UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Heads of State and dozens of CEOs and UN Chiefs convened at this year’s UN Global Compact Leaders Summit to address global issues. Among the issues discussed included crises of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, social and economic inequality and unchecked corruption.

Opening the Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Only through global cooperation at an unprecedented level can we build back from the pandemic, get on track to achieve the SDGs and avert the worst impacts of climate change. Business has a central role to play. Your efforts and leadership can lift the entire world. In every sector, a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic changes demanded by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

On his part, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact noted, “Events in the extraordinary year since our last Leaders Summit have proven how fragile our systems and how unequal our societies really are. Amidst a pandemic, an economic crisis and a climate emergency, business as usual is no longer an option. Instead, this is a time for ambition.”

Speaking at the Africa plenary session on the power and potential of women’s leadership in government and business, Jane Karuku Group Managing Director of East African Breweries Limited said “As a business, we have found it key to have champions of diversity. From the lowest level to the board level, we strive to improve female representation. By 2030, we aim to have 50-50 male-female representation in our organization.”

During the Summit, the UN Global Compact SDG Ambition Accelerator program announced that it will be open to further participants to set and meet targets for sustainability. The program will be running in 32 Networks including Global Compact Network Kenya.

The plenary session dubbed Financing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement explored how linking ESG to meaningful corporate sustainability action benefits investors and companies. The UN Global Compact CFO Taskforce committed to key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure their progress towards the implementation of the CFO Principles on Integrated SDG Investment and Finance.

Other speakers at the Summit included UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, Inger Andersen, Executive Director UNEP, Michelle Bachelet, UNHCR’s Sharan Burrow, among others.