Mobilizing the private sector for the 2030 Agenda

  • Posted by Fran Cator
  • June 16, 2016 2:40 PM BST

Brussels, 16 June 2016: A high-level panel will today discuss how the public and private sector can engage to accelerate sustainable development at the annual European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, Belgium.

This year’s event, organized by the European Commission, marks the tenth anniversary of the leading forum on development and international cooperation. The EDD bring together the development community to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is at the forefront of this year’s forum and will be the topic of discussion for one of the several panels taking place. Trillions of dollars will be needed annually to achieve the 2030 Agenda objectives and both national and international public funds are unable to cover the requirements. Consequently, countries will be looking to attract additional private finance to help drive economic growth and industrial development as a basis for poverty reduction while protecting natural resources. The private sector will therefore play a pivotal role in the goal of achieving sustainable development for all.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), SES, Conservation International (CI) and the African Diaspora Network in Europe (ADNE) will propose and discuss innovative solutions to try and engage the private sector to work towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set in the 2030 Agenda. They will do this alongside Christian Danielsson, Director General of the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).

Under-Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director Grete Faremo will emphasize the important role the UN system – with its unique set of core values, expertise and global perspective – in harnessing private sector capital for sustainable development. UNOPS is already working hard to engage with private investors and funds while also mapping ways to lower obstacles and reduce risks so that private capital can be invested in the infrastructure needed to turn the SDGs into reality. UNOPS is launching an investment vehicle to manage the allocation of private capital through a Social Impact Investment Fund, focusing on financing mature, sustainable projects and initiatives that will contribute to the realization of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. This will result in measurable social and environmental returns, benefiting both communities and investors.

Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO, will underline the importance of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) for poverty reduction, job creation and wealth generation. Industrialization can be a powerful tool to end poverty and create job opportunities, especially for youth and women, as a 1% increase in Manufacturing Value Added (MVA) translates into an almost 2% decrease in the poverty head count SDG 9 on resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation. This provides a great opportunity for engaging the private sector, especially SMEs and industries. To reach such a challenging goal, it is necessary to create multi-stakeholder partnerships. In regards to this, Asmâa Morine Azzouzi, President of the Women Entrepreneurship Association in Morocco, will bring her long-standing experience to discuss the role of women entrepreneurship in industry. Fostering entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial spirit can boost economic development, empower women and youth, and stimulate cultural change.

SES – which is already involved in billion-dollar investments in the African satellite infrastructure and solutions market – will demand that connectivity deployment and private sector engagement in the 2030 Agenda should become a priority for the European Commission, if the SDGs are to be achieved. Ibrahima Guimba Saidou, Senior Vice President, SES Commercial in Africa, will say that substantial private investments are required in Africa to ensure that business and social development objectives are met, with the public sector playing an equal role by investing in market improvements such as e-services. The current lack of public funds invested in connectivity means that public-private partnerships are essential in further promoting and accelerating opportunities in such markets. Furthermore, without the connectivity that is provided by companies such as SES, economic growth and inclusive societies will remain limited. Alongside these issues, regulatory security is essential for private investors, something that can only be achieved through government implementation of harmonized and transparent regulatory frameworks.

Herbert Lust, CI’s Vice President in Europe, will discuss the importance of encouraging private sector engagement with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, as well as the importance of investing more resources in nature’s capacity to support both. Nature itself also represents a crucial aspect for combatting climate change, as simply halting tropical deforestation can provide 30% of the mitigation efforts needed to limit warming to 1.5º and provides additional benefits for adapting to climate change. In this context, the private sector has a key role to play to ensure that the production of vital goods and services is sustainable. For instance, together with Starbucks, CI has been working on the ground with coffee farmers to promote environmentally and socially sustainable production practices, create new income streams from conservation and carbon markets, and provide loans for sustainable enterprise development.

ADNE will highlight a number of themes ranging from the challenges faced by diaspora to investing in developing countries. ADNE will offer some suggestions for the promotion of diaspora investments while also looking to increase its participation in capital markets in the countries of origin. Evidence shows that expats play an important role in the development of their home countries, with diaspora remittances of US$60 billion annually surpassing official aid. Diasporas contribute to the integration of developing countries into the globalization process by transferring resources, knowledge and technologies back home. Diaspora investments are important assets that need to be encouraged in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. The potential of diasporas as investors is not fully acknowledged by the traditional development community as yet.

Finally, the Young Leader Rose Sakala, from Malawi, will tell a powerful and compelling story and highlight her work to foster community development and local economic development based on entrepreneurship and local processing models.

As the 2030 Agenda is implemented, inclusive partnerships and engagement with the private sector will play a crucial role in achieving the objectives. With this in mind, all panel members are open to new and innovative ideas that bring the private sector, cooperation agencies, international organizations and governments together in an effort to bridge private capital with sustainable development.