A Milestone Year for Development

By Zahid Torres-Rahman, Founder and Director, Business Fights Poverty

A Milestone Year for Development

2015 is a milestone year in which the international community will set the development agenda for the next 15 years, most notably through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire this year.

We’ve had a long interest in the role business can play in delivering development goals – it’s a topic we continue to explore in ever more depth through our 2015 Series (now in its seventh year) and through our publications with Harvard Kennedy School’s CSR Initiative (view the full set of reports here).

I’m excited to announce the launch of a new Post-2015 engagement programme, in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development and Harvard Kennedy School’s CSR Initiative.

Our hope is to crowdsource expertise and insights from right across the Business Fights Poverty community. The programme will have a number of tracks:

  • Track 1: Workshops – Series of public convenings held in London, as part of our 2015 Series (now in its seventh year), together with a series of international convenings held around the world by our partners.
  • Track 2: Online Discussions – Series of online written discussions, Google Hangouts and twitter chats, as part of the 2015 Series.
  • Track 3: Informal Working Groups – Set of action-focused task forces that will bring together a small number of companies and development partners to tackle specific opportunities and challenges, related to the SDGs.
  • Track 4: Business Case Studies – Series of case studies that will explore practical lessons from specific examples of businesses contributing to SDG themes.
  • Track 5: Expert Analysis – Series of articles by leading thinkers and practitioners from across the Business Fights Poverty community.

The programme will focus on two broad themes: “Integrating the SDGs into business” and “Harnessing business to help deliver the SDGs”.

I’m delighted to say that to help us drive this programme, we have appointed Dr Diana Pallais as Business Fights Poverty Ambassador for Business and the SDGs.

Diana has most recently been the Managing Director and Interim VP, International Development at the global health NGO, PATH, overseeing the organisations global network of country-based programmes.

Prior to that, Diana spent over 14 years at the Microsoft Corporation, where she held several leadership roles in functions as varied as product development, sales, marketing, business development and corporate strategy. In her capacity as Managing Director of Worldwide Public Sector, Diana founded Microsoft’s commercially-viable public private partnership (PPP) initiative. This was an intrepreneurial success story where Diana pioneered a novel and sustainable way to connect with fresh consumer segments in emerging markets, and in the process also serve development objectives. Cross-sector partnerships were at the heart of the innovative go-to-market approach. The ultimate beneficiaries were the millions of underprivileged consumer segments who were able to purchase their first PC affordably and embedded in a tailored solution. But the virtuous circle also included wins for Microsoft as it expanded its addressable market with fresh customer segments, and the sponsoring governments that found that through expanded technology access they could deliver public services and public goods more effectively to low income constituents.

Diana is now an affiliate instructor with the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies where she is lecturing about partnerships and the intersection of business and development. She is originally from Nicaragua, and is now based in Seattle.

Talking about the role, Diana said:

“I still recall the challenges I faced when I was launching my intrepreneurial journey at Microsoft, bringing development impact into the mainstream of the business. Had Business Fights Poverty been available to me back then, my impact would have been amplified and change management efforts curbed. Cross-sector partnerships that result in germane double bottom line are still pioneering work; and pioneers never have enough company. It’s therefore my great pleasure to join this community and support the newer wave of pioneers define new opportunities for value creation and devise paths of least resistance to enable the change required.”

Our Post-2015 Programme will culminate with a high-profile event in New York in September to coincide with the SDG Summit, at which we will launch a report drawing together the rich and diverse content and insight gathered over the year. We will also hold a launch event shortly after in London. All content and engagement will be profiled on the Post-2015 Zone.

Over the coming weeks and months we will announce specific activities, and we would warmly welcome your engagement!

For more information on the Post-2015 Programme, contact us at te**@bu*******************.org.

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One Response

  1. 2015   is the defining moment for the sustainability of our one planet – The Earth, and we all have to brace up for the challenges ahead. We have an abiding responsibility to hand over the Earth a better place than we met it for the generations after us – safer, more secure ,more prosperous and more livable. This time, there should be more co-ordinated action targeted at deliverables.It is achievable!



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