Dünya Meslek Odalari Kongresi


Opening remarks by

Mahmood Ayub

UN Resident Coordinator/Resident Representative of UNDP

Venue: Istanbul Lütfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Centre


Mr Chairman,
Distinguished Private Sector Representatives
Honourable Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere thanks, on behalf of myself and on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme that I represent in Turkey, for being invited to this very important Congress, being hosted by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB). You will agree with me that the choice of the venue for this important event is absolutely perfect: Istanbul, the beautiful city that links continents and cultures in an incomparable way, and that is one of the major business centers of the world.

The  United  Nations  has  long  recognized  the vital role of the private sector  in  contributing  effectively to sustainable and equitable growth at the global  and  national levels.

We  believe  that  the  private  sector has a critically important role to play,  through  its  financial  and technical support, in the achievement of the Millennium  Development  Goals.

As you know these goals, are a set of time-bound development targets agreed to by 191 world leaders at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit in New York. These goals, in their essence, commit to reducing poverty by half by 2015 while also addressing significant national and global shortcomings related to health, education, and environment.

Importantly, the Millennium Development Goals also establish a framework for global partnerships and better harmonization of the efforts of governments, international organisations and private sector, recognizing the enormity of the challenge the goals present.

There is now mounting empirical evidence that an important pre-requisite for successful poverty reduction is a high and sustained economic growth rate.

However,  it  is  also well-documented that such growth should be shared growth, resulting  in higher productive employment, improving the lives of the poor, the disadvantaged and  the  marginalized,  and  which  provides  learning  and  skill development, and brings   market-based  solutions  to  pressing  social  and environmental needs.  

A key success factor for effective Public Private Partnerships is clarity in the roles of the government and of the private sector.

For governments, the challenge is to find ways to fulfill their responsibility for ensuring that all citizens have access to basic services, while meeting the needs of private investors. This entails a new and often difficult transition for many governments, from provider and managers of basic services to enabler and regulator, with focus on reducing administrative barriers to business entry, operation and exit, and—more generally—to reduce the costs of doing business.

For private firms, the challenge is to be convinced that investing in any particular project offers more attractive returns than in other available investment opportunities. Drawing that conclusion depends on the firm’s comparison of the potential returns against the potential risks, including both country risk as well as project risks.

In encouraging successful Public Private Partnerships, some important issues come to surface:    

Ø First, how to ensure that such partnerships do not bypass smaller population centres and more depressed regions in a country.

Ø Second, how to ensure that these partnerships do not ignore certain investments such as water and sanitation. For example the experience from Latin America indicates that   private   investment picked up 100% of investment needs in telecommunications,  and around  20-30  % of investment needs for electricity and transport, but less than 10% of investment needs in water and sanitation.

Ø Third, how should the institutional framework of Public Private Partnerships be organized to define the extent of central control  over  these partnerships  undertaken  by  sub-national governments?  At one end of the spectrum, countries such as Brazil and South Africa apply a high degree of central control over sub-national Public Private Partnerships. At the other end, in countries such as Australia and India, the national governments play a light role in provincial partnerships.

Ø And fourth, how to ensure that information on, and experience with, sustainable partnerships is available?

As the UN System in this country, we have important experience of close partnerships with the public and private sectors in Turkey in a variety of areas including the initiatives to empower disadvantaged youth, sustainable environment and water management, organic agriculture, sustainable tourism and digital inclusion.

It is a great pleasure for me to note that one of the major collaborations we enjoy is with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, the host of this Congress. Together with our partner institution TOBB we are involved in an effort to localize the Millennium Development Goals and to develop strategic solutions to address local development challenges. The project—through the leadership of TOBB—will promote “best practices” of partnerships between local governance actors and the business community for achieving Turkey’s development and MDG targets. It is a true testament to TOBB’s commitment to a democratic method of engaging the private sector in efforts to achieve the MDGs in meaningful and sustainable ways through the so-called Local Agenda 21 City Councils.           

TOBB’s cost-sharing contribution to the project will establish an MDG Fund for the Business Community, to support small-scale projects developed in partnership with chambers and commodity exchanges and local City Councils with an anticipated catalytic effect in addressing specific MDGs. We have several other such partnerships with private companies in Turkey, both domestic and foreign companies.

Before I conclude, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me also draw your attention to a partnership framework introduced by the UN, called the Global Compact, as a way to address the widening gap between the outcomes of globalization and the needs of humanity. The Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that businesses can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalization. It asks the private companies to embrace ten principles such as the protection of human rights and association rights, and elimination of discrimination and child labour at work place, and protection of environment.

It is noteworthy that to date, over 4,800 companies have signed on to the Global Compact as an expression of their commitment to the principles of the Compact. Several of these participants have established public private partnerships on the way to adopting Global Compact principles. Many companies, around the world now, are very well aware that their business interests increasingly overlap with development objectives; and responsible business practices and cross-sector partnerships are more important than ever. As a result, embedding universal principles in the global marketplace leads to greater and economic inclusion.

Coincidentally, the Global Compact is convening its triennial Leader Summit today and tomorrow in Geneva, where top executives of hundreds of global companies are meeting to discuss and develop strategic frameworks to address a range of issues at the nexus of business and society - including climate change, human rights, anti-corruption, and access to finance and capital.

Let me conclude by wishing you all a fruitful discussion of the many operational and policy issues that are at the heart of the Public Private Partnerships debates.

Thank you.

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