Businesses are well-positioned to offer innovative solutions to key sustainable development challenges, particularly in meeting the infrastructure and connectivity needs of rural and urban communities, concluded the annual Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Friday.
Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Papua New Guinea Investment and Promotion Authority, with the support of the Business Council of Papua New Guinea, the Forum showcased bold, innovative and truly sustainable business solutions in sectors such as infrastructure, green financing, financial inclusion, climate and disaster resilience, as well as trade and investment.
The two-day APBF focused on the theme of “Global Goals, Local Opportunities”. Senior policymakers, business leaders and emerging entrepreneurs discussed the roles and responsibilities of businesses to work with the public sector to mitigate the impacts of climate change and support the development of non-urban Pacific communities.
“Connectivity is especially relevant in the Pacific context, where the challenges associated with geographic isolation and remoteness have hindered trade and investment among Pacific island countries and with major international markets. Enhancing connectivity in this subregion demands increased investments in transport networks and ICT infrastructure,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks.
Ms. Alisjahbana called upon public-private sector partnerships to support SME growth and women’s entrepreneurship in the region. “Unlocking the potential of women-owned business represents a powerful opportunity for greater economic growth and leadership in our economies. A stronger Asia and the Pacific demands novel strategies to overcome entrenched barriers to women owned and led businesses and entrepreneurships.”
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Honorable James Marape said “Our priority is to empower our local business women and men. We have set a goal of growing our local SME spaces so that 10-20% our citizens are anchored in the SME sectors. Aligned with the focus of the APBF, our key priority sectors for SME growth are agriculture, tourism and marine resources. We are keen to work with foreign investors to sustainably develop these industries and our SMEs in them.”
“To implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is not a simple task. One condition for success is to engage the private sector well. For businesses to work towards the SDGs, we need platforms such as the Asia-Pacific Business Forum to bring together world business leaders.” said George Lam, the President of the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN).
“Vanuatu is leading the way in promoting business resilience to climate change. Resources exist in the country and we need to start using them more. That’s why Vanuatu set up a business resilience committee to assist businesses get together to find their own solutions without depending on external parties that may not understand the local business environment.” said Shaun Gilchrist, President Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce, CEO Azure Water. He added “innovation, product diversification and daring to dream at the regional level will help us address shared regional challenges”.