The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) along with eight other prominent organizations today issued a Joint Statement calling on governments to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by fostering inclusive business practices and models.
The Joint Statement was released during an officially sanctioned half-day forum at the United Nations MDG Summit in New York City. The forum featured leaders from companies, governments, international organizations, aid agencies and NGOs from around the world and highlighted the importance of expanding inclusive business models and practices as a key part of achieving the MDGs.
The MDGs are eight targets that aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation in developing countries by 2015, agreed upon by 189 states in 2000.
The Joint Statement notes that progress towards achieving the MDGs has been uneven and that much more work remains to be done if the goals are to be met in the time frame specified.
"Inclusive Business models harness the core competencies of business to respond directly to the needs of poor consumers or to build productive beneficial linkages with poor producers," the Joint Statement says. "By focusing on commercial viability, these models have a demonstrated inherent capacity to be scaled to engage thousands, and increasingly millions, of poor people."
"The WBCSD has provided thought leadership and gathered practical experience in promoting business solutions to sustainability issues in the developing world for over a decade," said Marcel Engel, Managing Director for WBCSD’s Development Focus Area. "As part of our work, we coined the term "Inclusive Business" to describe profitable business models that reduce poverty and generate sustainable livelihoods."
The Joint Statement explains concrete examples of how business, if given the necessary investment framework, can be a catalyst for social and economic progress. "We believe that business succeeds best in societies that thrive. We further believe the leading companies of the future will be those that do business in a way that addresses the major development challenges. Sustainably addressing the needs of the developing world represents a huge opportunity for business, given the long-term demand for investment, infrastructure, products and services it will trigger," the Joint Statement says.
Today’s forum was organized in a joint effort by WBCSD and the Business Call to Action, International Business Leaders Forum, Business Action for Africa, International Chamber of Commerce, United Nations Development Programme, The Global Compact, United Nations Office for Partnerships, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative.
The discussions underlined that business cannot develop these sustainable, market-based solutions to poverty challenges alone. The Joint Statement recommends collaborative action in the following areas:
- Promoting a fair and competitive global market that is non-discriminatory;
- Establishing regulatory frameworks that uphold property rights, accelerate entry to the formal economy and root out corruption;
- Providing capacity-building and general education;
- Facilitating access to finance and investment risk mitigation instruments, in particular for SMEs;
- Securing the necessary investments into core infrastructure, such as roads, energy systems, telecommunications and ports
The Joint Statement will be presented in tomorrow’s UN Private Sector Forum, which will be chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and will convene approximately 300 Heads of State and Government, Chief Executive Officers, Civil Society Leaders and Heads of UN Agencies.