SDGs and the Private Sector

SDG 1 aims to end poverty. The Private Sector could support national efforts in achieving this SDG by providing employment and by ensuring it does not over-charge clients for products and services. The Private Sector also has a role in reducing people’s exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, as well as investing in poverty eradication actions.

SDG 2 aims to end hunger. Food security is an important issue for the Pacific and its importance will increase with climate change. The Private Sector has a very important role in achieving the targets of this SDG. It should ensure that food and beverages being produced and sold to customers are of a nutritious nature, including by ensuring that prices on nutritious products are kept as low as possible to be competitive. The private sector should invest in local produce particularly in organic and sustainable food production in both the agricultural and fisheries sectors. Retailers need to give preference to local produce over that which is imported, and must ensure that farmers, fishers and producers are adequately compensated for their efforts to ensure local production would continue down the generations.

SDG 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. Health services provided by the Private Sector need to ensure the welfare of their patients comes before profit and offer the most affordable forms of medical services. This should also apply to the Pharmaceutical  industry that need to provide medicines at an affordable cost. The Private Sector also needs to ensure that their activities do not produce pollution. They should aim for a circular economy model and ensure waste from one process becomes an input in another, building these linkages between different industry sectors.

SDG 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Success of the Private Sector is clearly linked to the level of education in any country. A well educated populace increases the chances of a successful Private Sector. It is in the interest of Business and Industry to support quality education in the countries where they operate by, for example, supporting rural schools or offering scholarships (even if in areas that benefit their sector) as part of their corporate social responsibility. Educational institutions and universities need to incorporate the needs of Business and Industry to help them transition to a Green Economy future with the creation of Green Jobs.

SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The healthiest economies are those that do not ignore the productivity of half the population, their women’s productivity, whether this productivity is expressed at a place of work or at home. Empowering women and breaking down the legal, economic, and social barriers that hinder women’s participation in countries’ development enables us to fight injustice and inequality and creates an environment where all citizens can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential .This is certainly one SDG where the private sector could play a prominent part. The private sector needs to:

•  support the principle of equal pay for equal work;

• encourage more workforce diversity and remove any discrimination against women in recruitment and promotion opportunities;

•  ensure gender balance on boards that make recruitment and promotion decisions;

•  support the right for parental leave by giving parents paid leave on birth of a child;

•  provide nursery facilities at work for working mothers who need to attend to their babies’ needs;

•  develop gender-sensitive policies, including flexible hours or, where the work allows, possibility to work from home when parents need to be with unwell children;

•  ensure a safe environment for workers by having a sexual harassment policy and taking appropriate action if there are cases of sexual harassment at the work place;

•  ensure that marketing and advertising campaigns do not objectify men or women; and

•  contribute equally to women empowerment initiatives as part of Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR)

SDG 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The Private Sector needs to ensure it eliminates any dumping of waste or release of chemicals that could pollute fresh water sources. There is a need to also take steps to make efficient use of water and eliminate water wastage. Businesses involved with the sale of hardware need to provide affordable and good quality alternatives for materials used in improving water and sanitation infrastructure. The Private Sector could also consider devoting some of their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts to improving water ecosystems and the water and sanitation conditions of local communities.