Reflections on the Global Opening of the SDIS2020 — Day One:

Majid Al Futtaim
3 min readSep 21, 2020


Author: Alain Bejjani — CEO, Majid Al Futtaim — Holding

More than 3,000 participants from 130 nations around the world are tuning in to the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit to find the answer to one question: How do we bring our world — including our communities, our nations and regions — back on track to sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth?

The Summit’s Global Opening session suggests the answer is multi-faceted, crucially important and well within our reach.

Here are some moments that stood out to me from today’s opening session:

- Professor Klaus Schwab set the tone with his focus on shared prosperity and the importance of catalysing cooperation at every level, integrating technology, and implementing the stakeholder concept within business and industry. We know the value of this first-hand, not least through our work alongside our mall tenants to help them reduce resource consumption. Even with the best aspirations, it is not something we can do alone — only in partnership with our tenants.

- HH King Abdullah of Jordan rightly said that the pandemic and its consequences have exacerbated long-standing issues and that we can turn this into an unprecedented opportunity. COVID has certainly opened our eyes to the fragility of the world we are operating in. Supply chains are a small but key example: They were built to be efficient, irrespective of the local cost; but businesses can and should change this. We can no longer afford — in any way — to do business as usual.

- As many of the civil society panelists attested to, the interconnection of social wellbeing and environmental sustainability has never been clearer. Everyone can contribute to this locally to begin with, through civil society, via contributions or policy-making, or by voting with their money. Vote for businesses that align with your values with your money and support. Businesses can and should be accountable for everyone in their supply chain, and those who walk the talk and put their money where their mouth is should be encouraged in order to spark industry-wide change.

-I am curious to learn more about Colombia President Ivan Duque’s mention of biodivercities, how cities can actively contribute to global diversity, and to learn more about how the MENA region can reflect this. His commitment to protecting the nation economically and socially while still retaining their green agenda is notable.

There is much to be sobered by in these days, but there is also a great deal to be optimistic about. We stand on the cusp of a great opportunity to realign how we — as businesses, individuals, societies and nations — work, how we champion people and put them at the heart of progress.

Stay tuned for more notes and updates from the #SDIS20, particularly notes from the Better Business track where we will consider how businesses big and small can transform themselves into sustainable and inclusive organisations, and why it’s imperative for them to do so.



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