Civil society & business: pulling in the same direction? Volume 8, Issue 1. Winter 2018/2019

This edition of Great Insights magazine explores how civil society organisations and businesses can work together for more socially and environmentally sustainable value chains.

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    Civil society & business: pulling in the same direction? – Editorial

    Engaging with companies: Pragmatic idealism
    Lies Craeynest, Head of Private Sector Engagement, Oxfam International
    Times are changing rapidly. To stay relevant, organisations need to keep up and adjust the way they operate. Sometimes this means stepping outside of institutional comfort zones and taking a leap into the unknown. A case in point is the way NGOs like Oxfam deal with the private sector. This topic has stimulated much soul-searching and continued internal and external debates. These processes of reflection and exchange are invaluable, because the questions we are dealing with are vital. We cannot afford to approach them lightly. Oxfam works with companies in complex ways, testing and trying ways of engagement to have a greater positive impact.

    Moving beyond conflict: the critical role of collaborative partnerships in tackling abuses in minerals supply chains
    Julian Lageard, Director of Corporate Government Affairs for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Intel

    Assembling governments, industry and civil society together in a partnership is an effective way to identify and address conflict, social abuses such as child and forced labour, and environmental abuses like mercury pollution at mines. However, such collaboration does not come without challenges. Intel’s Julian Lageard zooms in on the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals.

    Seven principles for effective and healthy multi-stakeholder partnerships
    Herman Brouwer, senior advisor, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, Minu Hemmati, associate at the MSP Institute eV in Berlin, Germany and Jim Woodhill, consultant at AgriFoodNexus, Oxford, UK.
    Most policymakers, businesspeople and civil society representatives at sustainability conferences today are heard calling for more stakeholder engagement. Academics increasingly agree that solutions for sustainable development require cross-sector communication and partnerships. In fact, multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) seem to be a favourite strategy for dealing with the challenges of sustainable development. Despite this enthusiasm we shouldn’t be naïve. Getting people to work together towards common goals is never easy. Partnership is especially daunting when diverse and competing interests, perspectives and values are at stake, and different organisational and cultural contexts involved. It is not as simple as just sticking people in a room and hoping for the best.

    Non-profits and business team up for land governance in Sierra Leone
    Interview with Nicholas Jengre, Solidaridad country manager for Sierra Leone
    Since 2016, the civil society organisation Solidaridad and the company Natural Habitats Sierra Leone (NHSL) have joined forces for land rights, livelihoods and sustainable business practices. The collaboration was enabled through the DFID-funded LEGEND programme. ECDPM’s Jeske van Seters and Poorva Karkare interviewed Nicholas Jengre, Solidaridad country manager for Sierra Leone, to learn about this collaboration and tease out early lessons from the partnership experience.

    Multi-stakeholder platform delivers ‘a minor miracle’
    Lorena Sorrentino, senior project manager, CSR Europe

    A very diverse group of stakeholders, known as the EU multi-stakeholder platform on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), managed to agree on four key areas for support to enterprises. ‘A minor miracle’, declared the First Vice-President of the European Commission. According to the platform, the next EU leadership should focus on sustainable consumption and production, people’s skills, human rights and promoting transparent and trustworthy approaches.

    Sustainable Business for Africa (SB4A): a platform for improving the investment climate through dialogue between governments, businesses and civil society
    Having a skilled workforce gives a major boost to a country’s investment climate. Through its External Investment Plan (EIP), the European Union is supporting initiatives to develop and improve of vocational education. In Côte d’Ivoire, dialogue between local businesses, chambers of commerce and vocational training experts has honed vocational training to employers’ needs.

    The sustainability dilemma in competition law
    Giancarlo Piscitelli, research assistant, Utrecht University School of Law and Anna Gerbrandy professor of law, economics and governance,Utrecht University School of Law
    The business world is inherently dynamic, as demonstrated by the growing number of collective agreements involving companies and other stakeholders – such as civil society organisations – aimed at fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, these agreements can put companies on a head-on collision course with European competition law. Giancarlo Piscitelli and Anna Gerbrandy spell out possible avenues to accommodate such agreements in competition law, thus integrating sustainability initiatives.

    Africapitalism and partnerships for the SDGs: what we can learn from the Unilever-GBF partnership in Nigeria
    Kenneth Amaeshi, Director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, Uwafiokun Idemudia, Professor of Development Studies and African Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada and Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien, Founder and President of the Growing Businesses Foundation

    Africapitalism is about how the private sector can contribute to sustainable development in Africa, underpinned by the values of long-termism and inclusion. It recognises that the business case for sustainability depends on the stake a company has in the economy it operates in. Unilever put these principles into practice. It adopted a partnership approach with the Growing Business Foundation. Both collaborators utilised their internal resources and external relationships to catalyse a grassroots revolutionary network of mini-distributors. In doing so, Unilever made inroads in sales to the remotest rural areas, while rural communities gained not only access to new products, but also income generating opportunities and improved livelihoods.

    Partners for good: what two African dairy companies can teach us about partnership with NGOs
    Poorva Karkare, Policy Officer, Private Sector Engagement Team of the Economic and Agricultural Transformation programme, ECDPM

    CSO-business partnerships are vital to achieve sustainable development. But policymakers and development practitioners still struggle to pinpoint what it takes to make these collaborations work. While there is no magic formula for success, the context of a partnership can tell us a great deal about its chances of achieving its aims. ECDPM’s Poorva Karkare interviewed Nancy Jones Abeiderrahmane of Tiviski (Mauritania) and Nathaniel Makoni of African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management Ltd (Kenya), two private dairy companies that have partnered with international NGOs to further their business. Their stories provide interesting contrasts and valuable lessons for the future.

    Partnerships for sustainable development: the monitoring and evaluation challenge
    Leda Stott, Specialist in multi-actor collaboration and sustainable development
    Partnerships are widely promoted as vehicles for achieving Sustainable Development Goal targets. We therefore need to do much more to assess how the process of partnering contributes to partnership effectiveness and their potential for transformation.

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