The private sector as a crucial partner in achieving the 2030 Agenda

von Ms Nina Jansen

Side-Event at the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The International Organisation of the Employers (IOE), the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations (UN) in New York held a digital conference as a side event to the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on 12 July 2021 to highlight best practices in multi-stakeholder engagement towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.


The pandemic has deep, far-reaching, and unprecedented health, economic and employment impacts which are threatening any progress made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). To make the universal Agenda a reality in uncertain times, all stakeholders must commit and join forces to build on their respective strengths and forge new partnerships for collective action. 

In light of the above, employer organizations (representative and legitimate voices of businesses at the national level), UN Resident Coordinators (most senior representatives of the UN Secretary-General within the UN development system at national level), the private sector and civil society were brought together in this event to showcase best practice examples and reflect on the roles of the private sector as a crucial partner in achieving the 2030 Agenda. 

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Andrea Ostheimer de Sosa, Executive Director New York Office for KAS, who mentioned the pandemic as an opportunity to re-direct policies towards a more sustainable and renewable future, and Mr. Talal Rashid Al-Khalifa, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar, who praised private sectors’ crucial role in Covid-19 vaccine production as well as in digital infrastructure, pivotal to SDG implementation and global development. 

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Ulrich Nussbaum, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) of the Federal Republic of Germany, emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in achieving the 2030 Agenda and it is only with innovative enterprises and private investments that we will be able to successfully implement the necessary transformation. 

The high-level event then kicked off with two panels where speakers discussed challenges, solutions, and shared their good practice examples. The first panel was moderated by Brian James Williams, Head of the Policy & Programming Branch of the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO), and centred on the theme Partnership Divided: What are the benefits, best practices and lessons learned of innovative collaborations and partnerships between the public and private sectors? 

The second panel, moderated by Matthias Thorns, Deputy Secretary-General of IOE, explored the theme From Dialogue to Action: how to translate multi-stakeholder engagement into systemic private sector inclusion in sustainable development programming for powerful partnerships towards the SDGs and Covid-19 recovery? The panel members were:

Concluding remarks were provided by Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary-General, IOE, who generously thanked all participants, speakers and partners and further stressed some of the key take-aways provided by panel members and mentioned the next series of dialogues are being held in Asia and Africa in the coming months.  

Key take-aways of the side-event  include:

  • Complex issues such as meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while striving for a job-rich Covid recovery and addressing youth employment, cannot be tackled by a single actor alone – they need a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral and multi-level approach whereby the private sector is seen as a crucial partner and expert driving innovation and new development solutions crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda.
  • Trust is the key ingredient for successful partnerships. Having difficult conversations and touching sensitive issues is a prerequisite for building that trust. In addition, moving beyond the “what is in it for me” mentality and focusing on achieving the greater good collectively are fundamental for success.
  • Representation and vocalization of the entire business community (ranging from the informal sector to small- and medium enterprises, multinationals and employer organizations) at all levels of society (from global and UN –level, to national, local and company level) is a prerequisite in achieving the SDGs. The informal sector has a rich history and knowledge that we should try to tap into for understanding and expertise that adds value to our work. 



Sebastian Borchmeyer

Sebastian Borchmeyer bild