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New Study on the Role of Business in Achieving MDGs


Once isolated from public and non-profit sectors, the private sector is now being welcomed into the development field as an essential engine for progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The rise of corporate social responsibility and the recognition that business and development objectives often coincide has placed companies at the heart of the struggle to raise living standards in emerging economies…

This report, entitled “Innovating for a Brighter Future: The Role of Business in Achieving the MDGs” and authored by Dalberg Global Development Advisors with support from the UN Global Compact Office, presents some of the most positive trends defining the private sector’s contributions to development. These trends offer lessons that can be applied across many industries and geographies as we try to achieve the MDGs, especially those MDGs that are far from being realized and could benefit enormously from the innovative input of the private sector. The entrepreneurial process has long been a central force behind economic and social development, and the expansion of the private sector can be a powerful lever for raising living standards.

But simply doing business to earn the greatest possible profits is not enough. Corporations must be responsible for the repercussions of their actions in ways that go beyond profit and loss. The United Nations has divided these actions into three areas:

  • Core business operations and the value chain;
  • Social investment and philanthropy; and
  • Advocacy and public policy engagement.

In all three, companies have devised innovative and effective strategies that have made meaningful contributions to development and can continue to do so as they are scaled up and replicated around the world. This report offers a series of case studies that can be used as models for all three areas of the pro-development agenda.

As partnerships intensify between the private sector, the United Nations, and other development actors, a willingness to learn from each other and exploit their diverse competencies will be a key to success; companies can often work around local constraints in ways that official agencies cannot. This report offers a practical guide to pursuing these initiatives and accelerating progress toward the MDGs.

To download the report, please click here.

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