Millennium Development Goals Awards Committee Press Conference and Luncheon
New York, New York - September 12, 2008. Luncheon Speech by Mr. Nasruddin Rupani, Chairman, Rupani Foundation, Houston, Texas
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said, “We cannot accomplish the Millennium Development Goals alone.”
Therefore, we must engage governments, civil society, the not-for-profit sector, multilateral development organizations, the public and, especially, businessmen and women and entrepreneurs. We all recognize that a lot is being done, but we need to do much more to accomplish the MDGs by 2015. Yet we must be realistic in our expectations. This means that we acknowledge some fundamental facts:
- First, business enterprises should continue to make efforts to be fair in their employment and trade practices, while still be responsible to their shareholders and the bottom line. They are more likely to invest resources to increase returns to their shareholders—rather than tackle social challenges, such as poverty. BUT IF WE CAN SHOW THEM A PRUDENT WAY TO REDUCE POVERTY AND TO MAKE A PROFIT AT THE SAME TIME, THEN THEY WILL INVEST.
- Second, the general public wants to help. But their options are limited and, quite frankly, the average person outside of a UN-affiliated organization has never even heard of the Millennium Development Goals. How can they support something of which they know nothing?
- Third, the NGO community is working diligently to fulfill their respective missions. But they must spend substantial front-end resources to raise funds to finance their work. NGOs could structure entrepreneurial programs that can repay investors, but not all NGOs have the expertise to orchestrate people, technologies, and money—nor the capacity for program implementation.
- Fourth, governments can foster economic and non-economic opportunities. But they too are limited because of tightening resources and the urgency to respond to the growing needs of their citizen-customers. Outside of the traditional ways to involve people or businesses, government agencies do not have creative, innovative vehicles to exploit and publicize opportunities, mobilize support from businesspeople and entrepreneurs, and accelerate the development of their constituencies.
- Finally, there is no forum where governments, NGOs, UN agencies, business, and the concerned public can convene for the sole purpose of addressing their respective challenges through public-private partnerships. EACH ORGANIZATION HAS ITS OWN SILO: a silo for government, a silo for NGOs, a silo for multilateral agencies, and a silo for corporations. BUT THERE IS NOTHING THAT ENCOURAGES AND INVITES THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO COMMUNICATE, TO COLLABORATE, AND TO COOPERATE—THEREBY INITIATE AND EXECUTE BOLD, CREATIVE, AND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO BOOST DEVELOPMENT.
As an example, the Rupani Foundation has worked with the MDG Awards Committee and leaders in each of the silos to develop a revolutionary program that engenders public-private partnerships.
We call it the Millennium Alliances Portal (MAP).
We believe this novel approach will assess and match the needs AND resources of businesspeople and entrepreneurs for investment return—yielding opportunities and outcomes that will enable all of us to contribute to the MDGs.
We also believe that MAP is a nexus that will give the signatories of the Principles for Responsible Investment a way to say, “YES!” instead of “No!. It will also provide a means for individuals and companies to donate time, knowledge, money, and credibility on a global scale.
In conclusion, we view MAP as a collaboration strategy for the 21st century. As Chairman of the Rupani Foundation, I want to say that we for one are fully committed to partner closely with the MDG Awards Committee. Our joint aim is to bring the MDGs to the attention of the global public and the global marketplace—and, yes, to help change the world.