“Nothing for us without us”
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. The UN is working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda.
To review and discuss the role of private-sector in achieving these goals, Islamic Chamber Research and Information Center (ICRIC) organized a two-day international conference entitled Muslim Business Communities Contribution to Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Opening the conference, Dr. Mehdi Fakheri, ICRIC Director General said “ICRIC in line with the nature of its activities has organized the mentioned conference to provide a platform for the Islamic business communities to share actions which they can take towards the achievement of the Post-2015 Development Goals, communicate recommendations to governments and highlight ways in which governments can facilitate further business engagement for development.”
Also speaking at the event while on mission in Iran, Mr. Haoliang Xu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director for the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific said: “We in UNDP strongly believe in public-private sector partnership as an important element of sustainable human development. The ongoing work by member states to agree on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that can complement or replace the MDGs provide yet a new avenue for a public private partnership where governments, the UN, private sector and business can work together towards a sustainable human development.”
He added: “We are entering a new era of global development agenda that requires a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation and mutual accountability. An effective development agenda will only make a lasting difference when it is centered around people, including those affected by poverty and exclusion, women, youth, the aged, disabled persons and indigenous people. It should include civil society organizations, multilateral institutions, local and national governments, academia community, business and private philanthropy to work hand in hand together.”
Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, Mr. Mohammadreza Nematzadeh was also invited to speak at this event. His emphasis was on the monthly subsidy that the government is providing to Iranian families. In this regard he stated: “Subsidy will not solve unemployment problems. Inclusive growth can be achieved through job creation. So let us move towards the path of creating jobs.”
Speaking at the conference Dr. Alireza Mo’ayeri, Advisor to the President and President of the National Center for Globalization Studies said: “Poverty is a major obstacle in achieving sustainable development and to overcome this challenge all nations have a responsibility and role to play. Thus, poverty alleviation programs need to occur at the same time all around the world. Together we can overcome these challenges.”
Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the I.R. of Iran shared with the attendees his reflections about the role which the private-sector can play. “What sorts of investments should an informed and socially-conscious private sector make?” Mr. Lewis asked. He went on to answer the question by stating: “The real – long term – answer is to introduce systems – I repeat for effect, “systems” – which ensure sustainable investments and selection of appropriate technologies. We need systems that better engage Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with Government and local communities. We need systems that can manage and monitor impact better. Systems that can manage agri-chemicals that minimize risks to the environment, to farmers and to local consumers. We need systems that can better manage and conserve our soil and water. We need to invest in better water use and with less pollution. We need to invest in better energy efficiency and waste management systems – so that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve recycling use. We need to invest better in biodiversity protection. We need to invest better in safety and health management for employees and contractors. Most important of all, we need to invest in systems that understand the local context and thus ensure community support.
He concluded his remarks by saying: “Nothing for us without us.”
The second session of the conference will take place tomorrow at ICRIC Headquarters in Tehran.