UN Makes Four Suggestions for engaging Business in Multilateralism

A report on the UN’s interaction with the private sector has been released by the UN Secretary-General. It makes four proposals for improving the impact of the UN system’s commercial ties, as well as better measuring and communicating their effects. 

On September 8, 2021, the Secretary-General issued a report titled “Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector: Report of the Secretary-General” as document A/76/319. 

The report builds on a previous report, Resolution 73/254, in which the United Nations General Assembly made suggestions to improve this cooperation.  

It suggested forming more innovation-based partnerships that harness fundamental private-sector competencies and technologies; moving away from donation-based partnerships and toward more strategic business collaborations; expanding opportunities for engaging micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises for greater local impact; connecting and convening wider ecosystems of actors; and increasing the focus on multi-stakeholder partnerships, which agencies expect to more than double in number in the next three to five years. 

Following significant progress in implementing those suggestions, the newest report concludes that more efforts are needed to realize more networked and inclusive multilateral collaboration. They have the potential to lead the system toward more inclusive and networked international collaboration if pursued further. 

Other findings in the Secretary-report General’s include: partnerships with the private sector are becoming more strategic throughout the UN system, with a focus on innovation, scalability, and impact; there is “significant untapped opportunity” to mobilize a more diverse range of actors and new coalitions; corporate interest in allocating resources to the SDGs through partnerships has increased; and the UN system has experienced “noticeable growth” since 2017, in engagement with national and local-level enterprises; there are at least 3,200 private sector partnerships in the works across the UN system, a two-fold increase from 2017; This figure continues to be dominated by bilateral partnerships. 

The report recommends stepping up efforts to create multi-partnership relationships that persist for a long time and can “more systematically capture results and learnings.” 

In conclusion, the report suggested that Multi-stakeholder partnerships are embraced by Member States to address current and potential life-threatening crises, particularly cross-border challenges such as climate change and ocean protection. 

Across its entire value chain, the private sector prioritizes the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and negative biodiversity impacts while maintaining the highest levels of environmental integrity. 

Member states can promote responsible innovation and technology leveraging for long-term development. 

The UN Global Compact has developed a strategy for 2021-2023 that aims to achieve five “strategic shifts”: stronger corporate accountability, balanced growth of local and regional networks for global coverage, measurable impact anchored by the Ten Principles, and harnessing the collective action of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a targeted and cross-cutting programme for such enterprises that leverages digital tools and value chains to reacquaint them with the Ten Principles. 

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