Business goals and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can and actually do go hand in hand together. “Business for Goals Platform” (B4G), a unique example of a new generation platform-based partnership, bringing together UNDP and private sector entities to work together around the same table on issues of common destiny; future of our planet and its people. Established last February by a joint initiative of UNDP and pioneering Turkish business associations TÜRKONFED and TÜSİAD, B4G held its first workshop in Istanbul to set the compass for sustainable development agenda.

In our globalized world, economically interconnected as never before, challenges and opportunities go hand in hand. Global market developments, economic growth and recessions, currency fluctuations, international trade, investment and state of businesses worldwide shape and define our global and planetary wealth, and policies follow suite; from inclusive and sustainable development to health, education to energy, women’s empowerment to youth. We are not even talking about hunger, economic disparities, social injustice, conflicts, refugee crisis, climate change, natural disasters or complex emergencies…

In this more than ever complex yet interconnected economic and social landscape, more and more private sector companies recognize Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as levers not only for good reputation, corporate social responsibility or good corporate citizenship, but for innovation, growth, better governance and competitive performance for their businesses. If we are to achieve the SDGs by 2030, it is not even a question of whether to involve the private sector in development or not. It is rather a question of how to involve and work with. It’s the very question that how do we support companies to develop innovative business solutions where “business/market success” or “profit” oriented goals of the private sector, which are absolutely natural, not to be at odds with the objectives of inclusiveness and sustainability addressed in the 2030 Agenda. At the end of the day, private sector now is the driving force of our planet’s economic, societal and environmental shape, with privately owned business now generating more jobs, growth, income and innovation for billions of men and women, together with the expenses that all come together with the economic success and development.  

 

The first “Prioritization Workshop” to set the compass towards Agenda 2030

Well, these were the questions that members from the private sector and UNDP experts were discussing and seeking answers to address, together at the roundtables in Istanbul, on May 30th. Business for Goals Platform (B4G), established last February in Istanbul by UNDP, and Turkey’s two pioneering business associations gathering thousands of companies and business people under their umbrella,  TÜSİAD (Turkish Industry and Business Association) and TÜRKONFED (Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation) held its first “Prioritization Workshop” to set the compass towards Agenda 2030.

B4G, is a unique example of a new generation platform-based partnership, bringing together UNDP and private sector around the same table on issues of common destiny; future of our planet and its people. Through B4G, while the private sector brings an ability to quickly adapt, innovate and expand, together with the entrepreneurial spirit of the business world, UNDP, with its on-the-ground networks and more than 50 years of specialized knowledge and expertise, can pave the way for businesses to contribute to the SDGs. This partnership between UNDP and companies is perfectly positioned to bring new and innovative solutions that address some of the roadblocks and challenges we are facing in reaching the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda.

More than 70 members of the business community, coming from various sectors of Turkish economy, representing big Turkish business conglomerates, multinationals, family businesses of all size and SMEs joined UNDP experts on different tables to ask questions, discuss about pressing issues for sustainability agenda, and try to develop brand new ideas to face the challenges of our time through drawing a roadmap towards achieving the Goals by 2030.

Brainstorming sessions focused on jointly defined thematic areas, and discussions were moderated by senior UNDP executives on various issues; from climate change, to inclusive business practices, gender equality, responsible production and consumption. In fact, the workshop had been designed for B4G platform to determine its focus areas, core issues and annual work plan. Issues of discussion had been formulated around the respective SDG, a given development concept or a distinct policy area, that the platform would tackle in the coming period. Rapporteurs of each table registered discussions and touch points, together with the solution proposals on which UNDP and private sector could work together. Minutes of the discussions were turned into mini reports and fed into main moderators’ final report, which would turn out to be the basis for the annual work plan for B4G.     

 

Without the participation of the private sector, the Global Agenda for the SDGs cannot be achieved

Opening remarks of the workshop were made by Ms. Ümit Boyner, former TÜSİAD President (the first woman president to lead Turkey’s biggest and most influential business association) and current B4G President and Mr. Sukhrob Khojimatov, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative. Ms. Boyner underlined the value that the private sector can and should bring to the table in answering pressing issues that the humanity faces in 21st century, while Mr. Khojimatov pointed out how development related challenges shape our world and how a global response associating private sector, UN and national governments, together with civil society is necessary. Both however, emphasized that without the participation of the private sector, the Global Agenda for the SDGs cannot be achieved. Now generating most of the global income, growth and jobs and R&D when compared to a decade ago where the most of the global output and value used to be stimulated by the state owned enterprises or let’s say public sector; businesses from all around the world have now a seat at the table to participate and lead sustainable development agenda. On the other hand, and to be honest, with business practices, or product development, manufacturing, delivery, marketing, transporting, sales, human (Or “Talent”) resources or any other point in the chain of “From production to end-customer”, private sector actually do have a “Fair” responsibility to fulfil for economic and social justice and planetary health as well.        

At the workshop, group discussions were organized around 9 key themes, each led and moderated by key UNDP experts. These key themes were Leadership, Partnerships and Project Funding; Gender Equality at Work; Responsible Production and Consumption; Entrepreneurship (Breakthrough innovation, Social entrepreneurship, Women entrepreneurship), Company resilience, Integration of refugees and their employment, Environment and Climate Change: Energy- Water- Chemical Waste Management; SMEs and Competitiveness. Each topic was stimulated by three questions and sub questions to feed into discussion; whether or not, the specific issue is at the agenda of the company (And how? Through which practices or policy?), for the business world, which aspect of the issue should immediately be tackled at policy/advocacy level (And action points for further steps) and finally, what B4G platform can do to achieve these goals. Discussants determined action points on each key theme, areas of further improvement and drew a roadmap for the platform with the issues to pave the way forward to correlate with and achieve the SDGs.  

Business for Goals Platform in Turkey is the first collective action of private sector to promote SDGs and establish partnerships. B4G is a platform-based approach to deepen responsible engagement with the private sector and working with Government, to mobilize private sector resources for domestic investments in the Sustainable Development Goals in accordance with national development priorities.

TÜSİAD, TÜRKONFED and UNDP work together under this initiative, to execute research, studies and dialogues to enhance the private sector’s role for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

For our planet and its people…

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