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Private sector support and contribution to SDG’s.. a cursory look

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

As a participant, who represented the “Private Sector” in the 2nd batch of the flagship online course- “Anti-Corruption in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development UNDP/UNSSC”, I share few inputs on how private sectors can play an effective role in combating corruption, thereby supporting and contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). There are 17 SDG's in total.

1)     Infrastructure development is a critical factor for a country’s long-term growth and economic development, which has the ammunition to accelerate the progress of SDG’s. Out of 21.6 trillion infrastructure-investment needs in the last 27 years in the emerging and developing economies, the private participation is just 1.6 trillion, just at 7%. There are in-fact several barriers and reasons as why the private participation in infrastructure is at such a low, but commitment to channel the huge pool of liquidity into such projects and support and collaboration with government and public sector, can go a long way in overcoming such obstacles and to progress towards SDG’s.

 2)     Private sector plays an important role in the development of global indicators and targets in the national development goals as part of monitoring the SDG’s. In countries where they have little role or marginalized, the private sectors have to work constructively, lobby hard with the Government and strive to get their voting rights and to being treated as equal partner, so that they have a role switch from observer or consulting to decision-maker. Their collective and strong level of knowledge in focus areas and their involvement in the development groups, can help to drill-down to the national problems in greater detail and get comprehensive associated frameworks.

 3)     SDG 16 which measures peace, justice and strong institutions is now beset with practical challenges in its measurement and implementation of 226 indicators. There can be no progress without peace and there can be no peace without progress. We have over 88 Tier II indicators and 34 Tier III. Data for Tier II are not produced consistently by countries and no internationally established methodology or standards are available for Tier III. Private Sector can play a huge role in SDG 16 through public-private collaboration. Private sectors can channel their institutional funds, resources, knowledge and expertise, collaborate with governments and with custodian agencies like (World Bank, ILO, UNICEF, UNDP, FAO, to name the few) and support in making of globally comparable tools, indicators and data to promote peace, justice and progress.

 4)     Corruption is a poison, a silent killer and has indeed become a growing global threat to the sustenance of human race in our planet. Corruption is the greatest impediment in the five pillars of 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development-known as 5P’s People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership and Peace. The integration of anti-corruption in SDG’s can identify, eliminate or mitigate the corruption risks. The integration also helps in combating corruption during the life-cycle of measurable business activity within the SDG and then accelerates the progress towards achieving sustainable development goals. The role of private sectors on 5P’s starts in principle by not only adopting zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption, but have robust compliance policies (Code of Conduct, Anti-Bribery Policy, Gift Policy, Whistle-Blowing) to promote fair, just and inclusive environment. The tone and conduct from the top should push the middle management to drive the compliance culture across the organization and ensure a conducive environment for employees to embrace integrity in their day-to-day work.

5)     The ethical conduct of companies is taking mainstream attention globally. A good corporate needs to have strong ethical values, that can withstand the rigors of competition, that can sustain over the years, that can have undiluted focus year on year and that can stand over time. These are essence to fighting anti-corruption in all the SDG 17 goals and also critical for the growth and bottom-lines. What pulse is to human beings is what ethical values to corporates. Private sectors should support in creating or sustaining an environment where transparency, accountability and integrity form an integral part of a good governance system and that promotes principled performance. This is an important anti-corruption measure, which can significantly help in preventing and combatting corruption and more importantly, accelerate the progress in meeting development goals. The SDG strategies, measurement KPI’s and their progress should be included in sustainability reporting, as hardly 19% of the corporate reports in private sector has any mention of the progress on SDG initiatives. 

 6)     Technology sector and social media are represented fairly by private sector players. By collaborating with respective governments, NGO’s and civil societies, private sectors may adopt innovative approach and their “mass reach” tools and capabilities to promote anti-corruption efforts at grassroots levels. Private sector should align and work together for a greater cause, their actions and efforts should promote sustainable anti-corruption culture and make meaningful and measurable progress on each of the 17 SDG’s.

 SDG goals and paths are set, the road is clear and it needs one of many drivers. Are we the one?

Thanks Ashok Sarangapani

Managing Partner, ABMS Consulting.

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