While corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR) continues to fuel radical change in business and philanthropic models, reputation management and employee engagement, CR alone is not enough to mitigate pressing social issues and consequences of climate change. Despite contributions from the private and public sector, the social, cultural and environmental circumstances of populations in under-developed markets remain complex and unsustainable. A recap of the daunting realities we face include:
- Water: Nearly 800 million people lack dependable access to clean water and about 2.5 billion people lack access to modern sanitation, putting them at risk of disease;
- Hunger: About 1 billion people across the globe go to bed hungry every night, 200 million of them are children;
- Education: 60 million children are deprived of access to education;
- Blindness: 45 million blind and 135 million visually impaired people live around the world, of which 90 percent live in under-developed countries;
- Poverty: 61 percent of Africa’s one billion people live on less than $2 a day;
- Climate Change: Driven by fossil fuel use and deforestation, is undermining the livelihoods of millions of people.
Meanwhile, corporations are continuing to explore growth, investment and social impact opportunities overseas including China, Asia and now Africa is the new spotlight. These markets represent the four billion people who live in poverty and potential customers for new products and services.
Africa is Rising: Africa is the world’s fastest growing region after emerging Asia with Africans expected to number 2 billion by 2050. By 2020, more than half of African households are projected to have discretionary income: 85m-130m. This economic expansion is fostering new approaches for development challenges while providing the opportunity to lift millions out of poverty. The Obama administration recently launched a ‘Doing Business in Africa’ initiative to promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa.
The Power of NGOs: NGOs have become increasingly influential in world affairs, and the World Bank estimates that more than 15 percent of total overseas development aid is channeled through NGOs. They are the new leaders for the conscious movement representing broad public interest, expertise in the field, tackling complex social and environmental issues. NGOs are developing new standards for community change and impact, have the connections with local governments and businesses to change policies. Non-profits are diversifying funding sources, becoming less reliant on government funding, and seeking long-term partnerships with corporations.
The Role of Public-Private Partnerships: Corporations continue to be challenged by developing solutions for sustainable, long term change to scale. Further dedication of resources toward more inclusive private and public partnerships is critical for improving livelihoods and represents considerable benefits for both parties including co-designing community-driven and owned models, building quality programs, skills training and job creation.
The collective power of partnerships’ are fundamental to properly understanding and navigating the economic, social and political circumstances of our most vulnerable communities in need.
Corporations, supported by NGOs and governments, have profound shared values and our society cannot progress, break new ground, or mitigate our pressing world issues without greater collaboration.
By Samantha Taylor