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19 May 2016

Francis West, UNICEF UK, on Business Fights Poverty

Commentary: Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals & UN Guiding Principles requires companies to harness core operations & govt.s to create enabling environment

"The Global Goals and the Ruggie Principles - Squaring the Circle on Private Sector Engagement", 11 May 2016

Two truisms – that core business operations must be harnessed and that Government has a critical role in setting an appropriate enabling environment – remain central to the most effective private sector engagement on these human rights and international development challenges:..There is a risk that the sheer number of SDG targets (there are 169) could encourage an outdated approach to CSR, where companies might cherry-pick the goals to which they want to contribute. This is not to suggest that businesses should address all goals, but instead they should prioritise action according to the salience of the impacts of their business on people...What is clear is that more needs to be done to set out specific policies, practices and collective advocacy interventions – perhaps on a sector level – that businesses can undertake that tackle human rights challenges in their supply chains and that simultaneously contribute to SDG targets...There are clear hooks in the SDGs to further the state’s responsibility to protect human rights in relation to business activity. Target 12.7 aims to ‘promote public procurement practices that are sustainable.’  This is a fantastic opening that cannot be overlooked...And businesses would support Government intervention of this type. Research by the Economist indicates that nearly a third of business leaders see mandatory reporting on human rights for their companies as a good thing...When Government develops its SDG implementation plans and national indicators, we hope that it is brave enough to consider the views of the business community as they stand, rather than the caricature of those views that is often presented in the media...[Refers to Millicom, Tesco]