Road to Rio: Partnering for the sustainable future we want | Sigrid Kaag

10 Apr 2012

Two women and men in Mali grinding with a multi-functional platform Installation of diesel-fueled engines in Mali was a joint partnership of the governments of Mali, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNDP, as well as other partners. Photo: UNDP

When world leaders, NGOs, the private sector and others meet in Rio this June to discuss how to achieve a future we want, "sustainable development" will be the buzz word. But what does it actually mean and how can we achieve sustainable development?  Development that is truly sustainable must include economic, environmental and social aspects. It is paramount for the international community to forge strong partnerships with all parts of society to build a greener and more inclusive world. 

But how can the international community establish successful collaborations between governments, the private sector and civil society to achieve the sustainable future we all want? Here are some possible solutions:

- We need to focus on collaborations where there is a real, deep interest and rationale for the private sector to engage. Their engagement needs to be more than  philanthropic.

- With support from the United Nations, governments and public organizations need to set policy frameworks and provide incentives for businesses to take action.

- The United Nations can also help with systemic topics leading to large-scale investments, such as technology innovation or setting new rules and standards.

- Finally, the UN can support large-scale change by establishing collaboration platforms and networks that stimulate broad collective action.

Some United Nations initiatives already incorporate these considerations, such as a new UN Partnership Facility that could be announced by the Secretary-General in Rio. This collaboration platform would show that the UN is open for business as well as general engagement with the private sector.

The United Nations' Sustainable Energy for All campaign is another specific effort where public-private cooperation is central for building a sustainable future. The campaign sets important global targets for energy access and energy efficiency by 2030, which will have a transformative impact on economic development as well as social and environmental dimensions. As part of this effort, UNDP has started bringing together the government, the private sector and other key actors in countries like Kenya and Ghana to define priorities and establish investment plans for the provision of sustainable energy for all citizens.

The Rio+20 summit provides the international community with an opportunity to involve governments, NGOs as well as the private sector in finding solutions for a sustainable future together. Let's all make sure we seize it.

Let me know your thoughts: How can the international community partner with the private sector and civil society to build a sustainable future for all?

“Road to Rio” is a series of posts by senior officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), outlining some of the key challenges around human development central for achieving the sustainable future we want.

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