United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) deputy resident representative Carol Flore-Smereczniack has said the private sector has a critical role to play if 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved within the set time frame.
SDGs are a set of new priorities consisting 17 goals, 169 priorities and over 300 indicators formulated by the United Nations (UN) and adopted by member countries at its summit in September last year.
The SDGs set global development priorities for a generation and identifies the eradication of poverty in all its forms as the most urgent task.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Compact Malawi Network being championed by the Africa Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) in Lilongwe on Friday, Flore-Smereczniack said how the private sector conducts its business and where they do it will have a significant impact on whether SDGs for the benefit of all people are achieved or not.
She said: “Because of the scope and ambition of the SDGs, no government acting alone can hope to achieve them. We need effective collaboration and strong partnerships between the private and public sector.
“Though governments are responsible to set the rightframework conditions for inclusive growth and development, civil society and the business community in particular, has a critical role to play.”
The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest initiative aimed at mainstreaming 10 universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption in business activities.
Flore-Smereczniack said there are many encouraging examples of what it takes to create successful partnerships, citing the Business Call to Action (BCtA), which is a unique multilateral alliance hosted by UNDP, with more than 140 companies that have made measurable commitments.
She said though Malawi is a small economy and faces significant development challenges, companies can contribute immensely to the inclusive and sustainable development of the country, not through flagship corporate social responsibility projects, but more importantly, through core businesses and standard business operating procedures.
AICC board director DybornChibonga, whose organisation is taking the lead in instituting a Malawian Chapter of the UN Global Compact, said this is one way of fostering economic growth and poverty alleviation through the building of partnerships between public, semi-public and private entities.
“UN Global Compact principles provide a universal definition for responsible business and this provides a starting point. Achieving SDGs can also prove to be beneficial to companies.
“The SDGs can help strengthen the enabling environment for business, define future business opportunities, enhance the business case for sustainable business practices as well as allow for better stakeholder engagement,” he said.
For a company to join the UN Global Compact, it should review the online application guideline on www.unglobalcompact.org and send a letter of commitment to UN Secretary General expressing commitment to engage in partnerships to advance broad UN goals and the annual submission of a Communication on Progress (COP).
The Global Compact was created as a result of a landmark speech made by former
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the World Economic Forum in 1999.