Our busy UN Week

For many people, September marks the end of vacation—back to school or work. For New Yorkers, it’s also the time for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), a whirlwind week of a meetings, summits, and receptions attended by leaders from almost every country in the world. This year it was also an opportunity for our colleagues to share McKinsey’s latest research on topics ranging from the future of work and gender parity to the changing face of philanthropy. Here are some highlights from the week:

San Francisco-based senior partner James Manyika, who is also chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), moderated Innovation Lab, a panel discussion on the role of innovation in helping countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals. James opened the discussion with a question: “How can governments and innovators build trust and come together to solve our most pressing problems?”

The panel focused on how government and business can create hubs of innovation, such as Silicon Valley, on a wider scale; develop networks for sharing ideas, talent and resources; and source ideas from the ground up. The panel included H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, Reid Hoffman, Founder and Chair of LinkedIn, Marc Benioff, CEO and Founder of Salesforce, among others.

The discussion also included members of the audience, comprised of heads of state, CEOs of leading tech firms and startups, activists and visionaries.

One startup executive offered help in measuring progress toward the various SDGs by sharing its growing mass of satellite images, which could be used to track agriculture, reservoirs, and deforestation. A tech executive pointed out that for all the focus on advanced technologies, millions still lack basic Internet connectivity. A government leader emphasized the need to update taxation in a digital world in which people can work in three countries in a single day.

Elsewhere this week:

Philanthropy - McKinsey serves as the knowledge partner for the annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, which used the occasion of their centenary to focus on the theme of “Soutions for the next 100 years.” Four McKinsey colleagues led discussions: Kweilin Ellingrud, partner, on imagining “A World Where Girls Have The Same Opportunity As Boys”; Arnie Ghatak, senior partner and Tracy Nowski, associate partner, on how to create your own philanthropy; and Manisha Gulati, a partner, on financial vehicles for philanthropy.

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Manisha Gulati, a McKinsey partner, leads a discussion about the benefits of different financial vehicles at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.
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Business and society - This year McKinsey collaborated with the Concordia Summit, a nonpartisan forum taking place alongside the U.N. General Assembly which convenes more than 2,000 top influencers and decision makers to build partnerships for social impact. Susan Lund, an MGI partner, co-chaired a dialogue on “Disruptive technologies: The future of the workforce” and hosted a dinner discussion, convening policy makers, business leaders, and heads of philanthropy and tech.Andres Cadena, a partner based in Colombia, chaired a roundtable focused on the reconciliation efforts in Colombia following the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); and Tracy Nowski and Mekala Krishnan, an MGI fellow, convened a roundtable on “Partnerships for Gender Parity.”

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Kristin Sharp (L), director of Initiative on Work, Workers, and Technology, New America, and Susan Lund (R), a partner at McKinsey, speak at the Concordia Annual Summit.
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Africa - Each year during UN week, Africa Investor convenes pension and sovereign wealth fund leaders to discuss the finance sector. Senior partner Acha Leke presented the findings of the MGI’s recent report Lions on the Move II.

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