Clark: UNDP International centre for private sector in Istanbul

11 Mar 2011

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

Remarks on the occasion of the launch of the UNDP International Centre for Private Sector in Development in Istanbul
Istanbul, 11 March 2011, 3pm

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It is a pleasure to be here to preview what will soon be home to the UNDP Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development.

At UNDP we look forward to opening the Centre together with the Government of Turkey. The Centre will be a very visible demonstration of our joint commitment to take our partnership to a new level. Thanks are due in particular to Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs; State Minister, Cevdet Yilmaz; Mr. Kemal Madenoglu, Under-Secretary of the State Planning Organization; and Mr. Musa Kulaklikaya, President of TIKA.

We would not be here today without their support and continued efforts to advance our partnership and this Centre.

This morning a new Partnership Framework Agreement between the Government of Turkey and UNDP was signed. In it we express our shared commitment to support countries around the world to accelerate progress to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Our agreement reflects and draws on Turkey’s global and widely recognized role as a nation which has convening power and a large and growing economy, and is an important contributor to international development cooperation.

Put that together with UNDP’s global presence across the developing world and our decades of development practice in diverse settings, and we have a powerful combination of skills and resources for development.

Establishing this UNDP Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development was identified as an area for cooperation in the new partnership agreement.

It will serve as a centre of excellence for how to engage the private sector in development and how to enhance its impact. It will be a source of expertise on building the kinds of business models which are positive for new home-grown businesses and for creating more jobs and livelihoods.

The events which have swept across a number of the Arab States just this year remind us of the importance of inclusive and sustainable growth and development. People in country after country are calling not only for new freedoms and an end to injustice, but also for the chance to earn a decent wage and improve their standard of living. To meet their aspirations, countries need dynamic and competitive businesses creating jobs and spurring innovation.

Yet economic growth, while critical, is by itself never enough. Human development progress is best advanced by growth whose fruits are broadly shared and which is job-rich. Getting that broader distributional impact also requires smart public policy.

The private sector itself has a critical role to play in fostering inclusive growth. Its business models can be particularly positive for development when, for example, they open up opportunities for local entrepreneurs in their value chains, and commit to skills development for local employees.

Through its involvement in the Business Call to Action, UNDP sees many companies making conscious decisions to purchase locally, thereby helping communities to grow small businesses from the micro level and up and generate new jobs and livelihoods.

This kind of business model helps spread the benefits of growth to greater numbers of people – including those who have hit her to not been able to benefit from their country’s development. The approach goes far beyond traditional concepts of corporate responsibility. The companies implementing it fully appreciate that business models can be developed to get wins for both their bottom line and for local development.

The goods and services provided by businesses can also be intrinsically very positive for development. The role of information and communication technologies, for example, creates new platforms for education, health, and government services – as well as opening up access to financial services and lowering the cost of doing business. Banking via the cell phone is an obvious spin off, as are e-government, linking up students with their teachers and the wider world, and linking remote health clinics with specialist diagnosis.

Similarly, investment in critical infrastructure like energy generation and transmission has a huge role to play in attracting investment, building businesses, and generating jobs and incomes.

Governments can play their part, for example, by

  • creating a positive enabling environment for growth,
  • lifting the quality of education, improving access to it and ensuring that both the economy and society at large are supplied with the skills they need to function well; and by
  • mobilizing the domestic resources which growth makes possible for further investment into the virtuous cycle of development.

As well, all types of businesses this century will need to become cleaner and greener, in order to sustain the ecosystems of our planet on which all life depends. Government policy settings have a significant role to play in ensuring that that transition is made.

UNDP works alongside government partners and the private sector on inclusive growth and business models. We can help to connect local, national, and global actors, and identify approaches which will create value for businesses and advance MDG progress.

There are outstanding examples of inclusive approaches in Turkey and other countries in the broad UNDP region of transition Europe and Central Asia. Take, for example, the textile industry entrepreneur in this country who invested in poorer regions. Through the lower labour costs available, and with government incentives, this business became profitable and generated new jobs and opportunities, especially for local women.

UNDP also supports developing countries to break into markets in ways which directly lift the living standards of the poor.

Through our Green Commodities Facility, UNDP is helping the Government of Ghana and Kraft-Cadbury reach agreement on an initiative to strengthen extension services for cocoa farmers in Ghana. That supports the farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices which increase the market value of their produce, and gives the companies access to the expanding global green markets for goods and services.

Fiji offers another example. There, UNDP and ANZ Bank worked together to expand commercial banking services. ANZ developed innovative ways of expanding services to new communities and small businesses. To complement that, UNDP supported the provision of financial literacy training, which to date, has benefited more than 15,000 Fijians.

Shortly, Kori Udovički, our director for Europe and the CIS, will be launching the first UNDP report on growing inclusive markets in this region. It contains studies of this approach from nineteen countries.

Through the new Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development UNDP and Turkey will together take forward our shared goal of engaging the private sector in inclusive human development.

I once again thank the Government of Turkey for generously providing this location to host the Centre. Turkey’s dynamic private sector, its track record of international development cooperation, and its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia make it a logical location for the centre.

The new Centre’s activities will benefit from UNDP and Turkey’s enhanced partnership, from Turkey’s able leadership in helping to accelerate MDG progress in countries around the world, and from UNDP’s global development experience over many decades.