Public-Private Cooperation Will Speed Progress towards Sustainable Development Goals

18 Sep 2017

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +41 (0)79 201 0211;

· The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Sustainable Development Impact Summit opens in New York

· Business, government and civil society must work together to ramp up action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

· For more information about the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, visit

· Follow the conversation using #wefimpact

New York City, USA, 18 September 2017 – Public-private cooperation needs to be stepped up to accelerate action required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, government and business leaders agreed in the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s inaugural Sustainable Development Impact Summit. “There is no time to waste on this journey,” Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, told participants. “Goals matter. If we are to succeed, we also need business, academia, civil society and trade unions. There will be no progress without public-private cooperation. This is a business case. This will boost our innovation capacity. Innovations are crucial for the transition to a new sustainable society.”

Warned Miroslav Lajcák, the Foreign Minister of Slovakia who is serving as President of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly: “If we don’t make partnerships part of our work for every goal, we won’t achieve any of them. The world is more interconnected, and partnerships are growing in response. But we are still far from seeing the partnerships needed to implement the 2030 goals.”

“If we don’t engage in partnership we will not make headway,” agreed Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius. She stressed the need to bring together strong institutions and robust scientific research and data, bolster accountability and promote inclusion, particularly through the greater involvement of women, to make better policy decisions. “Water and food security will all be affected by climate change. This is why we have to go for public-private partnerships.”

In remarks referring to the climate change challenge and the Paris Agreement to address it, Al Gore, the Vice-President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, who is Chairman and Co-Founder of Generation Investment Management in the US, observed that “these partnerships are the real keys to putting in place the solutions that we need. We have the tools. We have the ability. We are winning this but we have to win it more quickly and we will do so with the private-public cooperation that the World Economic Forum is facilitating.”

The World Economic Forum is convening its first Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York on 18‑19 September 2017. The summit is dedicated to accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement through public-private cooperation and the application of technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

While good health and well-being should be a priority goal, it should not be addressed in isolation, argued Frans van Houten, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Philips in the Netherlands. “The SDGs are not independent goals. They are actually synergetic.” No government, company or NGO can solve any of the challenges on its own, he stressed.

Noting that public resources are generally decreasing, Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rock Creek in the US, said that public-private cooperation can ensure that gaps in the effort to meet the SDGs are bridged. “The partnership is really the key to success in implementing the SDGs,” she said, citing as an example the need for adequate information relating to the health goal. “There is a lack of data and statistics and a marketplace for impact. This is an area where we need help from government to give direction.”

“If you fix a number of these challenges with partnerships, you can prove that policies and action can help people retain the control of their destinies,” added Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights at the European Commission in Brussels. Achieving the SDGs will help people regain control of their lives, he explained. “The private sector is begging for regulation to give them an indication and a long-term direction for where to go. All these things will show people that there are alternatives to getting control of your destiny.”

“To achieve our big objectives, international cooperation will have to enter a new and more dynamic phase,” said Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda at the World Economic Forum. Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, concluded: “We need a general mobilization if we want to succeed in the implementation of the SDGs.” (Read Prof Schwab’s article on the Sustainable Development Impact Summit)

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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