The Role of Business in Ensuring Partnerships for the Goals
Partnership and cooperation are essential for achieving the Global Goals. The international community has encouraged the development of partnerships between stakeholders, including business, to achieve common goals. It is only by forging partnerships that leverage the core competencies of all partners that the ambition of the SDGs can be achieved.
Companies are major players among SDG stakeholders, offering expertise, experience, resources, access to knowledge, and capabilities to innovate. But, companies cannot create transformative change acting alone. Business may not fully take account of all voices and be aware of all areas of need; and they may not have access to the best available knowledge. To support the achievement of the SDGs in all countries, companies should work alongside national and regional Governments, multilateral organizations, civil society, the scientific community and academia, and their peers to participate in and establish multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources.
A leading company will create and promote stronger partnerships by galvanizing finance for sustainable development, fostering exchange of technology and knowledge with stakeholders in developing regions, engaging in capacity building activities, and taking a leading role in establishing coalitions to create innovative technologies and business models. A leading company will look across borders to find ways to increase partnerships for sustainable development, especially in least developed countries, and tackle systemic challenges through joint leverage. It will also ensure to include vulnerable communities that are at risk of being excluded from discussion. Such partnerships will be principles-based and needs-driven, build on local capacity, and reflect the undiluted values of the United Nations to ensure they are transparent, accountable, and inclusive.
State of Partnerships for the Goals among Corporate Malaysia
Partnerships are part of the 5Ps adopted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), along with people, prosperity, planet and peace. Malaysia’s progress is unevenly distributed across issues around these pillars. In 2019, it was stated that an area which is lacking in Malaysian SDG progress was business support for the SDGs. To address this issue, developing partnerships opportunities with non-governmental or non-profit organizations were adopted by companies in Malaysia to address the SDGs. For instance:
Grab has partnered with EcoMatcher to work with NGOs for planting trees, addressing SDG 15 (Life on Land). These trees will be planted in GrabForGood Forests, a designated space for carbon offsetting efforts, across Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. In Malaysia, trees will be planted by the Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC).
RHB Islamic Bank Berhad and WWF have partnered to launch Recycled Debit Cards made from plastic waste as an approach to ocean conservation. The debit card holders will also enjoy 10% discounts on WWF merchandise. This partnership addresses both SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
Sunway Berhad, Celcom Axiata Berhad and Huawei Technologies Sdn. Bhd. collaborated towards the development of smart township solutions in the areas of public safety and security, telehealth, e-learning, hospitality, leisure and retail experience using the latest telecommunications technology as they become available for Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, and future developments under Sunway. This tripartite collaboration addresses SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) in particular.
Do your actions satisfy leadership qualities?
Is your company committed to supporting the achievement of Goal 17? Have you developed a holistic strategy that reflects this commitment, covering end-to-end operation and the wider community?
Are you committed to learning from your actions and do you have processes in place to improve them accordingly?
Is your strategy supported by the highest levels of management, including the Board of Directors.
Do your actions achieve long-term outcomes that greatly exceed those resulting from current industry practice?
Are your actions aligned with what is needed to achieve Goal 17?
Is support for Goal 17 embedded across all organizational functions?
Are staff and board incentives aligned with achieving Goal 17?
Do you proactively look for opportunities to partner with Governments, UN agencies, suppliers, civil society organizations, industry peers and other stakeholders to inform how to advance Goal 17?
Do you publicly express your commitment to advance Goal 17?
Do you identify, monitor, and report on impacts, including potentially adverse impacts?
Do you mitigate risks associated with your action?
Do you remediate negative impacts associated with this action?
Do you engage stakeholders in a meaningful way?
Framework for Business Action
Business Action 1: Lead on partnerships to improve domestic resource mobilization through responsible tax practices
Governments require corporate tax revenues to advance the SDGs. At a minimum, businesses should comply with the tax laws and regulations in the countries in which they operate. They should adopt responsible tax practices, not engage in tax avoidance measures, and be transparent about their tax practices through country-by-country reporting. Going beyond this, companies can assume leadership on responsible taxation through partnerships with peers and Governments, responding to the need to create a just international taxation regime that minimizes tax avoidance, and by supporting developing countries through providing capacity building to small local businesses regarding tax payment.
An IT company establishes an initiative involving a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including government, taxpayers, NGOs and accountants, to develop a platform that can be used to collect, file and disburse tax revenue
Business Action 2: Galvanize private sector finance to support sustainable development initiatives in developing countries
Companies can be sustainable development partners in developing countries, galvanizing private sector finance for investment including in infrastructure, essential services, and growing businesses while supporting a reduction in financial flows to unsustainable activities that, for instance, violate human rights or damage the environment. Partnerships for private sector finance can involve SMEs and large enterprises in all sectors, including, but not limited to, the financial sector. Along with financial resources, leading companies in such partnerships typically bring expert knowledge, skills, and access to advanced technologies. Foreign investments can also enable domestic industries to access international markets, linking them with multinational enterprises in the global value chain. The partnerships can contribute to addressing gaps in reporting of environmental and social risks, which is essential information for allocating finance to sustainable businesses.
An investment bank leads an initiative under which it provides and facilitates green finance, including green project bonds, green asset-backed securities, and philanthropic funds as catalytic first-loss capital to promote investment in energy access. As part of the initiative the bank partners with the international initiatives and commercial and development finance institutions to raise $100m to help provide clean cooking solutions to millions of households in the developing world.
Business Action 3: Lead on partnerships to develop and share new and existing technology, knowledge, and business models for sustainable development
The scale of the world’s sustainable development challenges requires strong partnerships of companies and relevant stakeholders to develop and share solutions for addressing them. These partnerships are key for wide deployment of technology, knowledge, and business models for sustainable development across all countries.
A local telecommunications company also partnered with UNICEF and the government registration agency to put in place a system of birth registration
Business Action 4: Build regulatory, organizational, and staff capacity in developing countries
Companies can promote sustainable development through partnerships with developing country stakeholders to build local capacity. Capacity building can help close skills and institutional quality gaps. Such partnerships can equip employees and suppliers with knowledge and skills; support the development of organizational capacity of supply chain companies, public sector, and civil society counterparts; and facilitate the development of legal and regulatory frameworks.
A multinational company provides comprehensive training and capacity building among the SMEs in its supply chain, which includes training on ways to incentivize responsible business conduct.
Business Action 5: Lead on partnerships that address systemic challenges for achieving the SDGs
Collaboration is a key quality of all leadership on the Goals. But there is a range of deep systemic impediments to sustainable development that require inclusive, formalized, long-term partnerships that bring together and align critical drivers of change. Myriad systemic challenges that hold people back from realizing their human rights and development require such partnerships: child labour, poverty wages, denial of land rights, sexual violence, and discrimination are pertinent examples. Stewardship of our planet, including cross-border governance of natural resources, biodiversity, and the atmosphere, also requires these partnerships. Businesses can lead on partnerships addressing one or several systemic challenges by initiating, chairing, and/or making consistently significant contributions to them.
A garment manufacturer partners with peers and other stakeholders to create an independent, legally binding agreement with trade unions, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, designed to work towards a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready-Made Garment Industry. Its purpose is to enable a working environment in which no worker needs to fear fire, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures
Action on Goal 17 and thereby advancing all Global Goals, is essential for business success. There are significant revenue opportunities and cost savings from business practices that integrate respect and support for human rights and protection of the planet. These can be harnessed more fully in collaboration with other stakeholders. Partnerships facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge and technologies that allow for enhanced risk management, value protection, and identification of joint business opportunities.
Goal 17 is deeply interconnected with all other SDGs. Unlike the other Goals which deal with specific thematic areas, Goal 17 is cross-cutting and can help in the realization of the other 16 Goals. Care should be taken to ensure that action to further partnerships and collaboration is inclusive and does not reinforce existing inequalities by further excluding particular groups. Where partnerships spur new economic activity, any risk of negative impact on the environment, on human rights, for instance those of indigenous peoples, should be managed.