he described the objective of our work. oursun Canada was incorporated with a focus on the Canadian indigenous communities, often off-grid regions depending on diesel generators. Our joint venture company can bring in not only the technology, but also the financing and, most importantly, add value by developing local technical, management and leadership competencies too. oursun is also looking to help many Canadian mining companies operating globally to go green with hybrid solar systems. The participation in this UN forum represented a huge opportunity for Lalith to share his thoughts and expertise and to present the work of oursun Canada at the same time.
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