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Ending Poverty through Partnership
Back in 2000, the international community took the unprecedented step of setting itself some ambitious goals to tackle world poverty. With only a few years left to meet these Millennium Development Goals, much has been achieved but much remains to be done. While it is right that we do everything in our power to ensure that as many of those goals can be met by the original deadline of 2015 -we still have some 1,000 days to make a difference- we must also start to explore what the Post-2015 development framework will look like.
I was honoured to be asked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to join the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Framework, set up last September to advise him on what a new set of goals might look like. Along with Betty Maina, the CEO of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers, and the other Panel members, I have been keen to ensure appropriate emphasis is placed on the important role business can play in shaping and delivering the new framework.
We have met three times – in New York, London, Monrovia and, most recently, in Bali. We will deliver our final report to the UN Secretary General by the end of May. Along with a range of complementary processes underway, including the intergovernmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and an extensive country-level consultation process being led by UNDP, our report will play a role in shaping what I hope will be an ambitious agenda.
One of the key strengths of the MDGs is their simplicity, their clarity and their measurability. The Post-2015 Agenda should also propose a set of goals which are few in number, easy to understand and measurable. It is just as important that each goal should be accompanied by a clear recommendation indicating who is responsible for delivering it and how. Any new framework should go beyond a mere set of priorities to become a clear plan of action for the world.
So what should the new framework focus on? The vision of the High-Level Panel is that poverty can be eradicated in our time. It is an inspiring vision, and one that I believe should remain at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. This means building on the big social targets (such as hunger, water, health and education) set out in the original MDGs. At the same time, the framework must recognise that the best way of bringing people out of poverty is through economic development – which in turns requires governments creating the right conditions for business to flourish. We should promote and strengthen transparency, anti-corruption efforts, participation, and accountability in government action. There should be a clear recognition of (and a target reflecting) the importance of addressing the jobs agenda, and this in turn means supporting the development of SMEs.
Alongside a strong focus on poverty, we must also address the questions of inequality – weaving it as a thread that runs throughout all goal areas – education, nutrition, healthcare, and so on.. Extreme poverty can only be eradicated if we respect the earth’s planetary boundaries. Food and water shortages, energy scarcity and climate change hit the poorest first, and hardest. If we don’t repect the environmental boundaries in which we live, we risk many of the past and future gains on poverty being reversed.
Throughout the Panel’s conversations in London, Monrovia and Bali we have all put an emphasis not just on WHAT the Post 2015 goals should look like but HOW they will be delivered.
When we have spoken about “the HOW” the idea of Public Private Partnerships has often been raised.
As members of Business Fights Poverty will recognise, many of the challenges which face us – food security, water scarcity, health, sanitation, education – are so complex and multi-dimensional that it is impossible for any one country or company, how ever large, to tackle them alone.
We are all finding that to deliver the right results at both scale and speed we have to build coalitions and work collaboratively.
The problem is that partnerships are very easy to talk about in concept but hard to make work in practice.
But rather than partnerships being a standalone goal, as it was in the original MDGs, I believe they should be considered as an enabler of each target.
We’ve put together a short video that presents some examples of the best partnerships to try and convey the ambition, scale and impact that partnerships are already having in the world. The film also highlights some newer ones with big ambitions. Examples include: Sustainable Energy for All; The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation; Scaling Up Nutrition; Every Woman, Every Child; Grow Africa; Lifebuoy in Indonesia; 2030 Water Resources Group; Tropical Forest Alliance; MPesa telephone banking in Kenya; and Coca-Cola’s distribution networks in Africa.
We have the opportunity in the coming months to set out an ambitious agenda for making this world a better place. But perhaps even more importantly, we have the responsibility to be bold about forming new coalitions to deliver on this vision.
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