The Asia-Pacific Business Forum 2018 aims to identify how business engagement in achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region can be strengthened. Specifically, the Forum will discuss how private sector-led innovation, technology and financing can enhance efforts towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The transformative power of technology and innovation can support concrete actions towards realizing the aspirations of the SDGs. The private sector is at the core of developing affordable technology and innovation. With its cross-cutting, multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches, technology and innovation are powerful means of implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
Improving access to financing is one area where technology and innovation can make a significant contribution through the development of alternative business models and utilizing the power of the Internet. The Asia-Pacific region has a high-level of unbanked people, with many of them women. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for most of all enterprises, yet receive a low level of total bank lending. Financial inclusion is crucial to advance the 2030 Agenda forward. Technology and innovation, coupled with financing services could offer leapfrog solutions for both business and people in need. For example, micro-finance and social investment establishments that offer basic financial services and FinTech companies that are leveraging information technology to enhance access to finance to those that currently rely on informal markets would contribute to more business, employment, income generation and, hence, less poverty.
The Asia-Pacific Business Forum 2018, jointly organised by ESCAP and the Cyberport, with the support from the Innovation and Technology Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and in cooperation with the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN), will be held on 10 and 11 April 2018 in Hong Kong, China which is at the cutting edge of developing digital solutions and alternative business models for sustainable development. The Forum will witness the participation of multi-stakeholders, in particular governments, business, civil society and academics from all over the region to foster dialogue and identify innovative solutions to address the challenges and utilize the opportunities for business in realizing and achieving the SDGs.