11 February 2013

Africa: Development Goals in Focus At Expert Meet

Nairobi — More than 100 representatives drawn from the corporate sector and civil society from Sub Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa are meeting in Nairobi under the leadership of the United Nations Global Compact to take stock of the Millennium Development Goals ahead of the 2015 deadline.

According to Warid Nagi, the Head of the Local Networks - United Nations Global Compact, the two day meeting will also come up with the recommendation for the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, which will come into effect after 2015.

Nagi said consultations among all stakeholders in the region was key in working on a way forward adding that the MDGs lack an emphasis on sustainability, making their future after their expiry in 2015 questionable.

"While some countries have made major strides in achieving some of the eight Millennium Development Goals, there is still need to sustain the momentum so that successive generations can enjoy an improved quality of life," Nagi explained.

"With growing populations in most countries and related scarcity of resources, there is need to change tact in the way we approach development. That is why we are now forging towards a sustainable approach, while working with partners drawn from the government, corporate sector and the civil society," he added.

The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalisation, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

Speaking during the meeting on Monday, Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore lauded the contribution that has been made so far through Corporate Social Investment activities led by the private sector organisations, in helping attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Collymore, who is also a board member of the United Nations Global Compact that is chaired by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for a concerted approach in giving back to the society and enhanced focus on the sustainability of the investments.

"Africa is rich, not just in unexploited resources but also in ideas. We are seeing innovations coming from Africa getting integrated into the global markets. This, together with proper governance structures, will certainly lay basis for social-economic development in the long run. But we need to make our contribution now", he said.

The Millennium Development Goals came into being in the year 2000, following a meeting of 150 heads of state during which they set eight development-related objectives touching on poverty, health, education, role of women, environment and global partnerships.

During the regional meeting, the Global Compact Office will consult with the Kenyan Global Compact participants and seeking their input with regards to those goals and the role of businesses in achieving the goals.

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