Amid Fragmentation, Leaders Advance Innovative Public-Private Partnerships to Accelerate SDGs

21 Sep 2023

World Economic Forum,

  • More than 1,000 leaders from government, business and civil society committed to accelerating momentum on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023
  • The meetings addressed all 17 SDGs, including responding to the climate and nature crises, improving access to nutrition, harnessing AI for better jobs and advancing digital inclusion
  • The Forum also released new insights on the global economic outlook, the effect of AI on jobs and the importance of restoring and safeguarding nature, and advanced more than 25 ongoing initiatives and partnerships
  • Learn more about the Sustainable Development Impact Meetings here and share on social media using the hashtag #SDIM23

New York, USA, 21 September 2023 – As geopolitical volatility, a weak global economy and deepening climate and nature crises stall progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaders at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023 called for strong, pragmatic and innovative partnerships among governments, businesses and civil society to address the world’s challenges and lay the foundations for sustainable growth in the future.

Public, private and civil sector leaders from more than 60 Forum communities discussed and advanced multistakeholder, innovative, inclusive ways to revive momentum on the 17 SDGs, including reducing poverty, increasing food security, addressing the climate and nature crises, accelerating the energy transition, promoting better health outcomes, harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) for better jobs and supporting the social economy.

“Adversity is the mother of all invention,” said Kenya’s President William Samoei Ruto at a session on improving food security for Africa, making the case for innovative investment in the continent that “not only expands food production capacity but also reduces the carbon footprint that comes with it”, as well as boosting GDP and creating jobs.

Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Ministry of International Cooperation of Egypt, emphasized the urgent need for “just financing” to support development and climate action at a session on building trust in a fragmenting world. She said: “Just financing" ensures “that countries are able to get not just quantities of finance but quality of finance, finance that creates sustainability.”

As the world faces one interconnected challenge after another, responding to crises is not enough, warned US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “We must build resilience to them,” she said. “This will reduce the need for future humanitarian assistance. It will support sustainable economic growth.”

Across more than 60 sessions and workshops, including 12 livestreamed on the website and social media, the Forum and its partners launched or advanced more than 25 initiatives focused on driving immediate and long-term progress, including progress on key initiatives such the First Movers Coalition, the EDISON Alliance and the Reskilling Revolution, ahead of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

“We must continue to find mechanisms to strengthen international corporation for a more sustainable world,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. "Multistakeholder coordination is essential to creating bridges across geographies and industries to overcome the current global challenges and accelerate the achievement of the SDG targets by 2030.”

On cooperation among competition

The meetings emphasized the importance of cooperation – especially among competitors – as essential to advancing the SDGs in a fragmented world. Many of the challenges facing the world “don’t travel with a passport”, said Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum. “We need to find solutions even if there is great competition between nations.”

Discussions showed how “coopetition” – rivals working together to achieve similar objectives – can ensure that everyone affected benefits while also leading to innovation, lower prices and improved public goods.


On human capital and innovation for inclusive growth

According to the Chief Economists Outlook, 60% of economists expect the global economy to weaken in the coming year. But emerging technology such as AI can help accelerate growth and solve global challenges, provided the risks are managed.

Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda, said she is “optimistic about the “ability to democratize access to opportunities” through technology.

Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC, argued that there is more work to be done by governments and companies. He made the case for ensuring individuals aren’t “disadvantaged from learning, from job opportunity and [their] own self-fulfilment and economic stability.”


  • Members of the Reskilling Revolution advanced their efforts towards providing 1 billion people with better education, skills and learning by 2030 through a specific focus on green, digital and people skills, through business commitments to reskilling more than 10 million people, a new Education Accelerator in Latvia and advancing collaboration with TeachAi, a global coalition to empower educators to teach with and about AI.
  • A new Forum white paper outlined the impact of large language models (LLMs) on jobs that may be automated, augmented, unaffected or wholly new.
  • Eight new companies employing over half million workers worldwide joined the Good Work Alliance, a coalition of businesses that are setting ambitious targets to build a more human-centric future of work. Honduras, Togo and Zambia joined EDISON's Lighthouse Countries Network for digital inclusion and the EDISON Alliance crossed the halfway mark in its aim to positively impact 1 billion lives through digital inclusion.
  • The Refugee Employment Alliance presented ways to help refugees integrate into local labour markets and called on members and guests of the alliance to expand refugee hiring commitments in a global drive towards UNHCR’s goal of supporting 1 million refugees by 2027.
  • Members of the Racial Justice in Business Alliance advanced efforts to use the Global Racial and Ethnic Equity Framework to leverage their communication activities to support racial and ethnic inclusion.
  • A multistakeholder group of leaders aligned on developing the Gender Parity Sprint to cut the time to parity from 131 years and develop acceleration pathways by 2030.

On climate action, nature protection and the energy transition

Participants shared insights and ideas to accelerate decarbonization, create a more sustainable ocean economy, protect and safeguard nature and enable the energy transition with more sustainable and circular value chains.

Business and government must come together to facilitate innovation, especially in hard-to-abate sectors like mining, said Benedikt Sobotka, Chief Executive Officer, Eurasian Resources Group Sàrl. “Innovation is going to make this industry so much more efficient and so much more capable in expanding and deploying capital in what are increasingly complicated, technically challenging jurisdictions and geographies,” he said. “It’s a big challenge, but it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity.”

“We have to stop thinking about these problems as impossible,” said Vanessa Kerry, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Seed Global Health. “We have to recognize the timelines are long but the urgency to make the right decisions is now. And then we have to realize there is absolutely no such thing as too ambitious for the moment we are in today.”


  • Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) launched a request for proposals to global philanthropy to incubate a new generation of public-private-philanthropic partnerships; Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan joined as the initiative’s first global co-chair.
  • The First Movers Coalition has reached 111 commitments across seven sectors to advance near-zero-emission products, amounting to $15 billion. The initiative announced two new efforts to advance net-zero goals: the UpLink Innovation Challenge for Aviation and the Near-Zero Steel Challenge.
  • Six companies pledged to conserve, restore and grow trees in six countries as part of, the Forum’s trillion trees initiative, which has pledges covering 8 billion trees by over 90 companies in over 65 countries.
  • Panama, Peru and Costa Rica joined the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to reduce plastic pollution and waste into concrete action, making a total of 13 countries in continents that have adopted the multistakeholder platform and data-based methodology.
  • Jose W. Fernandez, US Under-Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, announced a new partnership with the Platform for Accelerating for the Circular Economy (PACE) that will further its commitment to accelerating the circularity of critical minerals and supporting the global clean-energy transition.
  • The Forum launched a new global commission on nature-positive cities that brings together mayors, CEOs and international experts to pioneer ambitious, state-of-the-art urban interventions that benefit people, the planet and the economy.
  • A new Forum report showed how protecting and restoring nature in 12 sectors, including the built environment, chemicals, construction materials, fashion and apparel, and travel and tourism, could generate $10.1 trillion in business opportunity by 2030.
  • A voluntary carbon market could accelerate high-impact climate action, protect nature and drive the energy transition to net zero, according to a new Forum paper.
  • Climate action must also address public health, argues a new Forum report that evaluates climate change threats and their health impacts in China.
  • The Global Collaboration Village launched a new hub to visualize climate tipping points in the polar regions and the cascading risks they pose, enabling decision-makers to grasp the urgency of polar warming and come together to catalyse immediate collective action.
  • UpLink announced the winning solutions from recent nature-focused Innovation Challenges and launched the Trillion Trees Challenge on forest restoration. It also announces a three-year investment worth CHF 3.3 million to source and scale innovations that support a more productive, responsible and resilient shift in the metals and minerals mining industry.
  • Young innovators from the Global Shapers Community worked with executives and entrepreneurs to identify projects that address the negative impacts of climate change on health to be piloted, replicated and scaled in 40 participating cities and then shared with 500 city-based hubs in the community.

About the Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023

The Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023 took place on 18-22 September in New York. The meetings reflected on progress made on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and revived momentum for multistakeholder action. More than 1,000 business leaders, policy-makers, leaders from international and civil society organizations, innovators and social entrepreneurs came together in person to advance concrete progress on the SDGs.

Notes to editors
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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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