Partnership or Business Case? Private Sector and the SDGs

The private sector plays a significant role in achieving the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Several corporations have already pledged their support for the SDGs or evaluated the relevance of SDGs in their business activities. The UN Global Compact has started a global campaign to celebrate business leaders who are taking action to advance the 2030 Agenda.

In many countries, engaging the private sector in SDG implementation is part of official policy. Governments and the UN are seeking increased commitment from the private sector in order to finance SDG implementation and bring growth to their economies. Many governments expect the involvement of companies in SDG implementation to lead to greater social and environmental awareness in business strategies.

Among civil society organizations (CSOs), the increased involvement of the private sector in sustainable development has received mixed responses. Some CSOs welcome more business involvement as a necessary recognition of responsibility and a shift in the understanding of the private sector’s role in society. As a result, various partnerships between CSOs, governments and the private sector have emerged. Other CSOs view the growing involvement of the private sector in sustainable development critically. The democratic legitimation of this trend as well as the budgetary rationale of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) is being questioned as governments hand over more of their duties and power to private companies, particularly in the social sector. Some CSOs view this as a further push towards the privatization of public goods and services and worry about a new form of greenwashing with the SDGs.

This side event will focus on the following questions:

What are the activities and strategies of private sector actors in SDG implementation? Does private sector involvement lead to more sustainability and better implementation of the SDGs? Does it positively affect business models and behavior in the long run? What are criteria and political frameworks for private sector engagement in SDG implementation? What are recommendations for the private sector, governments and civil society organizations with regard to sustainable development?

Date: Friday, 13 July 2018, 7:15 pm – 8:45 pm

Place: Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017


Opening remarks and introduction to side event
Anna Cavazzini, Bread for the World

Findings from the case study “SDGs and Finance Sector”
Wolfgang Obenland, Global Policy Forum

Discussion Round

  • Cormac Ebken, Deputy Head of Division 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Dr. Laura Schneider, Project Manager, econsense
  • Shanta Lall Mulmi, RECPHEC
  • Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary, Public Services International

Moderator: Marie-Luise Abshagen, German NGO Forum on Environment and Development


Followed by a small reception with finger foods and drinks.

Please register by July 11 by writing to

Please note that for security reasons you must register in advance and bring your personal ID to the venue. A UN grounds pass is not necessary.

This invitation is available for download here.