Sunday, 4 August 2013

The private sector's role in poverty-reduction, development and peace

Development policymakers and practitioners are discovering this thing called the private sector, while business leaders are becoming more fluent in developmental issues.

Many observers are cynical. Much remains at the level of rhetoric. Much of the interest is a by-product of development aid austerity. But although it matters what motivates various actors (and until history ends with some universal consensus about how best to develop peacefully, sustainably and equitably) this current trend of debate is overwhelmingly a good thing.

The theme of this week's 10th Brookings roundtable on global poverty (albeit held rather ironically in Aspen, Colorado) is the role of the private sector in the new global development agenda, that is, the macro-framework to replace the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Next month, the annual UN Secretary-General's 'Private Sector Forum' during the opening session of the UN General Assembly will consider the same topic -- the role of the private sector in shaping and delivering the post-2015 development agenda, this time with a focus on Africa.

This short post just provides a flick to recent previous ones I've done discussing this topic: see in particular here and here on the private sector and the post-MDGs.

Other posts include: the residual tendency to ignore the private sector when defining who counts as a 'stakeholder' in peace, security or development -- see here; thoughts on why development colleagues should be so surprised that the private sector might have a role in their world -- here; and the new pragmatism about the private sector's role that is evident in this decade -- here.

The trend is gathering strength. On the topic I follow particularly closely -- the private sector's role in peacebuilding -- the UN system was largely silent until very recently. A UN forum (see long video) on the issue in June marks a growing recognition of the need to engage with business in building more peaceful, prosperous, inclusive societies. It is good to talk -- although one is often tempted to say 'less activities, more actions'.


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