If the international community wants to achieve sustainable development on a global scale in this generation, strengthened public-private partnerships and the mobilization of private finances are indispensable, Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General said at the closing of the International Business Forum in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
Mr. Wu, who currently serves as Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3) reiterated that public finance alone will not be sufficient to meet the enormous financial needs for sustainable development.
“Different estimates of these needs all confirm that there are large requirements across all critical sectors,” Mr. Wu said. “There is an urgent necessity to attract long term private investment into critical areas such as infrastructure, education, agriculture and the financing of micro and smaller enterprises.”
Held on 14 July as part of FFD3, the International Business Forum debated the role and future of the private sector within global development. Stakeholders increasingly recognize that including business in global development accelerates progress.
“The business sector has a crucial role to play in ensuring sustainable development, achievement of the SDGs, and of the very survival of our planet”
Business of all sizes have, over generations, finetuned their processes of providing societies with products and services that have made lives easier and more fulfilling, according to the remarks by John Danilovich, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, at the opening session of the forum.
Danilovich also reiterated that the private sector has driven “higher standards of living, providing jobs, pathways out of poverty, taxes and crucial investment into our local communities.”
“Businesses continue to make important and direct contributions to development,” Mr. Wu said. “For example, ensuring that local communities benefit from major development projects, building national business coalitions for education, supporting micro-finance schemes, and setting standards for best business practices.”
The forum underscores the value of the goal-oriented and creative nature of private enterprises, and its large number of participants made evident that the private sector is eager to join in on development efforts.
More than 800 businesses are represented at the FFD3 conference, an unprecedented number at a UN event. It clearly signals the changing role of the private sector when it comes to development.
“Business owners don’t come to Africa to give aid,” Helen Hai, Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization said to the audience of entrepreneurs and philanthropist alike. “They come to Africa to do business.”
“The business sector has a crucial role to play in ensuring sustainable development, achievement of the SDGs, and of the very survival of our planet,” Mr. Wu stressed in his remarks. “And sustainable development across its economic, social and environmental pillars would serve to benefit our children and future generations.”