Advancing partnerships for the SDGs
Roberto Suárez Santos
Multilateral cooperation was the focus of the recent IOE-USCIB-ICC All In Roundtable, which featured high-level speakers from business, governments and multilateral institutions.
IOE member the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), together with IOE and the International Chamber of Commerce, held the first Roundtable discussion of the All In Campaign in Geneva on 8 May.
How can cooperation between the business community and multilateral institutions be improved? What can business and international organisations do together to boost inclusive multilateralism and contribute to achieving the SDGs? These were some of the issues discussed during the lively debate in Geneva.
The ILO Director-General Guy Ryder opened the roundtable offering his assessment on the current climate for inclusive multilateralism. According to him it is in crisis due to three main factors: loss of trust due to perceived past failures of multilateral initiatives; multilateralism is seen as undermining national sovereignty; and the institutions involved in it are viewed as elitist. IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suárez Santos explained that the only way to achieve the SDGs was for more collaboration between the UN, the employers’ organisation and business at large.
Participants agreed that the best way forward was to streamline UN bureaucracy around partnerships. Darian Stibbe, Executive Director of the Partnering Initative, drove this point home by looking at the qualitative side: "There is too much partnering between UN and business with not enough value being created. For business, the UN system is too complex. How can we expect companies to navigate the vast UN system with different procedures, different funding channels and competing priorities?"
The All In Campaign is an initiative bringing policymakers and global businesses together in key UN cities to begin a global conversation on opportunities for inclusive engagement with businesses from all industry sectors. Peter Robinson, CEO and President of USCIB describes the campaign’s aspiration: "All too often in recent years, we have seen the public and private sectors set against each other in international forums. We need to move beyond this, so that we can, together, tackle important global challenges like climate change, public health and nutrition, human rights and many others."