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The UN Private Sector Forum:
The Millennium Development Goals and Food Sustainability

24 September 2008
UNHQ New York, 12:00pm-3:30pm

Co-organized by the UN Global Compact Office, the UN Development Programme, the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (in its role as coordinator of the High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis), the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, and the UN Office for Partnerships.

This first-ever UN Private Sector Forum, officially opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, brought together approximately 100 chief executives from around the world, Heads of State and Government, civil society leaders, heads of foundations and heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes to identify and discuss action needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in the context of the longer-term response to the global food crisis.

As the primary UN platform for business leaders and public policy makers to identify and scale up good practices in achieving greater food sustainability, the Forum was designed to inspire further individual and collective commitments by business and will also help to articulate the business perspective on what can and must be done to achieve the MDGs by 2015.


Seven thematic roundtable discussions were organized, focusing on approaches to addressing long-term development challenges associated with the food crisis and the MDGs.

  • Water access and management (lead organizer: UN Global Compact Office)
  • Agricultural inputs and infrastructure (lead organizers: Food and Agriculture Organization/International Fund for Agricultural Development)
  • Financial mechanisms and risk management instruments (lead organizer: World Bank and International Finance Corporation)
  • Nutrition (lead organizer: World Food Programme)
  • Energy and biofuels (lead organizers: UN Environment Programme/UN Office for Partnerships)
  • The role of technological innovations (lead organizer: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Global Alliance for ICT and Development)
  • Job creation for low-income populations (lead organizers: UN Development Programme/International Labour Organization)

Keynote speeches were delivered by former United States President Bill Clinton and activist musician Bob Geldof. The Forum was closed by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.


Key Outcomes

As a result of the Forum, a new phase in the collaboration between the private sector and the United Nations has begun – with leaders from business, civil society, governments, and the UN committing to deeper levels of partnership and engagement.

Nearly 20 new commitments were announced by individual participants or initiatives in support of specific MDGs.

Concrete recommendations were put forth with respect to urgent actions to be taken by business, governments and the UN in the critical areas discussed during the roundtable session.

The Secretary-General launched a new guide on Food Sustainability and the Role of the Private Sector, designed to inspire broader engagement from the private sector on critical issues related to food sustainability. The guide presents more than 30 best practices of how companies from a wide range of industry-sectors and countries are addressing key challenges. In addition, a new  framework for UN-business collaboration was also launched, designed to more effectively mobilize private sector engagement towards the MDGs. 

In addition, the Forum will feature the launch of the UK/UNDP-led Business Call to Action, a MDG engagement platform first introduced in May 2008 in London.

Several ongoing and promising initiatives – such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; The CEO Water Mandate; and Caring for Climate – were scaled up with new commitments by business leaders and stakeholders.

The outcomes of the Forum were presented by three business leaders - Mr. José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo (Petrobras), Ms. Ntombifuthi Mtoba (Deloitte South Africa) and Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg (Ericsson) - invited to speak during the 63rd General Assembly’s High-level meeting on the MDGs on 25 September.


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For more information contact:

Cecilie Hultmann
UN Global Compact Office

Media Contact:

Matthias Stausberg
UN Global Compact Office

(Last update 25 September 2008)