AUSTRALIAN businesses are being called upon to extend their core business into developing countries in a bid to eradicate poverty and meet the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the Business for Millennium Development Summit in Melbourne on Friday October 24 2008.
With Australia’s economic future tied to the emerging economies of the Asia Pacific region, Business for Millennium Development (B4MD) is encouraging Australian companies to broaden their core business in our neighbouring developing countries to strengthen their infrastructure, resources, skills and economies.
The Millennium Development Goals were developed by the United Nations (UN) in 2001 to provide a framework for the elimination of the major issues facing those living in extreme poverty, with targets set for each goal to be reached by 2015.
Global forecasts predict that extreme poverty can be ended by 2030 if the MDG targets are reached, however, the world is currently well behind the required effort to reach the MDGs, with just seven years left to the deadline.
The MDGs are the most broadly supported, comprehensive, and specific poverty reduction targets the world has ever established.
The Business for Millennium Development Summit 2008 will bring together business leaders to consider opportunities they can apply their core business skills in commercially viable forms to alleviate poverty in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
Keynote speakers at the event include James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank; Jeffery Sachs, special advisor to the UN; Damien Green, head of Morgan Stanley Investment Management; Glen Boreham, MD, IBM Australia and New Zealand; Geoff Wilson, CEO, KPMG and Alex Thursby, group MD Asia Pacific, ANZ Banking Group, among others.
Businesses attending the Summit will discuss ways in which they can adapt their businesses to new, developing markets, seek advice on creating new opportunities by aligning themselves with the MDGs and learn from companies which have already begun business with the poor in developing nations.
Two-thirds of the world’s poor reside in the Asia Pacific, in countries like India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Samoa. Over half of Australia’s merchandise trade is now with these developing countries.
B4MD was established in 2007 to encourage awareness amongst Australian businesses of the MDGs and to align their businesses to support achieving these goals. Simon McKeon, chairman of B4MD, said achieving the MDG targets was more than corporate philanthropy.
“The private sector can do business with those at the base of the economic pyramid by employing them, supplying innovative products and services, or purchasing goods from them. The MDGs envisage new commercial opportunities that will allow the poor to sustain themselves,” Mr McKeon said.
“By looking seriously at this space, Australian businesses can realise new products and marketplace opportunities that deliver increased profits, enhance their global corporate reputation, improve supply chain and investor attractiveness and heighten business innovation.”
According to the International Business Leadership Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, without the contribution of the business community, it is unlikely the MDGs will be achieved by 2015.
Australian companies including ANZ, BHP Billiton, Oil Search and Macquarie Group have already established business operations with positive implications for the poor in the developing world and particularly in the Asia Pacific region.
The MDGs are also endorsed by the Federal Government. The Australian Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, will attend the United Nations Millennium Development Summit in New York on 25 September.
The eight MDGs include:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
To register for the Business for Millennium Development Summit 2008, visit www.b4md.com.au/registration.asp Registrations close October 10, 2008