United Nations system: private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The UN Joint Inspection Unit has completed its report on the United Nations system: private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It clearly does not go far enough in the due diligence recommendations. It does suggest a role for rating systems of companies as an outside commentary on companies which the UN could use. "Organizations also note there are obvious benefits stemming from external due diligence assessments, and that the United Nations system should continue to engage private sector companies that specialize in rating the sustainability of prospective United Nations partner companies based on their environmental, corporate and social performance (including on human rights)." This could be very important if the organization uses the Corporate Benchmark on Human Rights and the work of the World Benchmarking Alliance. I share the recommendations as a whole below and the full report can be read here.
Recommendation 1
The General Assembly of the United Nations should consider a review of the “Guidelines on a Principle-based Approach to the Cooperation between  the  United Nations and the Business Sector”, with a view to reflecting the changes needed to bring about the increased contribution expected  from  the  private sector in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda  for  Sustainable  Development and their system-wide implications, based  on  a  report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be submitted during the seventy-third session of the General Assembly. The review should take into account an updated common interpretation of Assembly resolution 92 (I),  entitled  “Official Seal and  Emblem of the United Nations”, shared by the network of legal advisers from all United Nations organizations that are members of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
Recommendation 2: A set of rules and operational guidelines for partnerships with the private sector
The Secretary-General of the United Nations should propose, after prior consultation with all participating organizations, a set of operational rules and guidelines designed to match the specific needs of the partnerships with private sector  entities,  allowing for  greater  flexibility,  simplification of   procedures and speed in reaction. The proposals of the Secretary-General should be submitted to the General Assembly, at the latest during its seventy-fourth session (2019–2020).
Recommendation 3: brokering partnerships and providing advice
The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the heads of United Nations system organizations, assisted by the United Nations Global Compact, should coordinate and streamline a unique, system-wide package  of  information about the opportunities for partnerships offered to the  private  sector  by  the  Sustainable Development Goals, for the benefit of interested organizations.
Recommendation 4: streamlining responsibilities within the United Nations Secretariat
Within his current reform initiatives, the  Secretary-General  of  the  United Nations should review, streamline, clarify and strengthen the division of  labour and the specific lines of responsibility and accountability within various departments of the Secretariat, in particular the mandate of the United Nations Office for Partnerships “to provide advice on, guide and facilitate partnership events and initiatives in support of the Sustainable Development Goals ”.
Recommendation 5: enhanced role for the Private Sector Focal Points Network
The heads of United Nations organizations should enhance the role and responsibilities of the Private Sector Focal Points  Network  with  regard  to  sharing knowledge, promoting  good  practices  and  finding  innovative  solutions to problems related to partnerships with the private sector,  including  by entrusting them with specific tasks and agenda items on which to report.
Recommendation 6: a system-wide database
All heads of the United Nations system organizations, assisted by the United Nations Global Compact, should jointly create a common  database  on  the  profiles and performance of the businesses that are involved, or potentially interested, in partnerships with the United Nations, based on information voluntarily submitted by the participating organizations.
Recommendation 7: common standard procedures and safeguards for due diligence
The Secretary-General of the United Nations and all the executive heads of participating organizations should identify and agree on a minimum set of  common standard procedures and safeguards for an efficient and flexible due diligence process, to be applied system-wide in a transparent way by the United Nations operational staff engaged in the initiation and implementation of partnerships with the private sector.
23. Organizations welcome the proposed identification of a minimum set of common standard procedures and safeguards based on the understanding that, as indicated in the recommendation, organizations can retain the flexibility to develop specific and more sophisticated due diligence systems adapted to their organizational needs.
24. Organizations note that this recommendation aligns with the Secretary - General’s vision for strengthening system-wide integrity, due diligence and risk management as part of efforts to reposition the United Nations development system, and add that the United Nations Sustainable Development Group Results Group for Strategic Partnerships is currently addressing these issues.
25. Organizations also note there are obvious benefits stemming from external due diligence assessments, and that the United Nations syste m should continue to engage private sector companies that specialize in rating the sustainability of prospective United Nations partner companies based on their environmental, corporate and social performance (including on human rights).
26. Given the specific needs and objectives of United Nations system organizations with respect to private sector engagement, organizations note that adoption of a one - size-fits-all approach to procedures and/or safeguards will face considerable difficulties. For example, certain entities of the United Nations system ban partnering with certain sectors or companies, while others engage with them for the sake of the ultimate goal to be achieved through the partnership.
27. Further, while a common due diligence resource may have value for smaller organizations and those engaged in fewer private -sector partnership activities, organizations with a larger volume of activity and more complex partnerships must have the flexibility to manage and implement their own due  diligence arrangements in order to be able to respond readily to potential partnership opportunities, provided that their due diligence processes meet the minimum requirements.
Recommendation 8: revised mandate for the Global Compact
The General Assembly, based on a report by the  Secretary-General,  should  initiate a revision of the current mandate of the Global Compact, which should include, inter alia:
  • A clearer role of the Global Compact, at the global and national levels, in effectively engaging the business sector to  support  the  implementation  of the 2030 Agenda
  • An enhanced role for Member States in its governance structure
  • An updated definition of the relationship between  the  Global  Compact Office and the Foundation for the Global Compact, with  an  emphasis  on  the transparency of the Foundation’s fundraising activities
  • A clear definition of the relationship between the Global Compact headquarters and the Global Compact Local Networks
Recommendation 9
The Economic and Social Council should invite the Executive Secretaries of the regional economic commissions, if they have not already done so, to initiate and institutionalize a systematic and regular consultative dialogue with high-level representatives of private sector companies that contribute or have expressed interest in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Recommendation 10
The Secretary-General of the United Nations should encourage, in concertation with the executive heads of the Joint United Nations  Programme on  HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, the  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for  Refugees,  the  United  Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Office for Project Services and the World Food Programme and the executive heads of any other interested United Nations organizations with a presence in the field, a multi-stakeholder mechanism of consultations and solution-seeking at the country level, steered by the Resident Coordinator, in which the businesses are involved from the beginning  in  the  design of partnerships in support of the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development. Where such mechanisms initiated  by  Governments  exist,  the United Nations country teams should encourage multi-stakeholder participation.
Recommendation 11: coordination of innovation partnerships
The Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chair of the United  Nations  System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, and the executive heads of interested organizations, should build on existing and ongoing efforts and continue to empower the United Nations Innovation Network or other existing United Nations joint innovation initiatives to identify and discuss issues that are relevant for the coordination of the existing innovation initiatives, funds, labs, accelerators and incubators, and their interface with the private sector, with a view to facilitating and stimulating innovation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Recommendation 12: support for engagement by small and medium-sized enterprises
The Secretary-General should request the United Nations System Staff College Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, in cooperation with the International Trade Centre, to host a system-wide online platform to facilitate communication with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises on the 2030 Agenda, interaction among enterprises, information on access to funding, promotion of good practices and opportunities to engage with United Nations operations.


Comments

  1. GREAT INITIATIVE that can help speed up the pace of achieving success stories against the SDGs. I would like to take on all recommendations covering a geographic region from Vietnam to the Caspian Sea... My team of Rapid Responders will be capable to supporting global efforts based in Riverside, California. Budget estimates approaching $650,000 for initial staff salaries, benefits and allowances. Project budget can be tuned to individual country SDG planning....

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