INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY
15 - 16 November 2006, United Nations, New York

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SESSION 6B: WORKING TOGETHER, BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS

THURSDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2006 
15:00-16:20, Conference Room 2

Moderator: Mr. Amir Dossal, Executive Director, United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP)
Mr. Bharat Wakhlu, President, Tata Inc., US
Ms Wahu Kaara, Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals, All Africa Conference of Churches & Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)
Ms. Stefania Marcone, Director, International Relations Office, Legacoop

Session organized by DESA

“In the age of interdependence, global citizenship is a crucial pillar of progress.”
UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Recently there has been a growing recognition that successfully addressing global poverty requires establishing partnerships between the poor, non-governmental organizations, foundations, the private sector and governments. It is clear that global problems need collective action to be addressed most effectively. To address poverty reduction, including the poor in poverty reduction strategies not only gives voice and ownership to the poor but also increases the effectiveness of the efforts. By recognizing the common goal of global poverty reduction and the important complementary contributions that can be made by each type of actor, the global community has increased their ability to respond to some of the major social problems of our time. Recent natural disasters throughout the world have mobilized governments, NGO’s and foundations as well as private companies to support local relief efforts. Governments, nonprofits and private companies have come together to increase the availability of life saving anti-retroviral treatment to address the AIDS epidemic in Africa. By pooling resources, these partnerships are having a much greater impact than any one actor possibly could.

These highly visible cases illustrate a growing trend towards increased partnerships throughout the world. Millennium Development Goal 8 calls for developing a global partnership for development, and the global community is rising to the challenge. Official development assistance has increased since 1997, a large proportion of the increase has been aid in the form of debt relief. While debt relief is extremely important for reducing the strain on already struggling economies, it does not necessarily release more funds directly for poverty reduction. Also, the disaster relief mentioned above, while essential, does not address long-term development needs.

There has been an increasing appreciation in the development community of the role of the private sector. The amount of money invested in developing countries by the private sector is many times the amount of money given through development assistance and plays an important role in poverty reduction by generating investment, creating jobs and building wealth. Corporations can put their skills and assets to work addressing poverty through market-driven approaches to meeting basic needs, to complement donor and subsidy-led approaches. For such initiative to be effective it is essential that donors dialogue with the poor to innovate new means of meeting their needs. In addition, corporations can and do contribute to poverty reduction efforts through contributions in cash and in kind. They also set examples for employees through philanthropy and facilitate individual giving through employee matching programmes.

The UN has been reaching out to the business community through the Global Compact Initiative which promotes the practical application of universal principles on human rights, labour and the environment. More than 4000 organizations from 70 countries including mostly private companies but also dozens of civil society organizations and global trade union federations have joined the initiative.

There is increasing recognition that partnerships with poor people and poor communities are essential in order to implement successful poverty reduction campaigns. Civil society and international institution with presence on the ground provide an important link between governments and donors and facilitate such partnerships. Assessing the needs of the poor and realistic means to address those needs must be done in partnership with the poor themselves to be successful.

Foundations have increased partnerships recently under the MDG’s. Foundations provide expertise, ideas and can take the role of advocate and leader. Foundations are credible and respected actors in the countries and local communities being targeted. They also have the ability to work with partners on the ground as well as directly with the poor themselves. The UN Office for Partnerships, established following a $1 billon contribution from Ted Turner, facilitates linking foundations and other partners looking to support UN causes.

International institutions play an important role in building partnership-based action for poverty reduction. International institutions have global presences, with on-the-ground operational capabilities throughout the world. They have strong relationships with governments and civil society organizations to facilitate effective partnerships, as well as expertise and staff skilled in international development.

Despite important progress being made in forging partnerships, more work is needed. The speakers in today’s panel come from an international institution, an NGO, and the private sector. Each will discuss their involve