The proposed Common Approach aims to harmonise practices for private sector engagement across the UN system
Dear members and partners,
The UN Secretary-General has tasked the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) to develop a unified approach to partnerships with the private sector, concentrating on facilitating funding together with joint efforts in support of the SDGs. To this end, an inter-agency task team of UN organisations was set up to develop a Common Approach to Due Diligence for Private Sector Partnerships. The proposed Common Approach is a synthesis of current UN practice for private sector engagement, and aims to increase harmonisation, efficiency and transparency across the UN by reaffirming common guiding principles. The Common Approach does not supersede policies which member States have negotiated and approved through governing bodies.
The inter-agency task team agreed on a final document (please see the "Resources" section), which will be presented to ECOSOC in mid-April and then sent to all UN Agencies.
There are concerns with both the content and process of the common approach.
With regards to process:
- No proper consultation of the private sector took place and member States were even not informed about this undertaking.
- There is no proper process of adopting the Common Approach.
With regards to content:
- Tobacco is listed as one of the exclusionary criteria to engage with the UN entities. As a common standard, UN organisations will not engage in partnerships with companies falling under the exclusionary criteria. However, in exceptional cases, interactions are possible, as for instance when the engagement relates to issues linked to human and workers' rights.
- UN organisations, when engaging with companies, should promote the UN Global Compact. UN Global Compact members should be regarded as preferred partners.
- Possibly the development of a common due diligence database, to be used for the collection of external validated information on companies for opportunity-spotting and risk assessment.
The IOE has determinedly engaged with some of the key actors responsible for developing the Common Approach. We ensured that an accidental list of high risks sectors was removed from the document. The IOE will follow-up on this dossier within ECOSOC as well as the ILO Governing Body.
Please do not hesitate to contact me in case you have any questions.