Achieving global goals or the SDGs by 2030 is only possible if private sector does its fair share
By Shoko Noda & Vikram Sinha
2015 is a milestone year for many reasons—both nationally and globally. It marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN, the 50th year of independence of the Maldives, 50 years of UN-Maldives partnership, deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation and adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the widest consultations in the UN’s history—involvement of 8.5 million people worldwide.
Looking back to the creation process and results of the MDGs, there are many lessons to be learned and achievements to be proud of. The number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 314 million in 2015. The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide has fallen by almost half and many more girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago. The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half and the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 45 per cent worldwide.
The successes of the MDGs prove that global action works. It is the only path to ensure that the new development agenda leaves no one behind. There is no question that only shared responsibility and action can put an end to poverty and create a world of dignity for all. So, the hundred and ninety three countries that adopted the SDGs have placed conscious effort to make the consultation process participatory. The sustainable development discussions were driven by all the member states rather than few countries and development partners. Civil Society Organizations and Private Sector Organizations actively participated to lobby for global interest and to set the development agenda for greater well-being.
In run up to the adoption of the SDGs, many private corporations have pledged their commitment in helping to realize the new goals. Ooredoo has gone a step further and has decided to build effective country level partnerships in fulfilling its commitment. The Ooreedoo Group globally committed to the global goals of promoting good health, strengthening gender equality, stimulating innovation and infrastructure, enhancing quality education and advocating climate action in September of this year. But partnerships for sustainable development take place first and foremost at the local and national levels rather than descending from international apex. This understanding drove the company locally to partner with UN Maldives within a week of the global commitment. As a community-focused company, Ooredoo is guided by a vision of using their services to enrich people’s lives and stimulate human growth. They believe in the power of mobile technology as an enabler, to bring about social and economic progress.
Looking into the Ooredoo’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, this partnership for development makes both economic and social sense. Ooredoo is an active supporter of GSMA's (association of mobile operators and related companies) Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, which demonstrates the commitment of the mobile industry to support customers and first responders before and during humanitarian emergencies. Some of Ooredoo’s recent contributions include a "Smile for Peace Programme" that supports communication within Iraq's conflict zones and connecting citizens and emergency responders in the aftermath of recent Nepal earthquake through VSAT technology. During the recent Male’ Water Crisis Ooredoo created a free helpline for information sharing, deployed M2M technology to locate water trucks distributing water across the island and combined this with communications technology to offer real time updates to affected citizens. This support was instrumental in helping people to access water while mitigating the risk of rising tensions and public unrest.
As the development context changes, UN in the Maldives is reorienting the programme and adapting to the needs. Maldives is now a Middle Income Country, hence the UN in the Maldives is no longer a donor but an equal partner for development to bring innovative solutions to development challenges. The new UN development framework for the next 5 years is aimed at supporting the government and communities to reduce inequalities and disparities among the youth and children while providing them sufficient opportunities to realize their potential; increasing and improving the representation and participation of women in public offices among other things; strengthening the governance to improve service delivery; and supporting the country in adapting to climate and environment induced development challenges. The UN in Maldives aims to do all these in such a way that development benefits are equally shared among marginalized and vulnerable sections of the population.
In the course of next 15 years, Ooredoo and the UN in Maldives will work hand in hand to bring about meaningful and creative solutions to key issues being faced by the people of Maldives in their everyday life. We will also work to raise awareness of the global goals and how the community can take part in our joined efforts to achieve these important milestones.
The pledges made by the private sector are a welcome step and will help expedite the achievements. With our common vision for the country of social and economic progress this new partnership will translate the global commitment into actions. The United Nations stands ready to work with private sector organizations both globally and in the Maldives. We certainly hope that more will follow the example set by Ooredoo.
Ms. Shoko Noda is the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives
Mr. Vikram Sinha is the Chief Executive Officer of Ooredoo Maldives