Business and Partners Commit to #WriteTheWrong During UN General Assembly

About the event

26 Sep 2018

The Global Business Coalition for Education’s annual breakfast event during the UN General Assembly highlighted the business community’s commitment to work with partners from foundations, governments and civil society to make significant progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4. Sarah Brown – Executive Chair of GBC-Education – stated, “we want to transform and refocus our energy and scale on impact [for education]”. Business leaders along with foundations, government ministers, and members of civil society had the opportunity to share their solutions to the education crisis and announce new and exciting results-driven projects and commitments to deliver quality learning to millions of children throughout the world.

David Boutcher – Partner at Reed Smith and Executive Board Member of GBC-Education – welcomed the attendees to the breakfast, highlighting GBC-Education’s efforts to “focus on results and find new models for partnerships to address the challenge we all care about: unleashing the potential of the next generation of young people through free, quality, and inclusive education.”

Launch of Youth Skills Report

The Youth Skills Report was officially launched. Since the establishment of the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative last September, GBC-Education worked with Deloitte to develop a comprehensive report that produces a series of recommendations for the business community to prepare today’s youth for the workforce of the future. To learn more about initiative, supported by Intel, and to read the report, follow the link here.


Omnicom and Theirworld launched the #WriteTheWrong campaign– a new worldwide movement through the UN Common Ground Initiative. #WriteTheWrong is a part of the commitment from the world’s leading marketing and communications firms to support the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4.

A short animated film has been launched to raise awareness of the fact that 1 in 5 children currently has no access to school. Businesses and organizations interested in receiving an edit of the film featuring your logo to share on your digital channels, with employees, at public events or on your company’s Intranet, please contact [email protected].

Thought Leadership

John Fallon – CEO of Pearson – spoke about the future of work and what role business will have to play in preparing today’s youth for the future workforce. “I’m an optimist,” he said. “At every stage of the industrial revolution, it has been easier to understand how technology will take our jobs.”

Audrey Azoulay – Director-General of UNESCO –highlighted the need for the public and private sectors to work together and find solutions to the skills gap, with a “strong emphasis on gender” and the initiative to include women in science and technology. Henrietta Fore – Executive Director of UNICEF – also emphasized the potential for public-private partnerships to transform the education space, pointing to UNICEF’s recently launched Generation Unlimited Initiative.

Tariq al Gurg – CEO of Dubai Cares –said that we should consider all potential solutions in ensuring that today’s youth are prepared for the workforce of tomorrow. “[We must] strengthen collaboration, take things to scale, and better leverage technology” in order to close the youth skills gap, Tariq said.

Youth-led Discussions

Gideon Olanrewaju – a Global Youth Ambassador with Theirworld –reminded attendees to consider the youth voice and perspective in any solution to the education crisis. The audience was prompted to discuss the following question:

“United in our belief that next-generation thinking and next-generation partnerships are required to achieve the 2030 global goals for education, what tangible actions, innovations, and new ways of working can create disruptive, systemic change and unlock the potential of young people in the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?”

Following the discussions, speakers touched on various subjects, with the main themes being: youth skills; education in emergencies; and education financing.

Youth Skills

The youth skills gap was a central part of the announcements made during the breakfast. David Barnes – Global Managing Director of Public Policy at Deloitte – expounded on his company’s work in ensuring that today’s generations have the skills necessary for a future workforce; part of his announcement focused on a new initiative in India dedicated to education for women and girls.

Daniella Foster from Hilton Worldwide and Tim Nourse from Making Cents International – both members of the Youth Skills and Innovation Commission – announced a collaboration between their organizations to empower entrepreneurs and make business more youth inclusive.

Another member of the Youth Skills and Innovation Commission – Yemi Babington-Ashaye – pledged that, based on the recommendations provided by the report, he would take action and create local meetings throughout the world to realize the goals of closing the youth skills gap by 2030. Matthew Rycroft from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) pointed out that his organization is on the front lines of helping refugees and ensuring they have the skills of the future.

We have equity issues. We have poor people whose education never gives them a real opportunity,” Shafqat Mahmood – Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training in Pakistan – said. “While we are all determined to help, skills development becomes a stepchild. We need to ensure skills.”

Education in Emergencies

The Danish government announced an additional $46 million to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and Yasmine Sherif – Director of ECW – highlighted her fund’s work to support refugees in Uganda, emphasizing that “when you make a commitment, the universe conspires to assist you”. GBC-Education has been an active partner with ECW through its REACT initiative, connecting businesses with on-the-ground actors in emergency situations.

Graham Peters of Avanti Communications, underscored business’s commitment to education in emergencies and showcased how his company used GBC-Education’s REACT initiative to establish a partnership with Social Innovation Academy in Uganda to provide free internet connectivity for children caught in crisis. HP was represented by Nate Hurst – Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer–announced a new partnership with UNICEF, the Clooney Foundation, and Google in setting up second shift schools in Lebanon.

Microsoft’s work to use technology and partnerships to help refugee children access education was highlighted by Mary Snapp – Corporate Vice President and Lead for Microsoft Philanthropies. “Our hope is to drive [artificial intelligence, cloud] technology forward and democratize it as much as we can so we can leave no one behind,” she said.

The high point of the breakfast occurred when two Palestinian refugee children – speaking for UNRWA – pushed the attendees in the audience to support marginalized youth and provide quality education everywhere. “We have hopes and dreams just like all other children in the world,” the students said. “Education is our right. We want to contribute to the world and be respected for our skills. Please help us.”

Link to UNRWA students video:

Education Financing

Education financing and investment was a priority for many of the speakers throughout the room. Hiro Mizuno – Chief Investment Officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund – commented on his fund’s work on investing in education and said that he wants to make education a priority for his investment fund moving forward. In addition to a $46 million commitment to ECW, Minister Ulla Tornaes announced a $140 million contribution to the Global Partnership for Education.

The breakfast was closed by Kristalina Georgieva – CEO of the World Bank – who showed support for the newly established International Finance Facility for Education. “Last year, I closed the breakfast by singing “We will, we will rock you”. This year, I have a different song – this is how we do it!”

GBC-Education couldn’t agree more: mobilizing innovative partnerships with next generation actionists is how we unleash the potential of the next generation.

To learn more about the Global Business Coalition for Education, follow the link here or contact us at [email protected].