Hopes that business partners would bring UN new funding mostly unfulfilled – report

13 September 2005

Early hopes that private sector partnerships would bring new funding to the United Nations have largely gone unfulfilled, but business relationships have brought new networks, experiences and skills from which the organization has benefited, such as harnessing markets for development, according to a new report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Early hopes that private sector partnerships would bring new funding to the United Nations have largely gone unfulfilled, but business relationships have brought new networks, experiences and skills from which the organization has benefited, such as harnessing markets for development, according to a new report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The UN has been interested in partnerships that help promote vital issues on the global agenda, develop shared standards, such as ethical behaviour norms, and coordinate resources and expertise, such as providing access to producer networks and incentives for investment, it says.

With regard to advocacy partnerships with the private sector, the report gives, as one example among many, a public health marketing campaign in 2001 by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, along with the newly launched Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap. Along with Government channels, it used private sector marketing know-how in choosing mass media, and devising programmes of direct consumer contact.

In another instance, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the West Africa Cocoa and Commercial Agriculture programme, supported by the cocoa and chocolate industries. It reduced the use of child labour in West African cocoa production by convincing families and communities to send the children to school in such producer countries as Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria.

The report notes that in 2004, 20 major financial institutions, with combined managed assets of more than $6 trillion, produced the “Who Cares Wins” report, under the supervision of the Global Compact of corporations, one of Mr. Annan’s initiatives, and with the support of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Conference Board.

“Who Cares Wins” aims to develop guidelines and recommendations on how better to integrate environmental and social and corporate governance issues into asset management, securities brokerage services and associated research functions.

Among the concrete steps the United Nations system should take to improve the environment for its partnerships with the private sector are increasing capacity in UN country offices; promoting the training of staff at all levels; streamlining UN guidelines for partnerships and fostering transparency through improved learning and best practice exchanges, it says.

Partnerships have an increasingly important role in complementing conventional international cooperation, the report says.

 

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