Private sector and Agenda 2030: The devil is in the detail

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Private sector and Agenda 2030: The devil is in the detail

Summary

Three years after adoption of the sustainable development goals, it is important to delve further into details of some key challenges, including the focus on the role of the private sector in achieving Agenda 2030. Europe’s public and private sectors are eager to step up collaboration. Examples of great partnerships abound, especially for new infrastructure projects in Africa. But are these partnerships always benign and how can the best ones be accelerated?

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are one solution to channel more money into sustainable development. However they must be set up carefully and guided by international standards on procurement, the environment and society. This was the main conclusion of a Friends of Europe debate in Brussels on 20 November 2018, assessing how the private sector can facilitate the United Nations’ Agenda 2030.

“PPPs are ideal if well-structured, bankable, competitively tendered, and risk is shared,” said Paloma Perez de Vega, of the European Investment Bank. She explained how PPPs behind two new African solar energy plants will dramatically cut electricity costs.

The private sector is often a major partner for our development and humanitarian projects, noted Sean Maguire, an executive director at Plan International. But before joining such a partnership, these companies must sign up to the UN Global Compact’s 10 universal sustainability principles. He pointed to the wide variety of PPPs available, while acknowledging the difficulty of scaling up those for education and soft skills.

Trust is an essential ingredient for our Africa PPPs, but it takes time to build, explained Wouter Vermeulen, from The Coca-Cola Company.  “We want to grow the right way, not the easy way, so our long-term growth strategy includes sustainability goals for water, waste, and women’s empowerment.”

Governments increasingly turn to private companies and civil society for development projects, concluded the debate’s moderator, Shada Islam. So perhaps both these sectors should be viewed as ‘angels in the details’ – and not ‘devils’ – in these sometimes tricky-to-run partnerships.

Private Sector and Agenda 2030

About

About

This event is part of our Development Policy Forum (DPF), which brings together a number of important development actors, including the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the United Nations and the World Bank. Reflecting the growing role of the private sector in development, the DPF has now welcomed Coca-Cola and Eni to the forum. The DPF contributes to the global and European conversation on inclusive development. Through its activities and publications, the DPF reflects the rapidly-changing global debate on growth and development and seeks to encourage a multi-stakeholdered, fresh, up-to-date thinking on the multiple challenges facing the development community.


IMAGE CREDIT: Bigstock

Schedule

Schedule

Networking & registration
Private sector and Agenda 2030 – The devil is in the detail
Expand Private sector and Agenda 2030 – The devil is in the detail

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 requires synergetic partnerships between governments, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society. Making such coalitions work, however, is not easy. The role of the private sector as an engine for long-term sustainable development is increasingly recognised. But working with business is still relatively new for many development actors. The European Consensus on Development recognises the need to engage with the private sector, with focus being put on developing practical partnership arrangements that are collaborative, transparent and open for businesses, citizens and other stakeholders and which support sustainable and ethical business practices.

Yet, a persistent challenge, among others is the legacy of the negative social and environmental conduct of some private enterprises. Bureaucracy and corruption, cultural traditions and norms can also often hinder the implementation of development projects. As is often the case when partners are not used to working together, the “devil is in the detail” – and these details need to be identified, acknowledged and resolved.

  • What more is required from the private sector to make it a legitimate actor in implementing Agenda 2030?
  • What are the practical obstacles facing the public sector, the private sector and civil society as they seek to work together as development actors?
  • Are Public Private Partnerships as successful in practice as they look on paper?

Speakers

Sean Maguire

Executive Director of Global Influence and Partnerships at Plan International

Paloma Perez de Vega

Head of Division for Project Finance in Africa and the Neighbouring countries, European Investment Bank (EIB)

Wouter Vermeulen

Senior Director Sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company Europe

Moderator

Shada Islam

Managing Director at New Horizons Project

Speakers

Speakers

Sean Maguire
Sean Maguire

Executive Director of Global Influence and Partnerships at Plan International

Show more information on Sean Maguire

In his role as Director of Influence and Partnerships at Plan International, Sean Maguire drives an ambitious policy and advocacy agenda on girls’ rights and gender equality. Prior to this position, he covered several posts related to strategic communication in development, including serving as a reporter and then as editor responsible for all international affairs for Reuters where he covered much of the break-up of former Yugoslavia; UK spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross and  Head of News and Campaigns of the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Paloma Perez de Vega
Paloma Perez de Vega

Head of Division for Project Finance in Africa and the Neighbouring countries, European Investment Bank (EIB)

Show more information on Paloma Perez de Vega

Paloma Perez de Vega heads the Project Finance Division at the European Investment Bank (EIB). This Division provides structured loans and guarantees to private sector operations in the regions covered by the Global Partners and Neighbouring Countries Departments, with a priority focus on projects in Africa and the Middle East. She previously served as loan officer within EIB’s Near East, Maghreb and Project Finance Divisions, after having worked as credit risk officer at EIB for two years. Perez de Vega started her career in Deutsche Bank’s structured trade and export finance team.

Wouter Vermeulen
Wouter Vermeulen

Senior Director Sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company Europe

Show more information on Wouter Vermeulen

With over 25 years of experience in corporate social responsibility, public affairs and communications, Wouter Vermeulen has extensive knowledge of working directly with government, private sector and not-for profit organisations. Within the Coca-Cola Company, he currently holds the role of Senior Director Sustainability, responsible for driving the corporate sustainability agenda in Europe. Wouter started his career as spokesperson to the Belgian Minister for SME’s and Agriculture, André Bourgeois, and State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Réginald Moreels.

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