The United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) hosted the annual Partnership Forum at UN headquarters in New York on January 31, bringing together stakeholders across government, the private sector and civil society. The theme for this year’s Forum, which is also the theme of the upcoming UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), was: accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels. The Partnership Forum is the first of a series of UN meetings related to SDGs, which will culminate in the UN SDG Summit in September during the High-Level Opening.
USCIB, as part of the Business and Industry (B&I) Major Group at the UN in NY, played a critical role in this year’s Partnership Forum. USCIB SVP for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy delivered a private sector intervention as Co-Chair of the B&I Major Group. Additionally, USCIB Board member Chris Sharrock, Microsoft’s VP for United Nations and International Organizations spoke on a panel during a “Spotlight Session” hosted by USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).
Throughout the Forum, there was a consensus among governments that the private sector was a necessary participant in partnerships to accelerate progress on the SDGs and reach full implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
During her intervention, Kennedy emphasized three priority areas outlined by the President of the UN General Assembly (PGA)—sustainability, science and solidarity. Linking these three priority areas to greater opportunities for private-public partnerships, Kennedy also cited USCIB’s Moving the Needle initiative, which will gather private sector tools and approaches across the three priority areas set by the PGA and to advance proposals set out in “Our Common Agenda,” an agenda-setting report by UN Secretary General Guterres.
“The potential of the private sector to work with governments and the international community for sustainability, science and solidarity solutions is not yet fully tapped, and with how far we have fallen behind on the SDGs, we should not hesitate to crowd in all partners,” said Kennedy.
“Looking ahead to the SDG Summit, and next year’s Summit for the Future, we are calling for greater inclusivity of business and stronger cooperation across private and public sectors at all levels,” she added.
During the spotlight session hosted by IOE and USCIB on “unlocking investment and financing for SDG implementation: the role of private sector partnerships,” Sharrock talked about the importance of partnerships and robust private sector engagement to mobilize financing and investment for Least Developed Countries (LCDs) through blended finance.
“Private sector engagement can make a large impact through sustainable and affordable financing for all sectors at LDCs—in connectivity, agriculture, energy, sustainable tourism as well as climate action. And this can all be done through scaled use of blended finance instruments,” said Sharrock. “The blended finance model creates an opportunity to increase the size and breadth of investment in LDCs by combining public funds with private investment and advisement to increase impact.”
The UN is co-organizing the Private Sector Forum at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-5) in Doha, Qatar from March 5 to 9 with Microsoft; USCIB is a member of the Business Advisory Group assisting in planning the LDC5 Private Sector Forum.