Patrick Haverman: Speech for the Deloitte Sustainability Award

Feb 27, 2014

By Patrick Haverman, UNDP Deputy Country Director, UNDP China 


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First I want to thank Deloitte for organizing this great event. It is my great pleasure, on behalf of the UNDP, to welcome you to this celebration of corporate social responsibility. UNDP has been the Chinese government and the Chinese people develop in the area of sustainable development for over 35 years.

I would like to begin my own remarks by telling you a short human story, which exemplifies how business and development can go hand in hand.

Eighty-year-old Dao Yuexian from Guizhou Province learned to embroider when she was just seven years old. She has practiced this art throughout her whole life. Yet, in her minority community her traditional skills are at risk of being lost. She has to bring in money for the family, but her handicrafts cannot compete with mass-produced merchandise.

That might have been the end of the story, had Jala Group (a Chinese cosmetic company) and UNDP not intervened to strengthen the competitive advantage of ethnic minority products over cheaper mass-produced items. By involving the local government, we ensured buy-in from the local leadership. By involving Jala Group, essential business skills and contacts in the fashion industry have been transmitted to the community, and for our part UNDP made sure to glue it all together in a mutually beneficial partnership.

As a result, Jala has learned about the priorities of future customers and its potential workforce, and has added a social value to their brand. And the work is bringing poorer communities unprecedented opportunities to connect with China's dynamic private sector.

In another project we are working together with a Chinese company on how to solve the issue of heavily polluted water, by the use of innovative renewable energy technology. We are helping the company test their innovation in urban and rural areas so they can adapt it to different needs. This way we will help ensure communities’ and cities’ clean drinking water and put forward green solutions to this important problem for many local governments.   

These are small-scale examples of what we in UNDP call “growing inclusive markets”. Markets which are good for development but also good for business, core business. 

We believe that joining forces with the private sector is crucial to address today’s global challenges and to unlock the tremendous potential of the markets at the bottom of the economic ladder, building your sustainable business of the future.

Today’s event shows that the days are long gone where government is responsible for development and the private sector for making profit, but also that the role of business in development is only seen as a matter of philanthropic giving.

As a primary driver of innovation, investment, and job creation, the private sector is now recognized as a critical partner in development with an important role in advancing progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and, eventually, what we call the post-2015 development agenda.

More than ninety per cent of jobs in developing countries are in the private sector. Having decent work and a regular income are very important factors in poverty reduction.

Over the last decade, the UN system has steadily increased its engagement with the private sector. Most UN organizations are now involved in a range of partnerships.

The UN brings to these partnerships its unmatched convening power, the universal presence and network of the UN development system, and its depth of knowledge and expertise on development.

In return, business brings its own networks, expertise, capacity for innovation and implementation, and financial and technical resources.

Applying the strengths of both parties in partnerships for development is very powerful. Indeed it would be hard to drive a truly sustainable development agenda without business being on board. The very way in which business is done has huge impact on all aspects of sustainable development.

With this in mind, UNDP is working with companies in 150 countries to ensure that sustainability is at the core of their businesses, in four specific ways:

First, through what we call the UNDP Green Commodities Facility we are helping overcome many sustainable production and export/import challenges;

In Indonesia for example we are working closely with the Government, national palm oil producers and major international buying companies to lay the foundation for sustainable palm oil production in the future.

Secondly, we are part of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative. Here we are working with companies to support developing countries to increase access to clean and efficient energy, which is crucial to the poor living in the countryside.

China has achieved impressive results bringing electricity to 99% of the rural population. African countries are eager to learn from China and have Chinese energy inventions installed, but to benefit the most from Chinese experiences and inventions they need to have the fundamental institutional and investment policies in place.

So, in a partnership with China, UNDP is building Ghana and Zambia’s capacity for making Chinese technologies work on the ground.

Thirdly, we are working with the extractive industry. We are building strategic alliances in areas such as community feedback mechanisms, environmental impact and local economic development.

In Iraq, for example, together with a major international oil company and the government we are helping local companies live up to international standards and gain better skills.

Fourthly, we encourage all corporations to join our leadership platform by signing up to our global Business Call to Action. Here we work with individual companies to develop “inclusive business models” around energy, agriculture, financial services and health.

In this audience today there are many strong advocates of the work of the United Nations and of development. We want to express our strong support for MNC’s currently involved in responsible business practices in China. Companies that have the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet and Profit) internalized in their business strategy and value chain will position themselves well in competitive markets. Everyone in this room knows that responsible business practices lead to sustainable business. We look forward to the numerous examples presented here today. We stand ready to engage with you, securing a sustainable future for all.

Thank you.