ACHIEVING an ambitious agenda like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without full engagement with the Private Sector and the business community.
Former UNDP Administrator and New Zealand Prime Minister, Ms Helen Clark made this statement during a Business After Five (BA5) event organised by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) this week in Honiara.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The SDGs set global development priorities for a generation, and without doubt our world will be more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable if the Goals are achieved.
All UN Member States have signed up to the SDGs.
More than one hundred SICCI members, private sector representatives and members of the business community turned up for what was the biggest SICCI BA5 event to date, in terms of participation.
Clark highlighted at the event that Government and public money alone cannot help the country achieve the SDGs.
“It is quite clear that an ambitious agenda like this can’t remotely come near to being achieved, without full engagement with the world’s private sector.
“The public money isn’t there to do it, this agenda has to inspire both businesses to do business differently but also it has to inspire investment in things that are inclusion and sustainable,” Clark, who was Prime Minister from 1999-2008, said.
She said Governments have to make their luck for their countries and the way in which governments design their policy frameworks will also have an impact on how investment is attracted.
“Businesses like certainty, likes to know where the Government is taking the country, what steps it’s taking and businesses like predictability for investment security.
“What Governments want to achieve with the development of their country and the achievement of the SDGs can’t be done with public money,” Clark said.
During her presentation, Clark highlighted some interesting examples around the world on how the private sector has come in to make a difference.
“The role of private sector in achieving the SDGs is absolutely essential.
“How business does business, and where it does business, will have a significant impact on whether the SDGs are achieved,” she said.
“Through commitment to inclusive business models and eco-sensitive ways of operating, the impact will be very positive,” Clark added.
SICCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dennis Meone said in the Solomon Islands the challenges are quite complex in getting businesses in tune with the SDGs and the National Development Strategy which is something the private sector can work together with government to get the information from the top and down to all layers of society.
But by hosting Ms Clark at its popular networking event the BA5, SICCI has provided the opportunity for businesses and the private sector to get deep insight on how they can engage and participate in helping the country achieve the SDGs.
“I think one of the challenges for us is how do we really engage the private sector. Yes, the SDGs are there and nationally we have the National Development Strategy (NDS), but how does the private sector get involved.
“Most businesses in the country are already undertaking SDGs and NDS initiatives except they don’t know it’s part of the SDGs. We just need to stocktake and align what’s been happening on the ground to the SDGs and get people informed about it,” Meone said.
Meone said businesses in Solomon Islands can take encouragement from some examples from overseas where companies use those SDGs as branding for them in securing investment opportunities.
“The SDGs and NDS are long term goals but can be achievable and it comes back to collective efforts.
“Government has the leading role in ensuring we achieve the SDGs but also the civil society and the private sector can really make it happen,” the SICCI CEO said.