Business for Peace Summit 2017

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Business for Peace Summit in Oslo, 16 May 2017.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg at Business for Peace Summit in Oslo.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg at Business for Peace Summit in Oslo. Credit: Office of the Prime Minister

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First of all, let me say how pleased I am to attend the 11th Business for Peace Summit here in Oslo.

I also applaud the theme chosen for this year’s summit – which is inspired by the 30th anniversary of the Brundtland Commission’s report “Our Common Future”. This report broke new ground and showed remarkable foresight. It took nearly 30 years for the world to respond to its call for action. The 2030 Agenda is indebted to this pioneering work.

Today’s topic is framed as a question that we all should be asking ourselves: Why do we need to future-proof our economies, societies and business models? 

The answer is very simple. It is because we want the best for the coming generations, for our country, for our planet. Business decisions have an impact not only on profit, but also on the wellbeing of people and the planet. Our futures are woven together, and will be formed by how we choose to act now. 

This is why Norway and 192 other countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are universal. They reflect the fact that we have a common future and only one planet.

I will therefore ask the question again with a “how” rather than a “why”:  How can we future-proof our economies, societies and business models?

The 17 SDGs provide us with tools that can help us manage our world in a better way. The SDGs are just as important for the business sector. Given the scale of this sector’s global impact, businesses have a key role to play in shaping our future. 

Future-proofing is an ambitious task. That said, ambition is part of the private sector’s DNA. I applaud the increasing number of companies that are aligning their business strategies with the SDGs. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission is making the case for companies to grasp the vast economic opportunities to be found in the global Sustainable Development Goals campaign.

The Businessworthy Pledge to support the Sustainable Development Goals is another case in point. This campaign is growing as we speak. I am glad to learn that new pledges have been made since last year. The total capital controlled by business leaders who have signed up to this pledge amounts to more than USD 665 billion. This is impressive.

The initiatives I am talking about involve many business leaders present here today – how about a round of applause?

Now we are in business – business that is good for people and good for the planet. I am convinced that the market for innovations that boost sustainability will grow faster than any other. 

Future-proofing also means leaving no one behind. Conflict and war create the greatest hurdle on the track to poverty eradication and sustainable development. As the private sector has a considerable impact on people’s lives, businesses can make a real difference – in alleviating conflict, and by providing post-conflict peace dividends through investments and job creation.

Inclusion and gender equality are other future-proofing criteria. Norway has been fortunate when it comes to natural resources. Through the investment decisions we took at the start of our oil-producing era, we have improved the opportunities for women to join the labour market – thereby increasing our economic growth and making it more sustainable.

I particularly welcome your decision to foster an inter-generational discussion. Combining theinnovative spirit of youth with the experience and maturity of those who are older is a recipe for success. I am confident that the various summit events will give us all fresh inspiration to be “business-worthy” in our many different ways.

The global building blocks for future-proofing our world are in place. The 2030 agenda is the main track to the future we want.

Thank you