Small and medium-sized enterprises are key to overall Global Compact strategy, deputy secretary-general says at Impact Forum

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Here is the text of the video message from United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed to the Global Impact Forum, hosted by the United Nations Global Compact, held today:

I am happy to welcome the second annual Global Impact Forum. The participants in this Forum – businesses, government, civil society and the United Nations – have an essential role to play in strengthening the ambition and action of companies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yesterday we heard about the new Global Compact Africa strategy, a bold approach to intensify the collective impact of African businesses. The Africa Strategy comes at a critical time. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement presents new opportunities through the liberalization of trade in goods and services, the promotion of the free movement of people and investments, with the potential to catalyze economic growth and development through the regional trade and value chains, as well as boosting gains in the manufacturing and service industries, where small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role.

But, worsening inequalities and environmental and economic vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic present profound challenges. The Strategy recognizes an evolving African landscape of entrepreneurship and innovation, and the central role of businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, in advancing the transitions that the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] and the appeal of the Paris Agreement.

Indeed, small and medium-sized enterprises are central to the entire United Nations Global Compact strategy for 2021 to 2023. They constitute a huge segment of the global economy, especially in developing countries. This is why the new strategy aims to improve the access of small and medium-sized enterprises to international investments, markets and supply chains.

To strengthen support for responsible and sustainable businesses of all sizes, the Strategy also focuses on strengthening local networks of the United Nations Global Compact. It also aims for balanced geographic growth by launching new local networks, particularly in the countries of the South.

In every region, we need new ideas and new talents to realize the vision of the United Nations Global Compact. Earlier in today’s forum, you heard from emerging business leaders from the Young SDG Innovators program. Their fresh perspectives and groundbreaking innovations are changing the face of sustainable businesses. I know that they will help us achieve great ambitions through effective actions. Let us move forward together in this energetic spirit, united for a better world. Thank you.

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