The frequent use of the word “innovation” in the current Philippine Development Plan (PDP) - it appears no fewer than 148 times - reflects the importance attached to finding new ways of tackling old problems in the quest to reach national development targets and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. (See 5 things you need to know about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development)
One of the key drivers of innovation is the private sector. Innovation in how the private sector does business, how it partners with government and civil society organizations, and how it engages with development organizations has become one of the defining characteristics of current global efforts to achieve the SDGs. These new ways of working, partnering, and engaging are on the rise in the Philippines too.
The other week, I had the good fortune to listen to David Cheng at a dinner hosted by Ashoka Philippines. David, a former investment banker, spoke about his “conversion” to social entrepreneurship and the efforts of an Ashoka Fellow, David Green, to bring life-saving implants that prevent people with cataracts from losing their sight in India. David disrupted an established high-cost market out of reach of India’s poor by designing an extremely low-cost solution and having it locally manufactured on a large scale. (Find out more about the work of Ashoka fellows here: www.ashoka.org.)
Since 2018, BCtA has helped more than 220 companies in 70 countries, including companies like Coffee for Peace, Kennemer Foods, Messy Bessy, PHINMA Properties and other companies in the Philippines who are all active members of BCtA.
We need many more companies to align core business processes, activities, and initiatives with the SDGs. To help companies assess the scale and market composition of business opportunities in meeting the SDGs, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission released the Better Business Better World report in 2017. The report estimated that achieving the SDGs will create at least US$12 trillion globally in business opportunities. The report identified 60 major market opportunities across four economic systems in food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being.
Given the relevance of all four economic systems to the Philippines, UNDP has commissioned a country-level report to estimate the business opportunities in meeting the SDGs. The analysis will provide companies and financial institutions with an important guidepost for future opportunities and investment needs for meeting the SDGs locally.
2019 promises many new opportunities to accelerate these dynamic private sector-led movements. So, no matter whether you are young or old, or if you play a supporting or managerial role in a large corporation, family business, or social enterprise - there’s no better time to get actively involved in efforts to achieve the SDGs.
Article by Andrew Parker, UNDP Senior Economist