Private business activity, investment and innovation are major drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth and job creation. We acknowledge the diversity of the private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals. We call upon all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges. We will foster a dynamic and well-functioning business sector, while protecting labour rights and environmental and health standards in accordance with relevant international standards and agreements and other ongoing initiatives in this regard*.
*(Paragraph 67 of A/RES/70/1. “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/70/1)
To achieve the 2030 Agenda there must be an unprecedented level of collective action, which calls for increased engagement of relevant non-state actors. Private sector organizations, from small and medium-sized enterprises to chambers of commerce, to large corporations and multinational companies all have a significant role to play. The various actors in the private sector can drive the transition to sustainable production and consumption patterns in several sectors, generate decent jobs with a rights-based approach, and contribute to gender equality through their corporate practices. By complying with the SDG targets, companies can also engage in public-private partnerships to implement the 2030 Agenda, including to support crucial research and development capacities in developing countries.
Many companies across the world are recognizing that integrating sustainability principles and criteria into their operations and corporate practices is not only an ethical imperative but is also good business in the medium and long term. The engagement of the private sector is also an opportunity to adapt business models to address the challenges of the 2030 Agenda.
The agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations aim to promote more systematic participation by the private sector in the 2030 Agenda, through their different multi-stakeholder activities in Latin America and the Caribbean.These events have mobilized government entities, local government representatives, United Nations system partners (including the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Resident Coordinators) as well as development banks, chambers of commerce, social enterprises, stock exchanges and private companies, both multinational and regional, in strategic sectors for the region’s sustainable development. These agenda-setting discussions have addressed crucial issues such as sustainable production and consumption, and SDG monitoring and financing.
As an example of the above, since 2017, ECLAC and the United Nations Global Compact have been collaborating extensively to this end, establishing Regional SDG Business Forums in the framework of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, in order to facilitate:
- Analysis and exchange of good practices on the role of the private sector in the implementation, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.
- Promotion of public-private dialogues on pursuit of the SDGs.
The United Nations Global Compact. The world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative
A call to companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals. The UN Global Compact supports companies to:
- Do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/mission/principles;
- Take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation https://www.unglobalcompact.org/sdgs/about.
With the invitation to "act globally and participate locally" Global Compact companies in Latin America and the Caribbean are generating new strategies to guide their work towards the Sustainable Development Goals, promoting corporate sustainability at the national level and helping companies understand what corporate responsibility means within a national and regional context.
Local Network activities in the region are based on local priorities and needs. They range from corporate sustainability seminars, reporting trainings, issue-specific workshops, country-based consultations and policy dialogue to collective action projects, partnerships, networking events, local newsletters and good performance awards.
What are some key actions to promote private sector participation in the 2030 Agenda?
1. Public-private dialogues on strategic sectors for the 2030 Agenda
(i) Public-private pacts for sustainable development and structural change
- Transitions in agroecological production to address environmental impacts and drive higher productivity and decent work.
- Circular economy solutions to mitigate the impact of the region’s high reliance on extractive sectors.
- Transitions from traditional to renewable energies to counter the decrease of their share of total primary energy in the region and drive low-carbon solutions for increased demand.
- Digitalization in production systems.
- Sustainable urban development, including low-carbon mobility..
(ii) Public-private collaboration on data and monitoring of SDG implementation
- In the context of the data revolution, new and emerging sources of data can be increasingly adopted to measure, analyse and visualize both gaps and advances in SDG implementation. Partnerships between public, private and civil society actors are becoming increasingly important for access to emerging data sources and capacity-building.
- Companies are already monitoring their impact on pursuit of the SDGs or are using the SDGs to measure their impact. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are experiences with integrating such information into voluntary national reviews.
(iii) Mobilizing private sector financing and innovative instruments to pursue the SDGs
- Significant financial resources need to be mobilized to achieve the SDGs. In the region, 25 out of 33 member States are classified as middle-income countries, 7 as high-income and only 1 as low-income. The share of official development assistance (concessional flows) is declining, calling attention to new sources of financing, including from the private sector.
- Broader adoption of financial instruments, such as green bonds or green indexing in stock exchanges are areas public-private dialogues can help promote.
2. Capacity-building to integrate the contributions of the private sector into voluntary national reviews
Voluntary national review processes can benefit from capacity-building on how to reflect the participation and contribution of different actors to pursuit of the SDGs. To this end, as part of a regional voluntary national review training workshopheld in February 2020, ECLAC and Global Compact held a training session to share best practices and methodologies that countries in the region have employed to reflect private sector contributions.
Understanding voluntary national review preparation as an ongoing process to drive pursuit of the SDGs rather than simply a product, the integration of the private sector into voluntary national reviews is an opportunity to promote public-private dialogues and build consensus on key sustainability actions to be implemented at the national level.