Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Business Call to Action: transforming lives through business

Today, the UK Government and the United Nations Development Programme will be hosting an event of over 80 CEO’s in London. The Business Call to Action event will bring together business leaders from around the world and challenge their companies to explore new business opportunities that use their core business expertise in a way that contributes both to the Millennium Development Goals and to their commercial success.

Last July, in a speech at the UN, the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for a new global partnership to deal with what is a development emergency: the shortfall in progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The PM and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, have both made clear this is a global Call to Action which cannot be achieved by governments alone, and where the private sector has a unique role. The speech was accompanied by two statements, one by Heads of State and the other by business

The Business Call to Action Website, includes more on the event and the MDG Call to Action, speeches, a live blog from the event, video, films and photos.

I believe the event is significant for two reasons. First, it showcases the important contribution that businesses can make through their core business. The event will look at new business ideas and initiatives which go beyond philanthropy, and that will support economic growth and reduce poverty in developing countries.

Numerous other examples of this sort of good practice are highlighted by Business Action for Africa and showcased on our Google Map. The second reason that the event is important is that it implicitly recognises that growth, enterprise and employment are the only long-term solutions to poverty.

If you are interested in fighting poverty through business, I would urge you to join Business Fights Poverty – a professional network of experts and practitioners from around the world that we have just set up. The Business Call to Action event is the start of a long journey - it will take a movement of like-minded people, not just an event, to make the difference that is needed.