“Governments must take the lead in living up to their pledges…At the same time, I am counting on the private sector to drive success. First, companies need to do business responsibly and then pursue new opportunities. In short, companies must not make our world’s problems worse before they try to make them better… Now I call for even stronger commitment to partnership, especially on our most pressing challenges” – Ban Ki Moon
These were the words of Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General at the United Nations Private Sector Forum, a day after the SDGs were launched in 2015. One of the striking differences between the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its successor Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the seemingly passive contributions and non-inclusion of the Private Sector in the development and pursuance of the MDGs. Moreover, several stakeholders have posited lack of stakeholder participation as responsible for the near success and near failure (depending on the continent in context) of the goals.
The private sector has the power of innovation and the ability to create many of the solutions needed to address the challenges the world is facing today. Based on the UN’s projection, all actors are expected to work together towards achieving all the 17 SDGs. The only way the world can arrive at the destination these goals envision by 2030 is through a set of well-articulated and tested public-private partnerships as clearly captured in SDG 17 – global partnership towards sustainability. It is therefore important that businesses partner with others in the same industry in implementing the SDGs and also combine resources in carrying out the goals where needed. The success of the SDGs largely depends on Public Private Partnerships.
In order to align public-private partnerships for sustainable development, the SDG Fund established a Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG); a formation of business leaders of major companies from various industries worldwide, to build a roadmap for how public-private alliances can provide large-scale solutions for achieving the goals. The group aims to collaborate and identify areas of common interest and decipher the best methods of UN-Private Sector engagement, as well as offer suggestions for how to work more effectively with one another at country levels.
On February 28, 2017, the Nigerian Chapter of PSAG was inaugurated to coordinate public-private partnerships and amplify locally-driven solutions to achieve the goals in Nigeria. The first in Africa, PSAG was set up by a collaboration of eminent private sector organisations such as the Sahara Group, Unilever, British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN), Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. (PwC), Google, Airtel, GT Bank, General Electric (GE), Dangote Group, Coca-Cola, Channels Television, Chamber of Commerce- Lagos/Kano, National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) and NASME; to work closely with the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on SDGs in ensuring seamless implementation of adopted development projects across the nation and accelerating the achievement of the SDGs in the country.
Consequently, the group committed to increasing public-private sector participation through the advocacy and awareness objectives: promotion of the development of practical and effective business models; improvement of capacity building for stakeholders; midwifing relevant dialogues between public and private stakeholders to provide alternative viewpoints and opportunities to engage. One year after, we explore how much progress the PSAG in Nigeria has made towards creating a safer and better world for all.
Current Development Figures (Infographics)
Poverty rates are increasing by 6 people per second in Nigeria. Over 82million Nigerians currently live in extreme poverty (42.5% of the total population)
World Poverty Clock, February 2018
In the North East alone, an estimated 5.2 million people face extreme hunger, and 50,000, near-famine conditions.
World Food Programme, June 2017
Nigeria ranks 140 out of 195 countries in terms of health care quality and access.
Healthcare Access and Quality Index, May 2017
About 6.9 Million people are in need of health assistance
About 10.2 Million people are in need of humanitarian assistance
Nigeria is the 122 out of 144 countries in closing gender gap
Global Gender Gap Report, 2017
57 Million people in Nigeria continue to live without access to improved water while 130 Million people use unimproved sanitation facilities
World Bank, 2017
N142 Billion would be required to finance renewable energy projects in the country. Federal Government to issue N10.6 billion green bonds to finance renewable energy projects.
Federal Ministry of Environment, 2017
UN to commence implementation of over $4Bn UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework in Nigeria in 2018.
The Federal Government has voted over N40bn in the 2018 budget to meet up with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programmes.
Although it’s been two years since the SDGs came into force, current realities and figures do not reflect tangible outcomes in the performance of the goals within Nigeria. Nevertheless, the establishment of PSAG in the country has no doubt placed the private sector at the centre stage of the goals and initiated the buy in and commitment of cross-sectoral private actors to the goals, together with the opportunity to pragmatically ensure collaboration with the government. Moreover, the placement of PSAG members within different SDG clusters could be the first step towards ensuring specific investments in the various goals by private sector actors, based on their business focus, strategies, operations and activities.
With this drive from the private sector, there is a high chance of attaining of the goals in the country.
The Way Forward
Clearly, current progress levels indicate that there are yet several gaps to be filled by the private sector if Nigeria is to attain the SDGs by 2030. At the launch, the number of organisations that made up the PSAG were envisaged to increase to accommodate others keen on contributing their quota towards achieving the SDGs in Nigeria. Yet, there has been no addition to the group since inauguration. Hence, PSAG in its second year is expected to promote the membership criteria for the different sizes of enterprises to join. Moreover, it is the role of existing members to initiate models that are attractive to other private businesses as well as drive membership awareness. The goals of the PSAG can only be significantly achieved when a considerable number of private sector actors stay committed and actively involved.
Furthermore, it is not sufficient for members to be merely distributed within SDG clusters, it is more effective that measures are put in place within the larger group, to ensure that each cluster member substantially invests specifically in activities that promote cluster goals. With this, there would be, at least, a private sector actor addressing each of the 17 goals in the country.
Finally, Ban ki-Moon also affirmed that, “We would be closer to the world we want if companies everywhere took baseline actions like respecting employee rights, not polluting land, sea and air and punishing corruption”;l the PSAG is expected to work towards this vision.
Editor’s Note: This edition is the first in the #PSAG@1 three-week series.