Sahara’s Group Executive Director, Tonye ColeSahara’s Group Executive Director, Tonye Cole has said that though daunting, the quest for a world free of poverty can be attained through sustained cooperation involving all governments, businesses and civil society.

Speaking in New York at the launch of the report: “Business and the United Nations: Working together towards the Sustainable Development Goals: A framework for Action”, Cole said: “Poverty is something no human being should be made to go through and its eradication is a task that all of us must take seriously.”

According to him, global alliances can help drive recent World Bank projections that the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world is likely to fall to under 10 percent of the global population in 2015.

“The task of Zero Poverty is audacious. The private sector’s ability of seeking out where opportunities exist in the supply chain and the UN’s vast mobilization mechanism to galvanize co-operation amongst various stakeholders is a combination I believe is crucial in the campaign against poverty,” he added.

Anchored by the Sustainable Development Goal Fund (SDG-F), the report among others, proposed actions to motivate and mobilise businesses, UN staff and Member States around specific strategic SDG engagement opportunities, especially at the country level. It also highlighted the need to simplify and facilitate the process of business engagement with UN agencies, building and sharing knowledge, exploring co-investment models and measuring impact.

SDG-F’s Director, Paloma Duran Director, said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a formidable platform for global cooperation towards combating poverty, inequality and injustice, and climate change. “This provides an unprecedented opportunity to shift the world onto a path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. Hopefully, ours can be the first generation to end poverty, but we must do that in a way that simultaneously reduces inequality and exclusion and avoids wrecking the ecosystems on which life depends. It would be hard to drive such development forward without business being on board,” she noted in the report.

Company case examples from SDG-F’s 13-member Advisory Group, which provided the basis for the report, showed how private sector participation is making huge impact across the globe.

According to the report, Sahara Group, through its Employee Engagement Programme, is investing in capacity building for the local communities where the company operates, providing better outcomes on employee productivity and absenteeism. The programme has helped Sahara hire more locals in such communities.

Microsoft’s Project Badiliko is increasing digital literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa and introduces ICT as a new way for teachers to teach and students to learn. Working in partnership with the British Council, Microsoft has built 100 digital hubs, which include teacher training and content, in schools.

Other members of the Advisory Group featured in the report include: H&M, PVBLIC Foundation, Grupo Nutresa, Fundación SERES, BBVA Microfinance Foundation, Ebro Foods, EY Global, Ferrovial, Tongwei Group, Organización Ardila Lülle and SABMiller.

By Pita Ochai

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