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Third UN Private Sector Forum Held to Promote Private Sector Role in Achieving MDGs


Chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Private Sector Forum convened approximately 300 Heads of State and Government, Chief Executive Officers, Civil Society Leaders and Heads of UN Agencies during the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)..

The 2010 UN Private Sector Forum aimed to identify effective ways and means to accelerate progress towards reaching the MDGs by 2015 and to stimulate action towards this target; identify concrete actions the private sector can take (individually and in collaboration with the public sector) to help close implementation gaps over the next five years; provide a platform for the business community to share actions they have taken towards the achievement of the MDGs, communicate recommendations to governments and announce new partnerships between business and the UN in support of the MDGs; and highlight ways in which governments can facilitate further business engagement for development.

Some of the key messages that emerged from the 2010 UN Private Sector Forum included the following:

  • While some notable progress has been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, success remains very uneven. Bridging the gaps that still exist within the remaining five years will require a concerted effort by all, including the private sector as the most critical driver of innovation, investment and job creation.
  • Companies everywhere must conduct business in a responsible manner that is aligned with fundamental environmental and social values. In addition, the private sector was called upon to think of new and creative ways to capitalize on innovations, products and services to benefit the poor.
  • Increasingly, the private sector is recognizing that working with and investing in pro-poor business models can bring about thriving markets. Companies around the world have introduced numerous profitable innovations to provide poor communities with access to health care, clean water, sanitation, communication technology or financial services. Likewise, new public–private partnerships and initiatives seek to improve access to education, empower women and eliminate gender inequalities.
  • If the global community is to stand a chance of achieving all MDGs by 2015, the time has come to bring these many promising innovations, initiatives and partnerships to scale. This will require a retooling of standard business models and the willingness to make significant and long-term investments.
  • If market-based solutions are to be brought to effective scale, government support will be of critical importance to establish a sound enabling environment, including regulatory frameworks that uphold property rights, accelerate entry to the formal economy and root out corruption; capacity building and access to finance, in particular for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); securing the necessary investments into core infrastructure, such as roads, energy systems, telecommunications and ports; and promoting a fair, competitive and non-discriminatory global market.

The Forum maximized interaction between participants. All attendees were seated at tables of 10 leaders from business, civil society, government and the UN. Following the opening address by the Secretary-General, remarks by the two government sponsors of the event, and the luncheon keynote, participants engaged in thematic discussions on one of the following areas: (i) poverty and hunger; (ii) maternal and child health and HIV/AIDS; (iii) access to education through innovative ICT; (iv) innovations for financial inclusion; (v) empowering women and achieving equality; and (vi) green economy.

During the thematic discussions, participants explored how to advance business solutions on the following themes:

1. Poverty and Hunger
We have within our reach the capability to end world hunger, increase food security, and improve agricultural productivity in developing countries. The private sector has an important role to play in leveraging its ingenuity, drive and efficiency to make abundant, safe and nutritious food accessible to all. This discussion focused on how the public and private sectors can collaborate to find solutions to reduce hunger and poverty
Lead UN Agencies: WFP, FAO, IFAD

2. Maternal & Child Health & HIV/AIDS
Numerous private sector interventions and initiatives in the area of health focus specifically on how supply chain management, commodities, communication tools and financial resources are successfully improving maternal and child health and delivering results against HIV/AIDS. This discussion examined the challenges, incentives and key success factors of these partnerships, and how they can be replicated and brought to scale to achieve the health-focused MDGs.

3. Access to Education through Innovative ICT
With 72 million children not in school and learning achievements below par in many countries, innovative information and communication technologies (ICT) offer new approaches to reaching girls and boys who are excluded and/or subject to multiple deprivations. This discussion focused on how the private sector can contribute to enhancing the relevance, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality of teaching and learning activities.
Lead UN agencies: UNICEF, UNESCO

4. Innovations for Financial Inclusion
Financial inclusion and innovation in financial products play an essential role in reaching the MDGs, helping to generate additional resources, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of development spending, and creating access to finance and basic services in health and education. This discussion examined how governments, business, and multilateral institutions can work together to help the poor to build assets, increase incomes and reduce their vulnerability to economic stress and how stronger partnerships can exploit the potential of financial markets and reduce market uncertainties for the private sector.
Lead agencies: World Bank, IFC

5. Empowering Women and Achieving Equality
All stakeholders must work together to ensure the inclusion of women’s talents, skills, experiences and energies to build strong economies, establish more stable societies and achieve internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights. This discussion centered on policies, actions and tools to bolster the business contribution to promoting gender equality and empowering women.
Lead UN agencies: UNIFEM, UNDP, UNOP with the Global Compact Office

6. Green Economy
As a dynamic driver of the transition to a green economy, the private sector plays a critical role in linking economic and social development through sound environmental management and the investment in and application of emerging technologies. This discussion focused on exploring opportunities for all stakeholders to collaborate in a way that meets global energy and resource needs and spur sustainable growth while safeguarding the environment and addressing climate change. Detailed Information.
Lead UN agencies: ILO, UN DESA, UNEP, UNF with the Global Compact Office
Carbon-Neutral Forum

All executives were encouraged to use the 2010 UN Private Sector Forum to make new commitments to advance progress on the MDGs. Concrete collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential if we are to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Corporate commitments made in conjunction with the Forum were shared widely. A summary of these commitments was circulated to Heads of State and Government as well as to the press.

About the UN Leadership Forum

As a result of the success of the 2008 UN Private Sector Forum on the Millennium Development Goals and Food Sustainability, the Secretary-General has decided to hold the Forum on an annual basis during the General Assembly debate so the voice of the private sector can contribute to inter-governmental negotiations. In 2009 the second UN Private Sector Forum was held under the title: the UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change. The 2010 Forum was organized by the UN Global Compact Office in collaboration with an unprecedented number of UN agencies, funds and programmes: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Foundation (UNF), United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Bank, and the World Food Programme (WFP).

For more information, please contact Melissa Powell, UN Global Compact Office.