Home / Issues / UN-Business Partnerships

United Nations System Private Sector Focal Points Meeting 2012

List of Participants

Wednesday, 28 March

9:00 - 9:30 Opening Plenary Session and welcoming remarks

  • Mr. Paul Hohnen, Moderator of the Meeting, Sustainability Strategies
  • Mr. Sandeep Chawla, Deputy Executive Director UNODC and Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
  • Mr. Dmitry Piskunov, Managing Director of Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division, UNIDO
  • Ms. Leila Pakkala, Director, Private Fundraising & Partnerships (PFP), UNICEF
  • Mr. Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Office

9:30 - 11:00 Plenary Session and Discussion #1: Operational Concepts for UN-business Partnerships

Partnerships can take many forms, ranging from bilateral, time bound cooperation agreements that follow clear legal rules to global awareness-raising campaigns with no defined governance structures. What differentiates partnership models from each other are both the desired partnership outcomes as well as key decisions made regarding partnership design - for example, the composition of partners, the financing mechanism, the timeframe or legal structures. This session will profile different examples of UN-business partnership models and some of their key design building blocks while highlighting how these design decisions contribute to achieving different types of outcomes. This session will draw on new work developed by the Global Public Policy Institute for the Global Compact Office.

Discussion questions
Which partnership models are best suited for achieving specific organizational, development or other types of outcomes?
What are the pros and cons, benefits and risks of different partnership design decisions?

Moderator: Mr. Wade Hoxtell, Research Associate, Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi)


11:15 - 12:45 Plenary Session and Discussion #2: Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development – Towards Rio +20
Business has an important role to play in achieving the world’s sustainable development goals. In the lead-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) and the Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation & Collaboration for the Future We Want organized by the UN Global Compact Office in collaboration with a range of UN partners in June, this session will look at UN-business partnerships and innovative collaborations that are significantly advancing the sustainability agenda. Participants will explore good practices for triggering innovation in products and processes, and drivers of greater corporate action in various areas including green industry/energy/climate/, urbanization & cities, food security/sustainable agricultural development, among others. In the months ahead, the UN Global Compact Office will mobilize private sector commitments to action in each of these areas and the capacity of www.business.un.org will be expanded to create a mechanism for companies to submit commitments to action that advance UN goals.

Discussion questions
What are the most promising UN-Business partnerships models that better catalyze private sector action towards sustainable development?
Which type(s) of UN-Business partnerships have the potential to better serve the sustainable development goals of Rio+20: partnerships that work on several angles at once i.e. technical implementation projects, policy making, research, – or partnerships that address one angle at a time?

Moderator: Ms. Patricia Chaves, Senior Sustainable Development Officer, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA


14:00 - 16:00 Working Groups Session #1

Building Partnerships with Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Social Enterprises – Opportunities and Challenges

This session will explore the opportunities, benefits and challenges of UN collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises by profiling examples. It will also examine the partnership process and examples of due diligence practices for smaller companies.

Discussion questions
What are the incentives and challenges for engaging with SMEs?
What are some good practice examples for developing partnerships with SMEs?
What would help to scale-up such partnerships?

Moderator: Mr. Jocelyn Fenard, Chief, Partnership and Resources Mobilization Section, UNITAR


UN Brand Management, Due Diligence & Partner Selection

Partnering with third parties, including the private sector, brings many opportunities but also some risks, including to the UN's reputation. UN entities across the System have been developing processes and tools to help with the management of such risks at the partner scoping and selection stage, and for when issues arise during a partnership. There is also the ongoing challenge of finding ways to enhance coherence among UN entities in their partner selection while respecting the different mandates that such entities have. This session will review progress and innovation in these areas since the last Focal Point meeting. In addition, a private sector partner from the extractive sector - an industry considered higher risk or sensitive by many UN entities from the standpoint of potential risk to UN reputation - will offer an industry perspective, including how they manage reputational risk arising from their own partnerships or joint-ventures with other businesses in the sector.

Discussion questions 
How are UN entities balancing the need to attract and recognize partners, with the need to manage reputational risk?
In addition to the resources introduced over the past year, what other developments would help UN private sector focal points in this area?
Is there scope for UN entities to use their partnership activities with the private sector as a platform to also engage potential and actual private sector partners on corporate responsibility issues of concern to other UN agencies in support of their mandates?

Moderator: Ms. Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel, UN Global Compact Office


Innovative Solutions and Partnerships for Development

There is growing recognition that technological and business model innovation can help accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development goals. The private sector has a crucial role to play in this process by leveraging their core competencies in research and development, supply chain management, distribution, and marketing to help communities overcome their limited access to infrastructure, products and services, and information, as well as by promoting new forms of entrepreneurship. This session will explore this rapidly evolving environment, along with examples of UN-business partnerships where technology and innovative products and processes have served as key drivers of social change.

Discussion questions 
Can UN agencies influence companies' R&D strategies and initiate the development of new and innovative products to achieve sustainable development goals?
What role can the private sector play to help trigger social change? How are these innovations empowering communities and leading to social change?
How have UN agencies incorporated the private sector expertise into their programmes to achieve sustainable goals?
What are the key challenges that you have faced in implementing new initiatives involving the UN and private sector partners?

Moderator: Mr. Christopher Clark, Coordinator, Sector Membership, ITU


16:15 - 17:30 Reporting-back and Concluding Plenary Session

One person from each working group will provide a brief overview of the key outcomes of the discussion

DAY 2 – Thursday, 29 March 2012

8:45 - 10:15 Plenary Session: Looking Ahead – Insights from the Private Sector
Global challenges such as growth, urbanization, resource scarcity and environmental change will become key strategic drivers for business in the upcoming decade. Surveys among business leaders reflect that in order to achieve growth, companies have to become more responsive to society’s expectations and balance competing global and local priorities (e.g. market development, product differentiation, development of a diverse workforce). These trends not only strengthen the shared agenda of business and the public sector, but could also present vast opportunities for more strategic UN-business engagement. This session offers a forum to discuss external trends and their future implications for the UN’s approach to partnering with the private sector.

Discussion questions
How can UN agencies become valuable partners for companies in adapting to these developments? Can specific trends towards certain partnership models or thematic areas be filtered (e.g. bilateral vs. transformational)?
What are best practices from the view of external partnerships experts?
What factors need more attention in order to maximize the impact of such partnerships and incentivize each partner to embrace mutual ownership?

Moderator: Mr. Bo Viktor Nylund, Senior Advisor, Corporate Social Responsibility, UNICEF


  • Mr. Gib Bulloch, Executive Director, Accenture Development Partnerships
  • Mr. Dominique Heron, Partnership Director, Veolia Environment
  • Ms. Valerie Guertler-Doyle, Head Diversity & Inclusion Switzerland, Novartis Pharma AG

10:30 - 12:15 Working Groups Session #2

Enhancing Collaboration and Coordination at the Country-Level

UN Reform has inspired efforts to improve UN system-wide coherence through the development of “Delivering as One” pilots, Joint Programmes and special issue initiatives. In this session, we will explore a range of examples – from HIV/AIDS prevention in the workplace - to the Coordination of humanitarian affairs and disaster relief. We will also discuss the challenges inherent in the “Delivering as One” approach. This session will provide an opportunity for sharing good practice examples of implementing innovative partnerships at the country-level, while at the same time, exploring key challenges. It will also explore how creative approaches can lead to strengthened partnerships and greater collaboration across the UN family.

Discussion questions
Have you experienced difficulties in “Delivering as One” in your engagement with the private sector/the UN System at the country level? What have been the key challenges (i.e. overlapping mandates, competition for funding, differing due diligence)?
Has “Delivering as One” brought advantages to the UN family in its work with the private sector? Has the private sector responded well to this approach? Are there good practice examples that we can learn from?

Moderator: Mr. Ismar Ceremida, Project Manager, Value Chains for Employment Project, United Nations Development Programme, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Transformational Partnerships in Action

Transformational partnerships have the capacity to transform the ways in which the UN, private sector, civil society, governments, and other stakeholders work together to secure sustained and rapid realization of development goals. They include multi-stakeholder partnerships as well as broader networks of actors organized around complex systemic issues. This relatively new partnership typology aims at delivering transformative impact across sectors and geographies, addressing both public and private objectives through changes in policy, market structure, and/or social norms.
While such partnerships can enhance the potential of UN-business collaboration, designing and effectively implementing them may prove complex and challenging. This session will explore examples of transformational partnerships in action, where UN agencies join efforts with the private sector and other stakeholders to deliver sustainable, scalable and replicable business models across several countries.

Discussion questions
Transformational partnerships have four characteristics, i.e. they address systemic issues, have the right set of stakeholders, leverage core competencies of all stakeholders, and have the in-built capacity to reach impact and scale. How are these criteria met? Are they sufficient for achieving the aspired transformation?
What are the main challenges encountered during the design and implementation of transformational partnerships relative to bilateral ones?
What results have been achieved thus far, demonstrating the transformational character of the partnership?

Moderator: Ms. Noha Bawazir, Program Specialist/ Cooperation with the Private Sector, UNESCO


Mobilizing Private Sector Investment in Support of Food Security and Poverty Reduction

This session will explore the extent to which private sector investment can play a central role in improving food security and supporting economic development in developing regions. Among the issues to be considered are: What types of private investments are most critical for food security and poverty reduction? Are there ways to mobilize private investments that deliver benefits to the poor in areas where a business case for investment may not exist? What more can the UN do to help mobilize private investment in challenging environments?

Discussion questions
What types of private investments are most critical for achieving food security and poverty reduction (e.g. R&D to increase primary production, farmer training, transport, agro-processing facilities)?
What policy enablers and incentives are needed to mobilize the most important types of private sector investment?
How significant are the risks that marginal areas will be by-passed?
What could the UN do to help mitigate these risks?

Moderator: Mr. Doyle Baker, Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division, FAO


12:15 – 13:00 Reporting-back and Concluding Plenary Session
One person from each working group will provide a brief overview of the key outcomes of the discussion.

Closing Plenary Remarks

  • Mr. Paul Hohnen, Moderator of the Meeting, Sustainability Strategies
  • Mr. Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary General for Planning and Policy Coordination, Executive Office of the Secretary-General