Public Private Partnerships: Member State initiatives to Ensure the Success of the SDGs

As delivered

Statement by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Peter Thomson, at the event entitled “Public Private Partnerships: Member State initiatives to Ensure the Success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”

23 May 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to address this conference on Public-Private Partnerships.

I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of Suriname for organizing this event, and for their commitment to advancing the global discourse on the importance of public-private partnerships to achieving sustainable peace, development and prosperity for all.

Through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, world leaders have given humanity a universal plan to transform our world for the better. Our task is to stay true to these agreements and take action on their implementation.

Driving global action at the scale and speed necessary to realize this future is a massive challenge. Only by harnessing the power of all stakeholders will we successfully meet this global challenge.

In this regard, strategic and innovative public-private partnerships that leverage comparative advantages and connect the resources of investors and inventors with the needs of end-users, are critical to driving the integrated action needed to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Last week I convened a SDG Action Event on Innovation and Connectivity here at the United Nations. The event provided a space for leading innovators and technology entrepreneurs to share their ideas with Government leaders and policy-makers. The event shed light on how emerging technologies can help to drive implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Throughout what was a dynamic day of discussions, one of the central messages to emerge was that for the revolutionary potential of technology to be fully realised, private sector innovators need to work in collaborative partnerships with Governments, the United Nations, and local business and civil society groups, in order to manage risks, build trust, and ensure that advances are directed towards the public good.

The importance of Public-Private Partnerships to driving SDG implementation, and to mobilizing the estimated US$5-7 trillion in annual investments needed to achieve the SDGs, was also a central message to emerge from the High-Level SDG Financing Lab that I convened at the United Nations in April.

Among the key findings of the SDG Lab were that first, the financing needed to fund the SDGs already exists around the world, but global financial systems need to be aligned to sustainable development, with the right incentives and regulatory frameworks put in place to shift investments towards sectors that advance SDG implementation.

Achieving this requires the public and private sectors to work together to mitigate risk, scale-up investments, and to provide the financial and technical support needed so that countries have the capacity to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation, mobilize sustainable investments, and package their development needs into bankable projects that attract investors.

Second, for business, the SDGs already make economic sense, with estimates suggesting that SDG implementation has the potential to generate trillions of dollars in market opportunities.

However, despite the support for sustainable investments, the availability of financing, and the ongoing development of bankable and sustainable projects, there continues to be a market failure that hinders the flow of financing towards sustainable investment options. Unblocking this pipeline requires both the public and private sectors to work together.

A further key finding was that the United Nations has an important role to play by providing a platform to bring the public and private sectors together. There is much we can do to open up dialogue, bridge understanding of shared interests and goals, and catalyse new and innovative public-private partnerships.

Indeed, it is in this spirit that in two weeks’ time, the UN will host The Ocean Conference from 5-9 June, where transformative partnerships that drive action on the scale necessary to save the Ocean will be the central feature.

Among the key outcomes of the Ocean Conference will be registry of voluntary commitments to support implementation of SDG14 – the Ocean Goal. I am encouraging all partners to go to the website of The Ocean Conference, and register voluntary commitments for action. It is time to stand and be counted if you care about the future of life in the Ocean.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

If the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved in the next 14 years, it is vital that all stakeholders – starting with the UN system – break down entrenched silos, move past old grievances and skepticism, and join forces in developing and implementing new and inclusive ways of thinking, working, financing, and delivering on the ground.

And in this, public-private partnerships that serve our collective ambitions, and deliver on the universal promise of the SDGs, are a fundamental part of the solution to securing a sustainable future for us all. I wish you well in today’s session and look forward to hearing of its outcome.

I thank you for your attention.

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