UNDP Resident Representative, Frode Mauring keynote speech at the Business for Peace Annual Event

Oct 26, 2016

Frode Mauring, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to the United Arab Emirates -also covering the states of Oman and Qatar- Speech at the ‘Business for Peace’ Annual Event.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Strengthening ties of collaboration and knowledge sharing with the private sector, is an important component in every successful, modern society.

Before joining the UN team, I worked in private sector for almost two decades: first in banking, followed by international consulting, and later as chief executive of a successful industrial cooperation in Angola. This was during Angola’s civil war. I think I speak with some experience when I say I can view things from more than one perspective.

To be in charge of a UN Country Office is pretty much like being a private sector entrepreneur, and much less like running a bureaucracy.

You start with some seed funding from headquarters but then you must build up your partnership base to raise the funds you need to provide your value added.  Most of the management challenges are similar, recruit, manage, motivate and retain talent.

What my time in the UN has taught me, is that, to be an effective actor for sustainable development, you have to be humble.  The UN and other development actors can do great things, but we must acknowledge that nothing has brought more people out of poverty than a thriving private sector.

I think I can speak for my UN colleagues here, when I say, that we recognize that enterprises are drivers of economic growth and development, in the MENA region and elsewhere.  

The public sector gets their revenues from the taxes, that companies, and the individuals that work for them, pay.

People who have jobs have a salary, and therefore can solve many of their personal needs.

People who have jobs are less likely to be poor and less likely to engage in conflict, so private sector development in conflict areas is also conflict prevention.

Without the private sector, it is difficult to visualize the great strides the world has achieved through the Millennium Agenda, and I can confidently say that without the private sector we can forget about meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

With this in mind, already in many parts of the world, UN agencies, funds and programmes are engaging with enterprises to capture their innovation and reframing potential.

Take for instance the United Nations Social Impact Fund. To maximize every dollar invested in today’s social impact investment sector, the platform brings together venture philanthropists, foundations, corporations, government and private investors to chart a new course for a collaborative financing model, that ties directly into supporting the achievement of the newly established SDG priority sectors.

Or on a more local level, we can look at the Re-Coded programme in Iraq. This initiative, supported by UNDP, is training the brightest refugees to be world-class software developers, before connecting them with private sector employment.

 

In Colombia, the SDG Philanthropy Platform is articulating the know-how of fourteen corporate and family foundations to strengthen their collective capacity in the workforce, and strengthen critical institutional capacities in remote regions of the country, with an emphasis on those that have been affected by conflict.

I can also share some insights gained personally 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 transparent sustainability reporting and a stakeholder approach to their strategy that included the societies at large.

I have seen the companies in the Global Compact networks become the link for job creation programmes, become instruments for social and ethnic cohesion and become partners for stimulating local production for delivery of food programmes, to mention a few.

In Kichevo valley for example it was the private sector we turned to when local economic development funds were identified as a tool to both combat poverty in a depressed region while easing the aftermath of Macedonia’s ethnic violence in 2001.

In the divided city of Mitrovica in Kosovo, social entrepreneurs were partners to making youth of different ethnicities work together in efforts to combine fighting youth unemployment with peace-building.

Undoubtedly, the local Global Compact networks can continue to act as vehicles for bringing business, the UN, and local governments together to promote peace and ultimately achieve the SDGs.

Even if the major challenge will be to sustain these relationships over time, I can only recommend that we, the UN, the networks and the private sector, all remain proactive here.

We should all commit to capturing the transformative power of the market to promote sustainable development in our quest for making better also in the most difficult areas of the globe.

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