Lise Kingo is the CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact
Lise Kingo is the CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. The UN Global Compact has more than 13,500 signatories from over 160 countries that have committed to aligning strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and taking actions that advance societal goals.
Prior to joining the UN Global Compact in 2015, Ms. Kingo was Chief of Staff, Executive Vice President and member of the Executive Management team at Novo Nordisk A/S since 2002. She was in charge of several business areas and pioneered the first Novo Nordisk strategy on sustainability, spearheading the integration of sustainability into the heart of the business, showcasing the mutual benefits for both the company and society. Before 2002, Ms. Kingo held various positions at NovoZymes A/S and Novo A/S.
Ms. Kingo is a United Nations Gender Champion and has received several awards, including the Edinburgh Medal and the Copenhagen Business School 2018 Honorary Alumni Award. She holds a Master of Science degree in Responsibility and Business Practice from the University of Bath, United Kingdom, a Bachelor of Arts in Religions and Ancient Greek Culture from the Universities of Aarhus and Odense, Denmark as well as a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Economics from the Copenhagen Business School.
What brought you to Davos 2019?
Three years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is clear that the actions we are taking are not transformational enough, nor at the scale and pace needed to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In some critical areas, we are actually moving backwards.
It has been estimated that approximately US$ 5 to 7 trillion will need to be mobilized each year to achieve the Global Goals by 2030. This leaves us with a financing gap of between $2.5 and 3 trillion annually, and for each year we fail to close the gap, the price tag grows.
Financing the Global Goals is a big challenge, but not an insurmountable one. By aligning just three per cent of the world’s economic output with the SDGs would cover the estimated shortfall. And if we could activate just one per cent of available wealth assets behind the SDGs, we would be able to close the gap.
Therefore, I was in Davos to encourage the private sector to make their critical contribution towards the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable business is good business — report after report provides irrefutable evidence that companies delivering total value for people, planet and profit significantly outperform their competitors and deliver higher margins.
Defining leadership moment at Davos:
On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the UN Global Compact issued a broad call to action asking all stakeholders to contribute to financing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We urged business, Governments and other actors to work with financial intermediaries to raise the financing needed to make the Global Goals a reality by 2030. We also asked them to find new ways to measure and communicate on sustainability progress while showcasing long-term business benefits to investors.
As part of the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Financial Innovation for the SDGs, we have identified three ways for corporates to contribute to financing the Global Goals. We encourage them to explore SDG Bonds when raising debt, apply an SDG-lens to corporate pension fund investments, and allocate capital towards positive social and environmental impacts through Foreign Direct Investment.
Our goal is to create a market that is sufficiently large, liquid, diversified and transparent for institutional investors to meaningfully contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Enabled by the new financial products and services, investors everywhere now have the opportunity to enhance their financial performance, all the while investing in the Global Goals for the benefit of people and the planet.
Personal motivation to advocate for women and girls:
Studies show that the gender gap is now widening for the first time in over a decade. Globally, women continue to be paid approximately 20 per cent less than men, and the percentage of women in leadership and senior roles is declining. Sexism is an every-day reality in workplaces around the world, and within too many organizations, women’s leadership continues to be perceived as a risk, rather than an opportunity.
Women’s empowerment is a multiplier and key to achieving a range of targets across the Global Goals. For example, ending poverty requires that men and women have equal rights to economic resources, including property, technology and financial services. We simply can’t expect to achieve the Global Goals if we leave half the population behind.
To create the type of inclusive culture needed to move the dial, we need men and women leaders to champion inclusion and to sponsor the next generation of women leaders. Gender equality must be understood and prioritized like the economic and business imperative that it is. Financially, it makes total sense, and business has the tools to understand where they need to go and how to get there.
Where can people learn more about your key projects?
I invite you all to learn more about the UN Global Compact and how your organization can do its part in creating the world we all want by visiting our website, subscribing to our monthly Bulletin and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn and Twitter and keep up-to-date with our key projects here.
We can’t afford to take two steps back for every step forward. Gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. As we push for progress, there will be people who push back, shy away or fail to see the value of our action to advance equality. But we must keep moving forward