Local businesses can contribute to SDGs…through procurement and CSI

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Edgar Brandt

Windhoek-Estimates indicate that an investment of US$2 trillion to US$3 trillion a year will be required to realise the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) at the beginning of 2016, which all UN members subscribed to, including Namibia.

Yesterday, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) conducted a forum where businesses were encouraged to contribute to the SDGs.

The potential areas in which they could contribute include aligning their business operations, specifically their procurement budgets and corporate social investments, to activities that could have a maximum impact on the attainment of these SDGs, for which the UN has set a target date of 2030.

“The private sector is therefore urged to spend more of its procurement budgets on local suppliers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises as well as those in rural areas, where they make a significant impact on the living standards of local communities,” a director of the NCCI Theo Mberirua said.

The SDGs follow the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed on by world leaders at the turn of the century.

The United Nations Development Programme’s resident representative, Kiki Gbeho, said the MDGs received a mixed score, but described them as being largely successful.

She pointed out that during the 15 years of MDGs, the initiative managed to reduce the number of hungry people in the world from 15 percent to 11 percent.

Between 2002 and 2012, the MDGs halved the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and the number of the world’s workers living on less than US$1.90 a day declined from 28 percent to 10 percent.

“This agenda (the SDGs) is meant to end poverty and inequality; protect the planet; and ensure prosperity for all.

“Arriving at this agenda was a bottom up consultative process where over 7 million people and institutions (including the private sector) were consulted. The SDGs therefore represent the aspirations of the world and its people,” Gbeho said.

She noted that since independence, Namibia had logged many successes, such as being classified an upper middle-income country by the World Bank, and achieved one of the fastest reductions in poverty on the continent (from 69 percent to 18 percent).

In addition, the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance ranked Namibia number five in Africa overall.

The country ranked number one in Africa in the provision of education; number four in terms of gender parity in parliament and number one in Africa on press freedom.

Namibia had an open economy with good quality infrastructure and was a country that had managed to reduce inequality while growing its gross national income.

However, despite these successes, the country is still one of the most unequal countries in the world with a Gini coefficient of 5.4.

“And we know, that a one percent increase in income in the most unequal countries, produces a mere 0.6 percent reduction in poverty, while in the most equal countries, it could yield up to a 4.3 percent decrease in poverty,” she said.

“What is clear is that the global development agenda is also relevant to Namibia. What is also clear is that this agenda cannot be tackled by any one entity alone, including government.

“New partnerships will need to be forged if progress is to be made. We need to foster a new era of collaboration and we believe the private sector has a unique opportunity to embrace this development agenda and recognise it as a driver of sustainable business strategies, innovation and investment decisions,” Gbeho continued.

The United Nations estimates that by 2050, the world will need to produce twice as much food as it produced in the year 2000, but with the same amount of land and using less water.

The world through the Paris Agreement has called for a rapid transition to a low carbon world, calling for clean ways of generating energy and innovation in the way it builds and operates its transport systems. The estimates of the financial resources required to address Africa’s infrastructure needs currently stand at US$93 billion a year.

Achieving the SDG goals, therefore also offered economic and investment opportunities for business.

The private sector, she said, was known for its efficiency, innovation and talent and could come to the table to make the world a better place.

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