While partnerships are a widely accepted means to complement government policy and implementation, USCIB’s Business Experts Roundtable on Enhancing Impact of SDG Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s), which was held on the margins of the UN General Assembly, zeroed in on the special attributes and expectations relating to such partnerships for SDG implementation.
The Roundtable, hosted by Deloitte in New York, provided feedback from experts and invited speakers from companies, the U.S. government and UN entities to comment on what they considered to be the essential ingredients for impact when it came to designing and implementing those cooperative approaches.
Kay Thompson, Deloitte, served as a facilitator for the session, and encouraged the speakers to reflect on failures as well as successful experiences in their experience with SDG partnerships.
Justin Perrettson, Novozymes, who also serves as vice chair of USCIB’s Environment Committee, offered opening comments on the misperception by many of partnerships as an “easy option.” Many of the important elements for success and resilience in partnership appear after the initial memorandum of understanding, in their implementation. Any discussion of ingredients for impact would have to prioritize PPP execution along with PPP design.
Thomas Debass, who represented the State Department Office of Global Partnerships, highlighted the innovation and new ideas that private sector entities can bring to governments and inter-governmental organizations via partnerships. Many companies have moved to embed the SDG’s into their business model, and this is a development that will certainly extend the positive impact of PPP’s.
Stefanie Amadeo, of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, added to that observation, reflecting that the UN could learn a great deal from the private sector in SDG PPP design and implementation.
Charles North, U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), reminded the meeting of AID’s long history and experience in partnering for development with business; these experiences lend themselves to data mining to help understand the specific circumstances that enable success and impact. More recently, he noted that the longest running and most effective PPPs are those in which the private sector partner sees core business opportunities, beyond corporate philanthropy and social responsibility. He concluded by identifying challenges ahead on SDG PPPs, particularly those relating to differences in language and expectation between public and private sector partners.
Vinicius Pinheiro of the International Labor Organization (ILO) spoke about 3 main elements for impact in SDG partnerships: shared values, clear and concrete commitments and follow-up mechanisms.
Helen Medina of Nestle, and a former USCIB staffer, observed that corporate culture is fundamental in SDG PPPs, and that is a major factor in Nestle’s approach. For Nestle, almost any business activity involves partnership in some form, hence it is regarded as an integral part of doing business. The SDGs resonate with Nestle’s strong focus on corporate responsibility, which is expressed in actions at the community level as well as from Nestle’s C-suite.
Sahba Sobhani, UNDP, talked about the ability of the UN system and network to bring multiple business platforms together on a large scale for impact, for example recently on disaster response. The UN provides an essential ingredient for impact in its capacity building work, including with business groups in country. He flagged the 3 C’s for SDG PPP impact: Convening, Catalyzing and Mobilizing Capital.
Livio Vanghetti of PMI described the challenges of internal transformation as the company moves to reinvent itself and its products, while still advancing SDG PPPs through their supply chains and local farmers.
Tara Nathan, MasterCard also emphasized the importance of commercial frameworks that can support innovative partnerships, whether through data or supply and value chains links. For SDG PPP impact, these frameworks should be sought out and aligned with SDG implementation.
Alex Assanvo of Mars shared his experience with SDG PPPs and the need to translate what the SDGs set out into practical changes across diverse and often disconnected business functions, including procurement. Bringing development agency partners together with business partners can require multiple attempts until the right arrangements and flexibility can be reached.
Throughout the Roundtable, speakers agreed that delivering the SDG’s depends on involvement of the private sector, and a substantial component of that practical contribution will come through partnerships.
USCIB’s SDG Working Group will develop a white paper that will capture and expand on the areas mentioned in this Roundtable, with a focus on U.S. business and the role it can play to scale up the impacts of SDG PPP, working collaboratively through U.S. government and in the context of the United Nations system.
Please contact Norine Kennedy or Gabriella Herzog for more information