Sustainable development requires active participation from the business community.
The UN Global Compact provides a framework for business. Participants are required to align their strategies and operations with the ten universally recognized principles of human rights, environment and anti-corruption. They also have to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN goals.
Recent meetings between leaders from the Uzbek business sector and UN representatives were held to discuss how they can help promote UN goals at the flagship conference “Championing Business Sustainability”.
This forum was started and supported by the first UNGC members in the country: Artel Electronics, a home appliance manufacturer, and Korzinka, a supermarket chain, and Silverleafe LLC, a cotton company.
The forum was attended by representatives of over 70 companies. It was Uzbekistan’s first event devoted to incorporating ESG practices into business operations.
Companies that sign up to the UN Global Compact agree to promote the ten principles. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Companies can embed these principles in their strategies, policies, procedures and create a culture that is integrity. This not only helps them uphold their basic responsibilities to the planet and people, but also sets the foundation for long-term success.
Companies around the globe are under increasing pressure from employees, customers and investors to do business. This conference heard that the recent pandemic in the global economy has further highlighted this trend.
It was also stated that Uzbekistan’s business community is expected to start contributing to “development of a more sustainable, just and fair world.” ”
Roli Asthana (UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan), spoke out in a keynote address. She stressed the “crucial” role of the private sector in reaching national and international sustainable development goals.
She stated that Uzbekistan had been making progress towards a more sustainable future in recent years. It is evident by the government’s actions and it is highly commendable. However, I also want to emphasize that sustainable development is not possible only through government cooperation. The private sector is an integral part inclusive and sustainable growth. The UN Secretary-General once stated that “there is no global goal for which the private sector is not needed.”
Sanda Ojiambo was also present as UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director for the UN Global Compact. There were also representatives from international organizations and the UN Global Compact offices located in Turkey, Georgia and Switzerland.
Bektemir Murodov, Chief Financial Officer at Artel Electronics and a leader in Central Asia’s production of electronics and household appliances, provided further comment. The company employs more than 10,000 people.
Murodov said that he was proud to support the Uzbek discussion on sustainable development alongside Silverleafe and Korzinka. We are only at the beginning. We are still working daily with partners to improve our ESG status and make meaningful changes for Uzbekistan’s sustainable future.
Zafar Khashimov (Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at “Korzinka”) highlighted the importance to adopt a long-term and sustainable approach to decision-making. He said, “We started our business activity in Uzbekistan by establishing modern, organized supermarket chains. Transitioning from short-term goals to long-term sustainable goals presents a lot for companies. But overall, it proved to be more profitable and economically efficient to use long-term strategies.”
Rusyan Jill Maamiit, Development Cooperation Officer, Partnerships and Development Finance at the United Nations Office in Uzbekistan said that the conference heard businesses through the voices Artel, Korzinka and Silverleafe and reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable growth.
“We heard also from the United Nations that they are willing to work side by side with the private sector in order to accelerate sustainability principles. Although today’s event is over, many of us are just beginning a journey that will require patience, dedication, and perseverance as sustainability investment returns take time. We must all maintain our tenacity and patience, as well as our dedication.
Uzbekistan joined UN on March 2, 1992. The UN Office in Tashkent was opened the next year. The UN Country Team in Uzbekistan (UNCT), currently includes 25 UN Agencies and Funds, as well as Programmes.
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