• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Private sector participation primed to drive attainment of SDGs

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The dismal performance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which inadvertently failed to put Nigeria in sterling rankings among many nations, has been attributed largely to the non-inclusion of the private sector by policy makers.

“In nutshell, Nigeria has a mixed bag of performance records,” read a portion of Nigeria’s End-point report at the end of the MDGs in 2015. However, as many analysts observe, while the MDGs were modestly given pass marks in implementation, those in more pragmatic circles consider the MDGs a colossal failure that could not bring Nigeria out of the myriad of negative indices it has been immersed.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have kicked off and Nigeria has latched onto this next train without concrete evidence it has thoroughly evaluated the causes of failure in the MDGs, which have now ended.

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and top business executives in the country are now reiterating the need for a private sector-led execution of the SDGs, by adopting the UN Global Compact (UNGC), described as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative advocating responsible business practices and UN values among the global business community, make a difference and work with others across all dimensions of corporate sustainability – economic, social, environmental and ethical practices.

Laoye Jaiyeola, local network representative and co-chair, steering committee of UNGC in Nigeria, emphasises the need to create adequate awareness for private sector involvement in driving attainment of the SDGs, in view of government’s limited abilities to effectively deliver on expected results.

“The UN Global Compact is asking companies to; act responsibly by first making sure they are reducing their negative impacts on society and environment and establishes a culture of integrity and compliance. Respecting the GC’s 10 principles is the starting point for advancing the SDGs.

“We’re also asking companies to seize opportunities. This means identifying the most significant and strategic SDGs for their business and engaging in partnerships and collective action based on the targets. Setting company goals that contribute to sustainable development is another way,” says Jobi Makinwa, the chief of African operations at the UN Global Compact.

Ayotola Jagun, chief compliance officer/company secretary at Oando plc, also reiterates the need for companies to consciously make efforts towards contributing to the targets embedded within the SDGs.

Ayotola, in the Oando instance, notes that the company has been consciously working towards attainment of at least 4 of the SDG goals, which are being executed through its foundation. These include Goal 4; quality education, Goal 5: gender equality, Goal 6; clean water and sanitation, and Goal 17; partnerships for the goals.

On his part, Myke Ologunoye, vice president, engineering at SME funds, describes the role of companies and other members of the private sector as one in which opportunities are identified in solving problems in the society. As he observes, companies who consistently solve a problem cannot go out of business.

Invariably, in the submission of Ologunoye, companies can identify problems under the 179 targets, subsumed under the 17 SDG goals, and turn such problems into business opportunities.

Viewing these problems; such as affordable energy, as opportunities which can be monetised will give a double edged effects of contributing towards attainment of SDG goals, while also generating revenue.

The End-point report for the MDGs note that Nigeria is still faced with critical challenges in tackling poverty, hunger and malnutrition; achieving gender parity in education, wage employment and political leadership; reducing maternal deaths; and improving access to sanitation and ensuring environmental sustainability

Going forward, there will be need to consolidate the gains made and address the outstanding challenges in the areas where little progress has been made or the country is off track in reaching the goals targets.