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UN teams with World Economic Forum to drive financing for development

UN teams with World Economic Forum to drive financing for development

The United Nations teamed up today with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in a bid to mobilize partnerships between the public and private sectors and boost business contribution to sustainable development and the fight against poverty.

The influential, Swiss-based non-profit WEF, which sponsors the annual gathering in Davos of political and corporate leaders from around the world, formalized its relationship with the UN with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at UN Headquarters in New York.

The initiative seeks to bring together all stakeholders to help the UN promote new or improved policy responses to the main development challenges identified by the International Conference on Financing for Development, held two years ago in Monterrey, Mexico. The yearlong project will take advantage of the public-private synergies that were a distinguishing characteristic of that conference.

Oscar de Rojas, head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs' (DESA) Financing for Development Office, told a press briefing that beginning in June, a series of multi-stakeholder workshops would gather experts and representatives of private, public and not-for-profit organizations, who would issue recommendations on specific issues identified at Monterrey.

The informal meetings would address important issues such as the effectiveness of public-private partnerships and improving the climate for private investment in developing countries. He said he was confident that cooperation with the World Economic Forum would assure productive involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders.

Stressing the importance of the initiative, Richard Samans, the WEF's Managing Director for Partnership and Governance, said the Forum claimed nearly 1,000 of the world's leading companies as its members, and had a diverse array of constituencies. Currently, it was collaborating with DESA, the private sector, academics, the media and governments, as well as labour and religious organizations in what was called an "Agenda for Public/Private Cooperation."

For the next year to year-and-a-half, the Forum, in partnership with the UN, would participate in the effort to improve and expand existing public-private partnerships in specific areas of development, he said. In particular, the initiative would attempt to draw lessons from previous experiences, to determine what types of partnerships worked best. Another area requiring attention was capacity building in such areas of financial governance as accounting and auditing.