Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development Opening Speech Day 2 - Michelle Yeoh, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

Nov 30, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to be here for the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development.

It is wonderful to see- over 600 global business leaders, senior government officials, UN Agencies and NGO’s from across the globe – all pulling in the same direction. To share a common vision of responsibility and sustainability, and to ensure that no one is left behind.

I hope this unique forum is providing you fresh insights on how private businesses can contribute to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

As the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, I am honored and humbled to cast light on the most pressing issues of the SDGs – achieving Gender Equality -- and how each and every one of you here -- a strong representation of the private sector -- have the power to make an enormous difference.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my movies, you see me perform death defying stunts – I fly through the air, leap off moving trucks and helicopters. Jump off buildings. Behind the scenes however, an entire crew of people, props and gadgets help me in my missions to fight evil and save the world.

Much in the same way, the success of the Sustainable Development Goals depends on many different actors coming together to save the world.

It has been slightly over a year since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our pursuit to achieve these goals, will touch the lives of people everywhere. The scale and ambition of the 2030 Development Agenda creates a tremendous opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate the central role it plays in sustainable development and human prosperity.


The private sector is always at the cutting edge of innovation and technology, always ahead of the curve.

So keep thinking outside the box, redefine that box, reimagine it and create innovative, sustainable, and long term initiatives to improve the livelihoods of communities around you.

There are many avenues if you don’t know where to start.

For instance, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) for which UNDP hosts the secretariat.

The Business Call to Action aims to accelerate progress towards the SDGs by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

Over 170 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises, in 65 countries, have responded to the Business Call to Action.

They have committed to improving the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water and sanitation, education and other critical services.

The Business Call to Action member companies are market leaders -- examples of successful, profitable businesses that are models for reaching poor communities and contributing to global development.

There are 17 goals to work on and you may choose the goals that best reflect what your organization believes in.

Later today, I will speak about a very important issue that is close to my heart: Gender Equality.

In that session, I will talk about how governments and private businesses in Asia and the Pacific can support Goal 5 of the SDGs – To Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

I hope all of you are intrigued, as it is a compelling and dynamic initiative by UNDP. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The journey to achieving the SDGs will be long and arduous.

Along the way, there will be victories.

There will be hiccups.

There will challenges.

But as long as all actors of the development world continue to innovate and most crucially, collaborate, nothing will stop us from achieving our aspirations for peace, prosperity, wellbeing, and the conservation of our planet. 

The SDGs need you. But more importantly, we need to do this for our future, our children, our planet.  Ultimately that is why we have the SDGs.

It is fitting that we come together in the year UNDP celebrates its 50th anniversary to join forces to innovate and collaborate…to create a future where no one is left behind.

And we must leave no one behind.  Thank you.  

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