A new way for the private sector to influence the post-2015 agenda

Kazuki Kitaoka, the head of strategic planning at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, speaks April 10 at an event organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies on how to engage the private sector at the nexus of food, jobs and technology. Photo by: CSIS / CC BY-NC-SA

Corporate leaders have at times complained about their difficulties in influencing global development priorities — especially as negotiations on a new post-2015 agenda heat up — but a new set of consultations which began Thursday could provide companies a platform to share their thoughts.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the U.N. Global Compact have launched the first in a series of local, regional and online consultations to gather private sector input on the emerging post-2015 agenda and how it can be implemented.

An event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., last week, which brought together representatives from the private sector, government and civil society to discuss to the role of public-private partnerships in the post-2015 development agenda, served as the consultations’ soft launch.The first round of the online discussion launched Thursday.

“We need to move away from isolated, small development pilot activities to a much more transformative and broad agenda that really includes a transformative process for all of us, for all our societies, to fully eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development in the long term,” Kazuki Kitaoka, the head of strategic planning for UNIDO, said at the CSIS event.

To successfully tackle today’s development challenges, the private sector will play an important role, he suggested.

Last week’s event provided an opportunity for the private sector to voice partnership concerns, a key purpose of the upcoming consultations.

Katelin Kennedy, the manager of strategic partnerships at Hilton Worldwide, said that she welcomes the opportunity to have concrete discussions about deepening the role of business in development.

“We are looking for those opportunities that are a win for business and a win for society,” she said. “We want to partner with organizations that are thinking about that and that are thinking about, as a hospitality company, what unique resources and expertise we can bring to these issues to help move the needle. And hopefully that’s not only money and hotel rooms,” she said, adding that they often hear that from potential partners.  

Kennedy said that she attends a lot of great meetings that highlight the importance of the issues but she is looking for instructions and tangible next steps.

Thomas Herlehy, Land O’Lakes’ practice area manager for agricultural productivity and competitiveness, said that he has often found a disconnect between working with USAID in Washington and with its missions abroad. He urged USAID to get missions on the same page to ensure better public-private partnerships and to streamline the paperwork required to engage.

Others, including Trevor Davies, global head of KPMG’s Center for Excellence for international development assistance services, cited language and communication as key issues in developing successful partnerships.  

These will likely be among the topics of discussion during the ongoing consultations.

These consultations will focus on five themes:  

  • Developing government policies that drive corporate sustainability: What policies could encourage innovation, investment and sustainability for the post-2015 agenda?

  • Enhancing partnerships: What approaches are the most effective and how can they be leveraged to advance post-2015 priorities?

  • Mobilizing private sustainability finance: What policy and regulatory frameworks can encourage investment that seeks social or environmental benefits in addition to financial returns?

  • Localizing the architecture for SME engagement: How can small and medium-sized enterprises best be supported to align their goals with development and what local successes can inform universal principles?

  • Building trust through enhanced transparency and accountability: What are the best practices for measuring private sector contributions toward achieving the yet-to-be defined post-2015 development goals, and what tools and resources are needed to improve measurement?  

National consultations are expected to be held in Mongolia, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Uruguay, with others planned in Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya. U.N. Global Compact will use its local networks, which along with UNIDO’s local representatives and help from both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Spanish government will help to organize the discussions. A series of regional consultations and a global event, to be held in Ethiopia, are also planned.

The end result of the consultations and e-debates will be a final report that will most likely be unveiled on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly in September, and is expected to inform the final set of objectives that will be at the center of the post-2015 development agenda.

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About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.