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


(Sergio Fernandez de Cordova) #61

Jane,

I wanted to also comment on your point about multi-stakeholder collaboration platforms. I think that in this context and with the UN very well suited to co-host or facilitate these platforms, there is a need of having simple and practical tools for collaboration, in terms of SDGs targets, action plans and tracking mechanisms. I find the existing ones a good reference point but not enough to help specific action plans

Any thoughts from the group on this?

Jane Nelson said:

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?


(Graham Baxter) #62

Paloma - that's it in a nutshell. Have you considered running for UN SG :) !! If only more people in the UN could think this way about the private sector we would see so much more collaboration and positive outcomes.



Paloma Duran said:

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.


(Jeff Geipel) #63

Agreed 100% It can't be about monetary contributions to initiatives, it has to be harnessing what companies are already doing (shared value in hiring, procurement, shared infrastructure, etc)

Paloma Duran said:

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) #64

We have received from Nutresa, one of the members of the SDG-Fund Private Sector Advisory Group the following answer: (They have technical problems to access the online discussion), the following answer:

1. What is the business and development case for increased UN-business engagement?

One of the major failures of The Millennium Development Goals was, perhaps, to leave apart the private sector. Since corporations play a fundamental role in determining the behavior of global economy, they should have a responsibility to work towards a more sustainable future.

Therefore, it is mandatory that all the strategies designed to build a better, more inclusive, and greener world are executed together with corporations.

Corporations can develop new ways of doing businesses; taking into account the power they have to attend and to transform positively the social issues that occur over the territory they cover. In the same way, its geographic scope allows them to reach places where now other institution can manage to get, so they can spread the positive impact of any action that is intended to be done.


(ANA ANTEQUERA PARDO) #65

I agree with Paloma, its necessary to work side by side, identify common areas of interest (geographical and matters) and begin to work, step by step, small to large and not vice versa


(Sofía Martín Salamanca) #66

Regarding the questions suggested for this discussion, Fundación SERES taking into account Harvard report, we strongly believe some of the key factors to increase engagement between UN-business would be the SDG implementation, clearness and tangibility.Participation UN-business since the early beginning of the process could clearly mean better and stronger engagement.


(Jane Nelson) #67

You make a very valid point Segio. I think the answer connects back to the discussion strand with Jeff about the WEF-UNDP-Columbia guide of mining and the SDGs and the KPMG SDG Matrix model - we need more industry-specific, issue-specific OR country-specific guides or toolkits that provide more granular guidance and contacts for companies to engage.

Sergio Fernandez de Cordova said:

Jane,

I wanted to also comment on your point about multi-stakeholder collaboration platforms. I think that in this context and with the UN very well suited to co-host or facilitate these platforms, there is a need of having simple and practical tools for collaboration, in terms of SDGs targets, action plans and tracking mechanisms. I find the existing ones a good reference point but not enough to help specific action plans

Any thoughts from the group on this?

Jane Nelson said:

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?


(Guergana Botchoukova-Farkova) #68

Thank you for the detailed reply Paloma. I just saw it!

Paloma Duran said:

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?


(Paloma Duran) #69

Regarding the third question, From my point of view, as articulated in our Report, the main priority would be to break down prejudices and building mutual understanding and trust between the UN and the private sector. We need to invest time in creating genuine partnerships in terms of what each party can most effectively contribute to development, the different languages, timelines and incentives that each other operates under, as well as the types of concerns and constraints that need to be overcome. In this regard, the SDG-Fund counts with a privileged position since it was conceived as the UN platform which brings together UN agencies, national governments, academia, civil society and business to address the challenges these actors often face while engaging each other.

As I mentioned in the previous question, the UN should first motivate and mobilize business around specific strategic engagement opportunities. For many, the best place to start will be to help companies understand what impact a business is having against each of the SDGs. It’s clear that business doesn’t intend to assess its impact across all the SDGs, companies need to look at those relevant to their business or a sub set of these. Consequently, the private sector will also need to rethink its strategy and change behaviors to contribute positively to the Sustainable Development Goals.

This is obviously the beginning of a journey but now is the time to mobilize the global community as never before. Governments, civil society and visionary and forward-looking companies must take the lead in pushing the Sustainable Development Agenda forward.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

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?


(Jane Nelson) #70

In the report that we recently published with Business Fights Poverty, in partnership with the SDG Fund, we set out a 3-part framework to action: Inspire-Connect-Equip.

This outlines what the UN can do to motivate and mobilise many more companies to get actively engaged in supporting the SDGs, how it can simplify and facilitate the process of business engagement with UN agencies and other delivery partners, especially at the country level, and how it can help to build and share knowledge and skills related to business engagement in development and new models of partnership and impact measurement.

I think the country-level action by the UN is going to be incredibly important in scaling up action and impact!

I also feel that more needs to be done to strengthen awareness among business of practical opportunities to collaborate, especially at the country level, using business language and simplifying the process for engagement. The focus should be on how to harness companies’ core business processes, products, services, people and competencies. Also, more can be done to help companies make the case internally for engaging in the SDGs - for example, specific messages to specific business units, country heads, brand leaders, investor relations, government relations colleagues etc. - and more broadly to help deepen the practical skills and knowledge needed across all partners.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

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?


(Joaquin Aviles Lopez) #71

Hi all,

This is Joaquin Aviles from i4sd, We promote the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through partnering with governments and delivering smart infrastructure solutions to local communities., specially in the areas access to energy, transportation, ICT and water.

Great discussion! I just wanted to share some useful tools that we found and that are very useful as a guidance for the private sector companies that want to work towards the achievement of SDGs in specific areas, and I will use energy (SDG number 7) as an example.

https://unite.un.org/sites/unite.un.org/files/app-desa-electrification/index.html

http://www.se4all.org/

These are opportunities for companies that want to approach the implementation of the SDGs as their core mission and help us align better with Government and UN priorities.

The work of the SDG-Fund in the different thematic areas or the different SDGs can also help to point out the best practices and tools available for companies that want to partner with the UN.


(Paloma Duran) #72

We have received from NUTRESA the following answers to the second and third question:

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

* Promoting spaces where sharing knowledge, successful experiences, and learnings between the UN and businesses could be developed.

* Aligning corporate performance with UN principles and initiatives, supported on tools given by the UN and applicable to private sector. (i.e.: Compass 2025)

* Bringing the SDG “down to earth”. This means adjusting any global goal to corporate conditions in order to become achievable and measurable for companies.

* Creating collaboration networks between companies and the UN, and strengthening the regional offices so they can give a better support to private sector (i.e. Global Compact regional networks, etc).

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

*Disclosing relevant information and developing trainings to companies so they can know how to tackle the SDG.

*Find connections, and then, foster tools that are massively and actually used by companies as a bridge of implementation of SDGs (for example through GRI, Integrated Reporting, etc). Doing so, private sector could easily incorporate SDG into its activities and decision processes.


(Graham Baxter) #73

Sergio. We know well that business gets done within a local context and I agree with Jane, that we need to build on networks locally to bring together willing businesses and UN and other agencies to co-create action plans which deliver good business and development outcomes. There is only so much that can be done from New York or London or Madrid.

Jane Nelson said:

You make a very valid point Segio. I think the answer connects back to the discussion strand with Jeff about the WEF-UNDP-Columbia guide of mining and the SDGs and the KPMG SDG Matrix model - we need more industry-specific, issue-specific OR country-specific guides or toolkits that provide more granular guidance and contacts for companies to engage.

Sergio Fernandez de Cordova said:

Jane,

I wanted to also comment on your point about multi-stakeholder collaboration platforms. I think that in this context and with the UN very well suited to co-host or facilitate these platforms, there is a need of having simple and practical tools for collaboration, in terms of SDGs targets, action plans and tracking mechanisms. I find the existing ones a good reference point but not enough to help specific action plans

Any thoughts from the group on this?

Jane Nelson said:

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) #74

Thank you Graham! We could think about that with your support!

Graham Baxter said:

Paloma - that's it in a nutshell. Have you considered running for UN SG :) !! If only more people in the UN could think this way about the private sector we would see so much more collaboration and positive outcomes.



Paloma Duran said:

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.


(Bianca Shead) #75

Completely agree with Jane. The private sector can most effectively deliver transformative change through its core business and that's where efforts should be focused.

The UN should use its influence in encouraging national governments to engage with the private sector - to help leverage the opportunities presented by their businesses and value chains. An example of this would be the role that the IFC has within the Water Resources Group which, in South Africa, is having a significant impact through the multi-stakeholder Strategic Water Partners Network.

Jane Nelson said:

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?


(Giovanni Di Placido) #76

Regarding the third question, the priorities for action in 2016 would focus to create a deeper institutionally and framework. This requires policy options to stimulate and target investment effectively. It´s necessary to advance with a smart Action Plan for Private Investment in the SDGs with the right incentives that allow it to serve as a point of reference for policymakers and private sector in their discussions on ways and means to implement the SDGs and the formulation of operational strategies.

The SDGs can only be achieved with involvement of the private sector working alongside Governments, and UN system. This relationship is a core to rebuild it on a new basis that allows greater effectiveness in the dynamic and joint action for the next 15 years.

The potential for involving the private sector is large. It will not happen through moral appeal or threats. It has to involve incentive systems that are mutually advantageous to all stakeholders in sustainable development. Create the design that means business SDG friendly could be an important task for 2016


(Paloma Duran) #77

Thanks Jane. This is exactly what we are doing in the SDG-Fund. Co-creating and co-implementing the programmes with the private sector, local governments and the UN system. The private sector could also contribute to the programmes through matching funds. If you need more information you will find it in our website: http://www.sdgfund.org/public-private-partnerships



Jane Nelson said:

In the report that we recently published with Business Fights Poverty, in partnership with the SDG Fund, we set out a 3-part framework to action: Inspire-Connect-Equip.

This outlines what the UN can do to motivate and mobilise many more companies to get actively engaged in supporting the SDGs, how it can simplify and facilitate the process of business engagement with UN agencies and other delivery partners, especially at the country level, and how it can help to build and share knowledge and skills related to business engagement in development and new models of partnership and impact measurement.

I think the country-level action by the UN is going to be incredibly important in scaling up action and impact!

I also feel that more needs to be done to strengthen awareness among business of practical opportunities to collaborate especially at the country level, using business language and simplifying the process for engagement. The focus should be on how to harness companies’ core business processes, products, services, people and competencies. Also, more can be done to help companies make the case internally for engaging in the SDGs - for example, specific messages to specific business units, country heads, barnd leaders, investor relations, government relations colleagues etc. - and more broadly to help deepen the practical skills and knowledge needed across all partners.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

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?


(Sofía Martín Salamanca) #78

The second question could be answered with a clear statement: complete alignement between companies and UN. The importance of joining forces from the begginig and designing together is essential.


(Barbara Ann Brown) #79

Whether it is business, government institutions, or individuals, all need to work together. Yet when I talk to people at a Chamber of Commerce event, an academic conference or with friends, and talk about working to eliminate hunger and poverty in the developing world, people will say, "Well yes, we need to, but we have to help our own first." (America has hunger in ALL 3144 counties in America. Of all places, hunger should not exist in America.) So, I say we must work locally and globally simultaneously to end hunger and extreme poverty (and to implement all the SDGs).. We can not wait to end hunger in our own country; we have not done so yet. One of the easiest ways may be for Business to promote community service efforts for their employees. Plus it may have more results in the end. Of course business can contribute money, but peoples' expertise is probably even better.

Also, I found in my community capacity building work that when people work on a project to help others they wind up helping themselves and most times seek more training and education to achieve more.


(Paloma Duran) #80

Thanks Giovanni. This is exactly what we are preparing with the companies in our Private Sector Advisory Group: An action plan for the co-designing, co-investment and co-implementation of the SDGs in the field.

Giovanni Di Placido said:

Regarding the third question, the priorities for action in 2016 would focus to create a deeper institutionally and framework. This requires policy options to stimulate and target investment effectively. It´s necessary to advance with a smart Action Plan for Private Investment in the SDGs with the right incentives that allow it to serve as a point of reference for policymakers and private sector in their discussions on ways and means to implement the SDGs and the formulation of operational strategies.

The SDGs can only be achieved with involvement of the private sector working alongside Governments, and UN system. This relationship is a core to rebuild it on a new basis that allows greater effectiveness in the dynamic and joint action for the next 15 years.

The potential for involving the private sector is large. It will not happen through moral appeal or threats. It has to involve incentive systems that are mutually advantageous to all stakeholders in sustainable development. Create the design that means business SDG friendly could be an important task for 2016