How can Business and the UN Work Together Towards the Sustainable Development Goals?


(Giovanni Di Placido) #41

it’s not easy to remember 169 targets and 17 goals but the Millennium Development Goals were much focused on reducing poverty, whereas the SDGs go way beyond that, covering much broader issues related to sustainable growth and prosperity. The SDGs have been formulated by the United Nations together with the widest possible range of stakeholders. The role of the public sector is fundamental and pivotal, while the private sector contribution is indispensable. The latter can take two main forms, good governance in business practices and investment in sustainable development. Policy coherence is essential in promoting the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs. One issue clear in this entire ambitious agenda is that they will require changes not only in public policy but also in private decisions.

The private sector is essential driver for sustainable development. First of all, they have the resources to push growth, especially in developing countries, by providing employment, technology and innovation, as well as around 70% of GDP, 75% of capital flows and 90% of jobs in developing countries. Private sector can leverage these capabilities and make a relevant change towards greater sustainability.

The private sector should see their day to day decisions to generate potential changes that help the SDGs, because the ability of businesses to grow depends on the natural, social and regulatory environment around them, which are likely to be affected by the SDGs, so businesses will be expected to follow those rules and should consequently align their activities with them. The private sector must make a mapping of its operations with the SDGs goals and see that changes can be made to align more. On the other hand, UN must engage in a better way with the private sector that it did in the past.

To improve the scope and deeper partnership between private sector and the United Nation to work together towards the sustainable development goals, could be interesting implement a UN approval, that say which company is SDG friendly. This could be a way to engage private sector companies, with a recognition mark of SDG friendly and create those standards with the private sector and Governments, at the same time labelling to the private sector could be an effective way to help to recover a part of any additional costs than SGD friendly private sector needs to support.


(Graham Baxter) #42

Hi everyone. I was a co-author on the report "Business and the UN" with Jane, Zahid and Alyssa. We identified a number of "shared imperatives" for business and the development community to work closely together in achieving the SDGs. But the reality is that, as already said, most companies don't "get it". The UN has an important role to play in brining more businesses to the table and I think it can do this effectively via the UN's business organisation, the Global Compact and its extensive networks around the world. What links are there now between the SDG-F and the UNGC?


(Paloma Duran) #43

Thank you Bianca from the SDG-Fund, we are already starting to work with the private sector and committed companies in the implementation of the SDGs. This Report prepared by the SDGFund with Business Fights Poverty and Harvard Kennedy School is a good example of the commitment of the SDG-Fund.

Bianca Shead said:

At a general level, there isn't necessarily a need to start something new - the UN could be very effective in helping to strengthen existing initiatives: the UN's key strengths lie in its convening power and influence. There are a lot of platforms and organisations where this convening power and influence could be used to accelerate progress and help profile those organisations which are already doing good work.

What do others think?


(Jane Nelson) #44

I think you are probably correct about this Mike. Certainly the issue-specific platforms such as Energy for All; Energy Women Every Child; Scaling Up Nutrition have great potential - especially with the growing focus on country-led action. At the same time, I think initiatives such as the SDG Fund can be immensely valuable in providing specific match-making support or seed resources and advice in getting on-the-ground initiatives going.

Mike Wisheart said:

Hi All,

its my hypothesis that the value of the UN exercising its conveing power to broker partnerships and collaborations between others (biz, CSOs, govts) could far exceed the potential value generated by developing direct UN-Business engagements. What do you think?

Mike


(Aarti Mohan) #45

We need empowerment at the last mile! Equitable value chains that men and women can be a part of, and are sustainable, to bring their produce to the market and in turn, to bring them life-quality improving products and essential services, from sanitation to finance.

And business, with its expertise and resources and an opportunity to bring solutions to BOP markets, can play a huge role in supporting this.

Here is Sattva's publishing on the subject in the French paper FACTS: https://factsreports.revues.org/3711


(Paloma Duran) #46

Hi Graham. We are working closely with UN Global Compact. Global Compact is working more in the side of advocacy and networking building while the SDG-Fund is working on the implementation of the SDGs. That is the reason why we are doing a complementary work and now trying to find synergies for future partnership to delivery the SDGs on the ground.

Graham Baxter said:

Hi everyone. I was a co-author on the report "Business and the UN" with Jane, Zahid and Alyssa. We identified a number of "shared imperatives" for business and the development community to work closely together in achieving the SDGs. But the reality is that, as already said, most companies don't "get it". The UN has an important role to play in brining more businesses to the table and I think it can do this effectively via the UN's business organisation, the Global Compact and its extensive networks around the world. What links are there now between the SDG-F and the UNGC?


(Jane Nelson) #47

Absolutely - it's a valuable guide. The KPMG Industry Matrices for the SDGs are another good model you should look at - they've done them for the financial services and food and beverage sector so far.

Jeff Geipel said:

Has anyone seen the World Economic Forum's paper on mining's contribution to the SDGs? They worked with Columbia University and the UNDP on it, and I think it goes into great detail about how practically companies impact the SDGs. Of course it's quite long and needs to be translated into shorter business-friendly pieces, but it could be a model for all sectors: http://ccsi.columbia.edu/work/projects/mining-and-the-sustainable-d...


(Mike Wisheart) #48

can I take the silence to mean you all agree?? :)

Mike Wisheart said:

Hi All,

its my hypothesis that the value of the UN exercising its conveing power to broker partnerships and collaborations between others (biz, CSOs, govts) could far exceed the potential value generated by developing direct UN-Business engagements. What do you think?

Mike


(Jeff Geipel) #49

For me I think the most important thing for question 2, is that companies need to see how to leverage their core business to contribute to the SDGs - not contribute to them via charity, community investment, etc.

For example, we always use the example of a mine which spends $212 million a year in country (though much of that is imported). The community investment is under $1 million - so you get a sense of how impotent that community investment spend is compared to the core business of the mine.

The other thing is we need real measurement of private sector impacts that go beyond just income created, jobs, etc - What types of jobs? What skills upgrading occurs when a company buys locally, or trains staff? We did a piece on this recently for Devex: https://www.devex.com/news/to-harness-the-private-sector-to-achieve... (sorry for the shameless plug)


(Paloma Duran) #50

You are completely right Jane. Looking forward. As you know, the SDG-Fund works currently with 14 UN Agencies in our Joint Programmes, and various partners. The added value of the Fund is our inter-agency approach, which is valuable for all the private sector companies ready to work with the UN system for the implementation of the SDGs in the field.



Jane Nelson said:

I think you are probably correct about this Mike. Certainly the issue-specific platforms such as Energy for All; Energy Women Every Child; Scaling Up Nutrition have great potential - especially with the growing focus on country-led action. At the same time, I think initiatives such as the SDG Fund can be immensely valuable in providing specific match-making support or seed resources and advice in getting on-the-ground initiatives going.

Mike Wisheart said:

Hi All,

its my hypothesis that the value of the UN exercising its conveing power to broker partnerships and collaborations between others (biz, CSOs, govts) could far exceed the potential value generated by developing direct UN-Business engagements. What do you think?

Mike


(Jeff Geipel) #51

Thanks, I'll check them out!

Jane Nelson said:

Absolutely - it's a valuable guide. The KPMG Industry Matrices for the SDGs are another good model you should look at - they've done them for the financial services and food and beverage sector so far.

Jeff Geipel said:

Has anyone seen the World Economic Forum's paper on mining's contribution to the SDGs? They worked with Columbia University and the UNDP on it, and I think it goes into great detail about how practically companies impact the SDGs. Of course it's quite long and needs to be translated into shorter business-friendly pieces, but it could be a model for all sectors: http://ccsi.columbia.edu/work/projects/mining-and-the-sustainable-d...


(Jane Nelson) #52

To be effective and transformative in supporting the SDGs, business must play to its strengths. Its partners in the UN and elsewhere must understand and respect what these strengths are. This means focusing efforts on the activities and capabilities of the core business. As a basis, companies should operate responsibly – ensuring respect for human rights, and implementing strong ethical, environmental, social and governance standards everywhere they operate through effective policies, management systems, monitoring and reporting, and where needed grievance mechanisms. Beyond this, companies can make a substantial contribution to creating shared value for their business and their stakeholders by harnessing core business models, capabilities, technologies, products and services, and unleashing a new wave of innovation and creativity. It also means becoming more strategic in how philanthropic capital is deployed, aligning more closely to core business and leveraging competencies and assets beyond cash. Most important of these competencies are the technical, scientific, managerial, financial and professional skills of a company’s employees and donations of relevant research assets, products and services to relevant development partners. One interesting trend is the emergence of innovative hybrid models or blended finance models that combine either business and philanthropic resources and objectives and/or public and private resources and objectives

Another interesting trend is the growth in multi-stakeholder platforms that bring together a larger number of actors to achieve more systemic change through policy advocacy or strengthening broader ecosystems.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for all the great comments so far! Let's move on to our second question:

Q2. How can business most effectively engage in the SDGs, and how can the UN most effectively engage with business?


(Paloma Duran) #53

the UN's deep understanding of development issues goes beyond its convening power. As the UN Agencies have a really good understanding of the needs of the country but also of the multidimensional approach to eradicate poverty. Mike, we are happy to provide some examples and you can visit our website.

Mike Wisheart said:

can I take the silence to mean you all agree?? :)

Mike Wisheart said:

Hi All,

its my hypothesis that the value of the UN exercising its conveing power to broker partnerships and collaborations between others (biz, CSOs, govts) could far exceed the potential value generated by developing direct UN-Business engagements. What do you think?

Mike


(Sofía Martín Salamanca) #54

Dear all,

This is Fundación SERES. We are very happy to be part of this group. Looking forward to having a great and interesting online discussion.


(Guergana Botchoukova-Farkova) #55

Hi all! I am a graduate student at Columbia University currently working on an SDG awareness project with the UNGC and have followed the SDG Fund work very closely. I am also interested in learning the answer to the question above. It makes a lot of sense for the two to be collaborating.



Graham Baxter said:

Hi everyone. I was a co-author on the report "Business and the UN" with Jane, Zahid and Alyssa. We identified a number of "shared imperatives" for business and the development community to work closely together in achieving the SDGs. But the reality is that, as already said, most companies don't "get it". The UN has an important role to play in brining more businesses to the table and I think it can do this effectively via the UN's business organisation, the Global Compact and its extensive networks around the world. What links are there now between the SDG-F and the UNGC?


(Paloma Duran) #56

The private sector has been invited to think deeply and act decisively about how to make a difference. However, at the same time and in order to harness the expertise and in-kind potential of the private sector, the United Nations needs to listen first to what companies have to say in participating in development initiatives. Understanding these dimensions would enable the UN to engage more effectively and creatively with business. This is the reason why, from the outset, the SDG-Fund has been working to ensure that business are at the negotiating table to design new partnerships and initiatives.

From the United Nations perspective, I believe that in the past the emphasis has tended to be placed on seeing business as a source of monetary contribution to an initiative. Nowadays there is a renewed emphasis across the organization on levering the in-kind contribution of the private sector. This can be through core business operations and value chains, social investments, philanthropic contributions and advocacy efforts. For this purpose, the UN should first motivate and mobilize business around specific strategic SDG engagement opportunities, helping companies understanding and aligning the SDGs around their core competencies, products and interests. Sharing guidelines, case studies, best practice examples and mapping tools will illustrate the private sector on good practice business engagement.

On the other hand, the UN needs to simplify the process of business engagement with UN agencies and other delivery partners, especially at the country level. Also, assessing impact is fundamental to valuing the positive and negative contributions a business makes towards the SDGs. Without the tools identified and in use, business will struggle to engage effectively. The Inter-agency Expert Group on SDG indicators at the United Nations Statistical Commission is currently working on developing indicators for the new Agenda. These experts will provide a proposal of a global indicator framework (and associated global and universal indicators) for consideration by the Statistical Commission at its forty-seventh session in March 2016.

The SDGs can help bring together partners around a shared set of goals and priorities. Building effective sustainable development partnerships requires a high degree of trust and commitment from those concerned. Partners should aim to set shared goals, leverage their respective core competences, develop clear governance structures, create a single monitoring framework and create a process for knowledge management.


(Paloma Duran) #57

Hi Guergana, I just replied to that question a few minutes ago. If you cannot find it, let me know.

Guergana Botchoukova-Farkova said:

Hi all! I am a graduate student at Columbia University currently working on an SDG awareness project with the UNGC and have followed the SDG Fund work very closely. I am also interested in learning the answer to the question above. It makes a lot of sense for the two to be collaborating.



Graham Baxter said:

Hi everyone. I was a co-author on the report "Business and the UN" with Jane, Zahid and Alyssa. We identified a number of "shared imperatives" for business and the development community to work closely together in achieving the SDGs. But the reality is that, as already said, most companies don't "get it". The UN has an important role to play in brining more businesses to the table and I think it can do this effectively via the UN's business organisation, the Global Compact and its extensive networks around the world. What links are there now between the SDG-F and the UNGC?


(Jane Nelson) #58

Very much agree with points made by Bianca and others about the first imperative of assessing how the 17 goals and 169 targets align overall with the company's existing sustainability strategies and priorities; and then focusing on more granular work around some of the most material or salient goals and how to develop new initiatives/ partnerships or scale up existing ones to really tackle these goals in a more systematic and systemic manner that makes good business sense.

Bianca Shead said:

I would agree that awareness is high but that action is still in the early stages. With 17 goals and 169 targets there is a lot to work out. In the early stages, we mapped our sustainable development Shared Imperatives with the G... to see where the top level alignment was.

But we've subsequently been doing some really interesting work to understand - at a really granular level - how our core business can support and further the SDGs which we'll be publishing later this year.

Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Patrik Tatang) #59

Hi all, nice to be here, lets have a lively community, sharing together for better SD Goals achievement.


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #60

Great discussion!

Let's move on to our third question:

Q3. What should the priorities for action be in 2016 to strengthen UN-business partnerships?