Today, the sustainable development agenda is about long-term strategic planning. Sustainable development is regarded as a competitiveness factor not only in international markets but within Russia as well. Within corporations, management of sustainable development is moving to the highest levels – boards of directors, top managers and steering committees. Today, relations with investors, partners and clients; marketing and public relations campaigns; production and sales chains; and reputational, ethical and business risks are being structured to take account of the global Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations has set for 2023.
Against the backdrop of global cataclysms and an economic downturn, the UN is expressing alarm: the pandemic is laying bare and exacerbating the problems of poverty, inequality, global health and welfare, economic growth, the environment, and climate while making the question of how to finance the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals ever more pressing. The global community is discussing effective ways to recover from the current crisis while prioritising sustainable development.
Because of this, a number of countries (including the EU and South Korea) have announced plans for a green economic recovery that envisions a radical restructuring of the national and trans-border economic system: support is to be provided to green industries, the development of renewable energy is to be emphasised, elements of circular economics are to be integrated into industrial processes, and new targets are to be set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new green deal in the EU also envisions the introduction of a trans-border carbon tax, which, analysts believe, is going to have significant consequences for Russian producers and exporters.
These topics are being extensively discussed in Russia's government and business circles. An analysis is being carried out on new approaches to state regulation of waste handling, carbon emissions, forest management as well as the use of the best available technologies. Pilot and experimental risk management models are being introduced into the realm of sustainable development. More attention is being paid to the role of civic and environmental activism.
In this relatively short time, businesses have significantly expanded their understanding of the sustainable development agenda and of ways to integrate specific sustainable development goals into their programmes. Today, the sustainable development agenda has become mainstream. As part of it, companies are expected to have new competencies and skills, come up with new management solutions and operate in a more transparent and public manner. Meanwhile, they are expected to carefully assess the impact of their business process, products, services and transformation in the interests of sustainable development goals, the general public, the planet and the new inclusive and fair economy.
Has Russian business made any progress in sustainable development? What are the main risks and prospects in the context of the global agenda and the COVID-19 challenges? These are some of the questions that international experts will be discussing at the 2nd National Sustainable Development Forum, a venue where socially responsible Russian businesses can share and discuss their professional opinions.
Representatives of executive and legislative authorities, international institutions, UN Global Compact, local networks of the UN Global Compact, UN initiatives and agencies, diplomatic missions; top management of large businesses (Russian and international corporations and companies), leading banks and investment institutions; leaders of business associations (unions), initiatives and companies working in the interests of sustainable development; representatives of public and non-governmental organisations and media; international experts.
10:00 am – 12:00 noon. Panel discussion. Global Challenges and National Priorities
Russia is strengthening its position in international sustainable development venues, demonstrating active engagement in global issues. A number of experts see a direct link between the Sustainable Development Goals and the state's priorities, national projects, signalling and innovations in the system of regulations. Businesses are at the forefront of international discussions on the efficacy of the efforts that governments and the private sector are making in the interests of the Sustainable Development Goals. What new risks and opportunities can businesses see for themselves as the pandemic is exacerbating global problems? What new factors have been affecting responsible business practices in Russia in 2020? Participants in the discussion are going to talk about Russia's position today in the context of the best corporate and national practices for sustainable development.
Topics for discussion
· Russia-2020 in the context of the global sustainable development agenda
· The national priorities in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
· Russia's first voluntary review of its sustainable development goals Assessment, discussions, prospects
· New risks and opportunities for business in sustainable development
· The practice of governments promoting sustainable development business strategies
· Corporate sustainable development practices in Russia and in the developed countries around the world
· The voice of civic society as a new factor in the transformation of businesses to meet Sustainable Development Goals
12:00 noon – 12:30 pm. Break
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm. Strategic session. The Relevant Environmental and Climate Change Agenda: Are We Set to Make Progress?
Sustainable development, which the UN first defined in 1972, envisions a change in what is to be managed and a review of the traditional business approach to the treatment of nature and natural resources, the air and water, the environment and biological diversity, which were now to be regarded not from the point of view of financial and economic criteria but first and foremost from the point of view of environmental and economic criteria. Today, the interpretation of the environmental and climate responsibilities of business in the context of Sustainable Development Goals does not imply a direct superficial link to specific elements of the agenda. Rather, it calls for a complete revamping of the mission of businesses in their systematic conduct, a reduction of the impact of production sites on the environment, a redistribution of investments to emphasise energy-efficient industries and green solutions, the inclusion of environmental factors with economic categories, a transition to a new pricing system that takes climate and environmental factors, risks and damages into account. To what degree do Russian businesses adopt and share this approach? There is evidence of the negative effects of climate change, and companies are participating in international programmes to support the Paris Agreement. There are attempts to implement elements of circular economics (including reforms of waste management), and new green business opportunities and industries are emerging. Responsible financing and investment practices are being adopted in Russia and into the ESG-reality of Russian companies. But does all this reflect a current course towards sustainable development?
Topics for discussion
· The global and Russian green agenda. What trends in the global environmental and climate change agenda are most relevant for Russia?
· The tools of international regulation in the realm of climate change and environmental protection. Risks and threats for Russian businesses
· Updating Russian environmental protection and climate change laws. Clear signals and hidden contradictions
· Corporate projects, initiatives and practices in greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to the consequences of climate change. Assessing the effectiveness and prospects
· Circular economics in Russia. The key obstacles and development incentives
· Life after oil. Is Russia's energy future being created today?
· Russian business and the community of ESG-investors and responsible players in the financial market. Examples of successful business cooperation
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Break
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Case session. The Role of Business in the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
17 Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved by 2030 to ensure the well-being of the population and the planet, and business is to play a key role in this global movement. In order to make the expected progress in addressing the global challenges and achieve a transformation of business for sustainable development, innovative solutions, management practices, experimentation and pilot projects are needed. This will expedite the successful achievement of specific sustainable development goals and the realisation of the overall sustainable development mission. The existing experience and data from the experts need to be systematised to identify risk factors at the project planning stage. During the case-session, the participants will present the best domestic and international practices for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, discuss the results achieved so far and the effectiveness of new solutions.
Topics for discussion
· The best domestic and international business practices for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
· The transformation of corporate social responsibility models in the context of sustainable development
· Cooperation with non-profit organisations How work is different during the pandemic
· How can we make our projects work for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals? Planning, implementation and impact assessment