As a member of the United Nations Global Compact United Arab Emirates (UAE) Network, CTG Global were proud to help stage the Annual Business for Peace event in Dubai this year.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lay out critical targets for the world to achieve by 2030 and 197 world leaders have pledged to support them. The goals include Gender Equality, Climate Action, Zero Hunger, No Poverty, to name a few. But it was SDG 16 that was at the forefront of the minds of those gathered at the event: promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies. And ‘Making Global Goals Local Business’ was the theme that brought together over 200 leaders from business, investment, civil society, governments, the UN and Global Compact Local Networks.
The aim of the day was to highlight the importance of the private sector in fostering action to achieve peace and stability. Key questions were raised such as how can businesses make peace a reality? How can companies align their strategies with SDG 16, and be a key driver to support its achievement? How can we harness the power of the private sector to help bring people out of poverty?
There was a diverse and interesting group of guests at the Business for Peace event, held at Jumeirah Mina A ‘Salam hotel, which aptly means ‘Harbour of Peace’. The dynamic host speaker was Zainab Salbi, author, women’s rights activist and humanitarian who has worked in war zones for more than 20 years.
The founder of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organisation dedicated to serving women survivors of wars rebuild their lives, she knows about taking aspiration to action: ‘We need to have uncomfortable conversations,’ she urged, as the stark reality of the global humanitarian crises were shared throughout the day. ‘It’s a dark time that we are living in. It is an urgent time, a time of imagination. And we are the people shaping the future’
Private sector companies shared their stories about business for peace in action. The point was made repeatedly: the current humanitarian crises require action from all actors in society.
In a section titled ‘Rising to the Challenge: Business in Action’ CTG Global’s CEO, Alice Laugher, spoke about a CTG Global project in a refugee camp in South Sudan, a country where 2 million people – mainly vulnerable women and children – are displaced.
The CTG team will help with the running of the camp, empowering IDPs (internally displaced people) through providing them with jobs within the camp such as looking after the washing facilities and helping build new shelters. Women refugees will be trained to teach basic personal hygiene to residents, and ante-natal and post-natal care will be provided for residents who often give birth in very public, unsafe places. Vaccinations will also be provided to help protect refugees from fast-spreading diseases such as cholera.
‘This is not just an academic exercise,’ said Alice. ‘It’s real. We’re employing local people and we’re working at a grass roots level, on the ground, with the international communities to make a difference.’
During breaks guests could walk around an exhibition of photographs taken by CTG Global consultants called ‘Aid in Action’. From food distribution in Pakistan, to women’s literacy programmes in Afghanistan, to supporting stability in Somalia, these powerful images shared moments from CTG’s projects on the ground in fragile countries. Many of the photographs were taken by talented photographer Iain Statham, who worked for CTG.
Another thought-provoking experience for guests: NRS International, a fellow member of the UN Global Compact UAE Network, erected one of their refugee tents and provided Virtual Reality glasses to experience the reality of life in a refugee camp.
There were plenty of inspiring moments. Some of our highlights from the event:
- Danish duo Majken Glimartin and Rikke Rønholt Albertsen, spoke about The Global Goals World Cup that hosts amateur women’s football tournaments around the world with the aim of encouraging support and engagement of the SDGs. ‘We play for fun, for glory and for the 17 UN Global Goals,’ they explained and showed off their eye-catching, stylish SDG football where each panel of the ball highlighting an SDG. CTG Global loved the concept andare hoping to co-host the Dubai tournament in 2017, along with other members of the UN Global Compact UAE Network.
- Members of the Global Compact Local Networks came from far and wide to share their local stories, including Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Turkey.
- Marcy Vigoda from OCHA shared how essential the private sector is in the response to disasters especially when considering the numbers. In 2016 there were 130-million people affected by crisis, inevitability there will be gaps in conflict response. Her message was clear: the power of the private sector is an essential involvement.
- Camilla Schippa, Director of the Institute for Economics and Peace, showed how you measure peace. She shared some startling numbers: that all of us are paying for violence, the equivalent of $5 per person is spent on violence and the havoc it wreaks every day. She also stressed that instead of measuring violence we should shift the focus from conflict to peace, ‘As the drivers of peace are poorly understood and not necessarily the opposite of the drivers of violence.’ (Here’s a great talk that Camilla gave in 2011 on how Peace is Everybody’s Business.)
- Massa Mufti-Hamwi, founder of NGO Sonbola, that provides children’s educational programmes in Lebanon, pointed out that ‘peace building in itself is a challenging business’. And who better to help navigate those challenges than experienced and successful business leaders?
- While Mariam Farag, head of Corporate Responsibility at the Middle East Broadcasting Centre, had an important reminder for us all: ‘Waking up as a refugee could happen to anyone, anywhere’.