Rio +20 taking it forward in Iraq
By: Arouna Roshanian, UNDP Iraq
With the support of UNDP Iraq, a delegation from Iraqi private sector and the Government attended the Rio+20 on Sustainable Development.
The delegation, including four representatives from the private sector, two from the Government and one from UNDP Iraq, attended the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, organised by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) to strengthen business practices, advance and diffuse sustainable innovation and to stimulate broader collaboration between companies, governments, civil society and the UN.
The Forum brought together 2,700 business leaders, Government officials, investors, academics, grassroots activists from all over the world to discuss over 100 sessions on the six themes central to the Rio+20 agenda: Energy and Climate, Water and Ecosystems, Agriculture and Food, Social Development, Urbanization and Cities, and Economics and Finance.
At the forum, Iraqi delegates participated in a number of sessions, exchanging experiences and initiating cooperation with other country representatives and international experts. The work of the UNGC Iraq Network was presented on business, peace and sustainable development, women economic empowerment and inclusive and green growth in agriculture through public-private collaboration. Iraqi participants attended sessions on urbanization and cities, water and ecosystems and energy and climate. The Forum concluded with a high-level plenary, attended by the Secretary General of Iraq Council of Ministers H.E. Dr. Ali Allak, where corporate commitments and inputs to the Rio+20 Summit where finalised. An important outcome of the closing session was the support to the Sustainable Development Goals expressed by over 1,000 business executives, willing to partner with Governments and the UN in setting targets and implementation plans.
The full set of the discussion’s outcomes were collected in the document “Overview and Outcomes: Innovation and Collaboration, Public Policy Recommendations, Commitments to Action” that was presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the Rio+20 Summit.
Finally, a session on “Iraq’s Experience in Sustainable Development” was held to present the national report on sustainability, prepared by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning. The session provided an opportunity to discuss private sector cooperation and public-private partnerships and translate the Rio+20 commitments on sustainable development into actions on the ground taking the Iraqi context into account.
The event exposed Iraqi participants to innovative solutions, business models and partnership opportunities to enhance and implement a sustainable development agenda in Iraq by learning and exchanging best practices and experiences with global partners.
Mr. Imad Khalid Salih, a member of UNGC Iraq Network Steering Committee said “It was not just a regular meeting, event or gathering; it was definitely more than that in its intentions and practices. One could feel how small our performance was next to the actions of others and learn that much more can be done. We came across giant companies from around the world that allocated millions of their revenue to community development and help people, while sorting out its company's problems, showing how sustainable business practice can help save up to five times for the company itself. This made us understand that it is also for the benefit of the companies to take care of the people’s interests.”
A number of points relevant to Iraq emerged from Rio+20. These included the potential for the private sector to adopt innovative and sustainable business models to promote local development, the opportunity for governments and businesses to use clean energies to maximise the utilization of national resources and the role of responsible and sustainable businesses to contribute to peace and stability. Furthermore, activities to empower women from different companies and countries were presented to bring Iraq in line with the Women Empowerment Principles developed by the UN.