As we look to the 2030 agenda, we must take an honest look at the challenges at hand, particularly on how the past could hold up our future.
At the recent UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit UNGC Executive Director Lise Kingo reminded us that we have only around 5,000 days before we reach 2030, the deadline for achieving the Global Goals. This means we need “all hands on deck” to work together focused on the future we want.
In the past few months, I have heard time and again that the collaboration described in Goal 17 is crucial to progress. But I find myself wondering if the collaboration we need is being held back by what we are all “carrying”– our history, preconceptions, previous confrontations and potentially simply out-dated ideas or notions – especially when it comes to business-civil society relationships.
Business used to be seen as the “bad guys”. Our friend Niel Golightly, reflecting on his time at Ford in the early 2000s, notes how NGOs were driving the agenda for corporates at that time - applying adversarial pressure to challenge how business was done.
The nature of such relationships has undoubtedly changed. But in 2017, we are still, too often, wrestling with hostility between civil society and business.
In recent months, I have seen first-hand examples of businesses unable to work together, and NGO and civil society politics impeding progress. I have found organisations whose purpose is to drive positive change but whose leaders tell me there can be no partnership with particular businesses, only “punishment”, despite the potential for the company to scale up impact.