From Policy to Practice: Realising the Sustainable Development Goals and World Humanitarian Summit Agenda

By Nicole Malick, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at NRS International

NRS International proudly participated in various sessions at this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, alongside government representatives from 193 member states, civil society and the private sector. The 2016 assembly took as its theme, ‘The Sustainable Development Goals:  A Universal Push to Transform Our World,’ and reflected on the urgency required in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

UN General Assembly in New York

World Humanitarian Summit in action

Earlier this year, we were proud to participate in the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), hosted by the UN. This aimed to generate a global conversation on the current humanitarian crisis and lay down a solid platform for action, and was attended by 9,000 heads of state, delegates from non-profit organisations and foundations, and the private sector,. Following the Summit, the UN announced a road map to promote accountability and to report progress via anonline forum, titled ‘Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformation (PACT).’ This will help monitor more than 3,000  commitments to action.

NRS International commitments

14355150_1263781186996398_1480845466836948835_nNRS International has made seven commitments towards WHS which align with our company ethos, ’Combining strengths, improving lives.’ We believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on global humanitarian crises. Together with our charitable arm, Bilqees Sarwar Foundation (BSF), we made the following commitments:

  1. To provide capacity building and mentoring support through workshops at our Pakistan-based manufacturing facility, H. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din & Sons (HSNDS), and projects supported by BSF.
  2. To dedicate 25% of our charitable activities and projects (in humanitarian and crisis settings) to improving the lives of womenand girlsby 2020. This will increase to 30% by 2030.
  3. To partner with local and national women’s groups to provide them with capacity building and mentoring opportunities in Dubai.
  4. To support and invest in national and local response systems, avoiding duplicate international mechanisms.
  5. To apply lessons learned, best practice and evidence-based innovation to our products and supply-chain processes, through the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation.
  6. To take a more systematic and integrated approach to risk management by further improving our supply chain. This will  facilitate improved strategies for response and recovery.
  7. To support local and national disaster relief networks by becoming a participant of the Connecting Business Initiative. We will facilitate their coordinated engagements in risk and crisis management.

Global Business Coalition in Education

The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) brings the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth. With an increased attention on education in emergencies, GBC-Education plays a key role in convening voices from all sectors eager to contribute to the achievement of its mission. NRS International proudly joined the coalition in late 2015 and weremain the only core relief supplier member. At UNGA, GBC-Education held a series of meetings focused on the importance of action of SDG Goal  4, which is to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’

UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, noted that by 2030, if without adequate invention, 800 million of the 1.6 billion children of the world will leave their education without sufficient qualifications. During their September event, we also participated in the release of ‘The Learning Generation:  Investing in Education for a Changing World.’ The report has four main pillars for the private sector to engage, including:

  1. strengthening the performance of education systems by setting national standards, assessing learning, monitoring progress, and investing in proven best practices;
  2. developing innovative and creative approaches in education systems to achieving results;
  3. ensuring that every child, especially the most disadvantaged and marginalised, receive quality education; and
  4. increasing and improving financing for education from the international community, including governments, financial institutions, investors, and philanthropists.

Further commitments to quality education

We signed up to the Rapid Education Action (REACT) Database through the GBC-Education platform to ensure that our contributions and assets can be deployed for education in emergencies and conflicts. The initiative launched at WHS supported by 30 companies from around the world, including startups and global giants, committed to ensuring that the 75 million children disrupted by crises and emergencies  have access to quality education.

Another way we are working towards SDG Goal 4  is through BSF, which recently acquired a public school in Lahore, Pakistan.The country continues to struggle to increase school enrolment and approximately 140 million children are out of school and deprived of quality education. Only 87% of Pakistani students complete primary education, with many parents opting out of formal education for the children due to the perception of poor quality schools. BSF will construct additional classrooms to accommodate students from grades 1 to 10 , and will provide qualified teachers. The renovated school will be renamed  the ‘Bilqees Sarwar Foundation High School’.

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