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Black Tie International:
Business and the United Nations
Photos and Article by: Blacktiemagazine/GMK
Business and the United Nations

 Tonye Cole, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Sahara Group, Graham Baxter, Senior Advisor, Business Fights Poverty, Michael O’Neill, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, Paloma Duran, Director, Sustainable Development Goals Fund, Maria Emma Mejia, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Puvan J. Selvanathan, Head, ITC Office to the United Nations in New York and Gustav Lovén, Global Social Sustainability Manager, H&M.
Business and the United Nations

Business leaders, government officials, UN delegates and representatives
 from civil society attended a launch event for the
Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F)
 new report, 
Business and the United Nations: Working together towards the
Sustainable Development Goals: A framework for Action”
which was produced with Harvard Kennedy’s School CSR Initiative and Business Fights Poverty to examine deeper engagement by the private sector in development.

Unlike other narratives, this report offers a unique private sector perspective to provide insight and practical advice on how companies can address the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and at the same time work on stronger co-creation and collaboration on development issues with other development actors, including
the United Nations.

The SDG-F report is groundbreaking in that it builds on lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, as well as works to engage the private sector in the discussion of what works, what needs to change, and how the international development community must adapt. This includes taking into account a set of recommendations that offer a different perspective, critical to creating projects that will be more sustainable and lasting for the ambitious goals approved by the UN General Assembly this September. “Companies want more transparency and a way to simplify the UN engagement process, and foster a two-way dialogue, especially at the country-level”, said
 Paloma Duran, Director of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund.

Ambitious development agenda requires new types of partnerships

It is estimated that achieving the SDGs will require $3.3-4.5 trillion a year. As such, the scale of the new development goals sees business as part of the solution and offers a clear imperative for action. The report’s findings suggest that companies want to be brought earlier into the planning and co-creation phase of development projects and would welcome clearer transparency in both the design and exploration of opportunities in the field. The report indicates that the UN can play an important role in sharing best practices and facilitating business engagement across sectors.

Included in the report are interviews with the SDG-F’s Private Sector Advisory Group which highlight the value of expanding multi-stakeholder collaboration and leveraging the complementary expertise of new actors. Inevitably, business matters for the SDG’s and vice versa. With this in mind, there is a need for UN agencies to create a clear entry point for country level collaboration and simplify the process for two-way business engagement, especially for purpose driven and system-level platforms.

Agenda for action: inspire, connect, equip

The report includes a clear agenda for action: Inspire-Connect-Equip. This section outlines what the UN can do to motivate and mobilize many more companies to get actively engaged in supporting the SDGs, how it can facilitate the process of business engagement with UN agencies and other delivery partners, especially at the country level with UN country offices and in exploring both core and hybrid models of development as well
 as impact measurement.

Uniquely, the SDG Fund is already investing in 21 countries engaging a wide variety of stakeholders. Created in 2014 by UNDP on behalf of the UN system to support sustainable development activities, it is the first SDG mechanism working to implement programs at the country level. The Fund works through joint programmes implemented by specialized UN agencies with national counterparts. With an initial financial contribution from the Spanish Government, the Fund currently has 22 additional donors.

In key areas such as food security and nutrition, the SDG-F brings together the expertise of varied UN agencies to offer more robust approaches to development with clear linkages to issues such as education, gender and economic development. The SDG Fund’s specialized methodology helps to overcome the limitations of the traditional one sector or “silo” approach to development initiatives.

The SDG-F focuses on three thematic areas for poverty eradication including, inclusive growth food security and nutrition, and water and sanitation to address some of the most important gaps in achieving progress towards the new development goals. Equally important, all SDG-F programmes embed three cross-cutting issues: sustainability, gender equality, and public-private partnerships.

Participating in the new development agenda will require greater collective action and understanding of the various dimensions of how the UN can actively engage more creatively with business and other partners. The SDG-F is actively working to shape this new ecosystem and facilitate new alliances with both the public and private sector with the aim of supporting new learning and using this report as a springboard to
 continue this important dialogue.

To link to the report click here: 
Business and the United Nations   

The Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) is a development cooperation mechanism created in 2014 by UNDP, on behalf of the UN system, with an initial contribution of the Government of Spain to support sustainable development activities through integrated and multidimensional joint programmes. It builds on the experience, knowledge, lessons learned, and best practices of the MDG experience, while expanding its activities towards sustainable development and a higher attention on public-private partnerships. Gender and women’s empowerment is a cross-cutting priority in all our areas of work.  Follow on twitter at @SDGFund

  • The SDG Fund was established in 2014 by UNDP, on behalf of the UN, with an initial contribution of the Government of Spain to support sustainable development activities through integrated and multidimensional joint programmes.
  • SDG Fund joint programmes in 18 countries are directly improving the lives of more than 1 million people.
  • SDG Fund joint programmes cover 3 key thematic areas: inclusive growth for poverty eradication, food security and nutrition, and water and sanitation.
  • For the implementation of its joint programmes, the SDG Fund builds on the lessons learned from the MDG Achievement Fund.
  • The participatory process to formulate joint programmes engaged around 2,000 participants from civil service and government, communities, international development agencies, and the private sector.
  • All programmes are joint programmes, meaning they bring together an average of 3 UN agencies in a collective effort. This strengthens the UN’s ability to deliver
    as one entity.
  • 12 different UN agencies and hundreds of national counterparts are involved in making the SDG Fund joint programmes a reality.
  • The SDG Fund also supports activities guaranteeing that lessons learned from achieving MDGs are incorporated in the new development agenda.
  • To better align public-private partnerships for sustainable development, the SDG Fund has established a Private Sector Advisory Groupformed by business leaders of major companies from various industries worldwide. 
  • The SDG Fund is fully committed to financial and programmatic transparency. All financial flows are updated through the MPTF financial reporting platform.
  • The SDG Fund programmes total budget is approximately USD $60 million. National and international partners provide approximately 55% of these resources in the form of matching funds.

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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