SDG17 calls on businesses and governments to actively partner in order to deliver sustainable development goals, but doing so is easier said than done.
There are many parts of SDG 17 – such as the sections on trade rules, aid, and systemic issues – where companies can have only limited influence, given they are squarely aimed at governments or civil society. But the goal to advance partnerships so as to deliver the wider Sustainable Development Goals remains highly relevant to business and society at large.
“With the increasing importance of global value chains (GVCs), companies have a profound interest in building trade capacity in developing countries,” says the consultancy PwC. “Access to trade-related infrastructure, an educated workforce and quality standards for inputs to their goods are all critical to the success of corporate GVCs. Multi-sector partnerships, which pool the resources and know-how of different stakeholders, are well placed to drive action.”
Public-private partnerships may have a decidedly mixed reputation and there are myriad horror stories involving smaller organisations partnering with large corporates only to steamrollered by their new supposed ally, but delivering on the 17 separate SDGs is such an all-encompassing endeavour it is impossible to see how it can be accomplished without a sharp increase in global co-operation.
In the case of finance and SDG 17, “the private sector should work with the public sector to develop mechanisms to channel finance into areas which are crucial for long term sustainable development,” advises Joanne Patrick, investment director at Amber Infrastructure and director of the Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF).
Credit card provider Mastercard, for example, has worked with humanitarian aid organisations to distribute aid swiftly and safely in places where there is no connectivity. The MasterCard Aid Network has helped 15,000 people in Yemen and 9,000 people in the Philippines receive aid through programmes managed by Save the Children and World Vision, respectively. “At its core, MasterCard Aid Network is a digital, non-financial service that organisations can use to provide basic human needs such as food, shelter and healthcare to impacted populations,” the company says.
For ICT companies, the SDG17’s digital agenda is core to their business strategy. Chinese tech group Huawei’s 2019 ICT Sustainable Development Goals Benchmark report highlights how there is a strong correlation between ICT development and progress on the SDGs, but also that there is still a considerable gap between the leading countries and the rest.