September 5, 2019

Ahead of UNGA, The Private Sector Is Engaging on Solutions to Global Challenges

By Linda Dempsey, Vice President at National Association of Manufacturers

Each September in the city that never sleeps, global leaders gather at the United Nations (UN) headquarters for a busy (and sleepless) two weeks to discuss the world’s most pressing issues and set a global agenda for the following year. The conversations that take place in New York City at the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) will set the tone for many multilateral organizations, including United Nations-related groups like the World Health Organization, as they assess their upcoming activities. These institutions play an important role in tackling many challenges at an international scale, ranging from issues of global health, innovation, and the environment to advancing important initiatives such as the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) that matter for countries, citizens, and businesses alike.

As part of ongoing efforts to engage with these institutions, I’m headed to New York City this week to lead an international business delegation that includes top global businesses and associations from a variety of industries. During our time in New York, we will be meeting with UN staff and member state representatives from around the world to talk about public-private sector engagement and their missions’ leadership on international issues. We will also be engaging on issue priorities and ways to work with key stakeholders, including international organizations, national governments, and others, towards more sustainable and inclusive efforts to address global issues.

Though we will be discussing issues that pertain to multiple international organizations, a major milestone of interest is the 74th UNGA occurring during the latter half of September. A variety of high-level events will take place during this time, including the first-ever High-Level Meeting (HLM) on universal health coverage (UHC), an important event with direct business implications.

As countries work towards achieving UHC by 2030, their discussions and continued efforts will hinge on embracing innovative and inclusive solutions. Manufacturers in the United States support the common goal of effective, transparent, and evidence-based approaches to address critical health challenges and eliminate trade barriers, among others, to high-quality health products and services around the world. This year’s agenda provides an important opportunity for world leaders to include all stakeholders – international organizations, governments, civil society, and the private sector – in the effort to draw from the best insights and resources to develop a concrete path towards long-term public health goals.

Real, lasting progress towards these goals depends on an approach that is simultaneously broad, innovative, and inclusive. The private sector has been a longtime supporter of a fair, consistent, rules-based international system and effective international institutions, and has engaged in their missions. In all these efforts, the private sector is and must continue to be viewed as a key partner to achieve progress on the SDGs. As U.N. leadership, agencies and member states have long avowed, these efforts cannot be successful with companies and business groups as a key part of the solution, bringing critical resources and expertise useful to devising and implementing global initiatives. As we face increasingly complex global challenges, engagement and partnership between international organizations and the private sector are more, not less, important. Our New York City mission trip is a critical step in engaging those constructive voices that are looking for effective solutions, and the beginning of deeper conversations on the paths to do so.