UNDP Resident Representative, Frode Mauring keynote speech at the Global Compact 2016.Oct 25, 2016
Frode Mauring, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. & UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to the United Arab Emirates -also covering the states of Oman and Qatar- Speech at UN Private Sector Focal Points Network Annual Meeting.
The UN system recognizes that enterprises are drivers of economic growth and development in the MENA region and elsewhere. Without the private sector, we would not have moved literally hundreds and millions out of poverty in the Millennium Agenda, and without the private sector we can forget about meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Private sector brings jobs, pays salaries so people can solve many of their own problems, be too busy or have too much to lose to engage in conflict, and pays taxes so governments can function and provide services. Companies are sources of entrepreneurial initiative, creativity and innovation.
Here in the UAE, we are in a unique position as a United Nations Country Team. We are not here to feed food insecure, we are not here to seek access to education or to establish health services, for sure we are not here to rebuild Dubai. However, the relatively small programme portfolio is typically centred around connecting knowledge and people around global development agendas, what they can do for UAE and how UAE can contribute to these agendas elsewhere. Agencies are also here promoting partnerships, or using Dubai as a major global logistics hub for delivery of humanitarian assistance. UAE is also a good location for harnessing partnerships with the private sector.
As the country poises itself to become a leader in competitive, equitable, knowledge-based economies, with sustainable economic returns, it is benefitting from creation of an enabling policy and regulatory environment for enhanced global and regional competitiveness. Also, imperative for this vision are skilled national workforce that possesses creativity, responsiveness, productivity, and capacities for problem solving and critical thinking. They see social inventions and environmentally friendly practices and technologies being expanded to civil society networks, including private enterprises.
It is toward this idea that we, as a United Nations System in UAE, are working, building on values not only of the economy’s tangible assets, but also on social and natural capital, including values of human rights, equity, cultural integrity and ecological balance. In particular, we aim to help to expand a national innovation system by ensuring stronger inter-linkages among Emirati and international actors to create, acquire, disseminate and apply various kinds of knowledge.
The UAE private sector partnerships are vital to achieve this. The local Global Compact network has seen tremendous growth in a relatively short period of time. The chapter was established early in 2015, and now boasts close to 100 members from a wide spectrum of industries. As part of its activities, they are promoting an SDGs Solutions event that would, not only reinforce to the network members the vital role they have in completing this agenda, but also allow them to have their priorities reflected in proposed solutions.
This is the fifth country office I am leading. I can also share some insights gained from my other assignments. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to be part of the establishment of Global Compact Networks in my previous posts in both Macedonia and Kosovo. I witnessed the willingness of companies to, not only uphold the Global Compact principles, but also collaborate towards to transparent sustainability reporting and a stakeholder approach to their strategy that included the societies at large.
Undoubtedly, these local networks can continue to act as vehicles for bringing business, the UN, and local governments together to achieve the SDGs.
The experience from the small and nascent Balkan states showed that the dependency of UNDP as a hosting agency for Global Compact was very large and that it was difficult to establish critical mass to ensure that they would stand on their own feet. In an established and large place for private enterprise as UAE this is obviously easier to achieve. Still, there is huge value in these networks, both in the promotion of transparency and values and in mobilisation of private sector to reach development goals.
As Resident Coordinator, I have seen the companies in these networks becoming vehicles for job creation programmes, instrument for social and ethnic cohesion and partners for stimulating local production for delivery of food programmes to mention a few. A challenge can be to sustain these relationships over time, and recommend the UN, the networks and the private sector to be proactive here. We should all commit to capturing the transformative power of market forces to promote sustainable development.
As a UN country team, we welcome all initiatives that lead to strengthened collaboration and knowledge sharing with the private sector.Contact information