Tuesday, January 23, 2018 12:10:30 PM
Jan Melissen and Ries Kamphof :
After last week's UN General Assembly a multitude of planned events in EU countries and in Brussels, including a European Commission Multi-Stakeholder Platform, will keep the spotlight on the UN's 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ambition level for 2030 - only twelve years ahead - is high. Even Sweden has concluded that more than 75% of non-development cooperation targets still require considerable work. The 17 UN SDG goals and 169 targets are obviously the main aims, around which different public and private actors and stakeholders converge.
National ministries of foreign affairs and Federica Mogherini's external action machinery should welcome the somewhat unwieldy SDG saga as an opportunity for diplomatic innovation.
The fabric of tomorrow's diplomacy will increasingly be made up of public/private policy networks, and it is time for Europe's diplomats to invest in their relationships with the business community.
The SDGs are a perfect experiment to test Mogherini's promise to 'deepen partnerships' with the private sector through 'more innovative forms of engagement', as the 2016 EU Global Strategy puts it.
EU officials need a better understanding of their corporate counterparts. The cultural clash between public and private sectors should not be underestimated. Without much counselling available in politics and international relations, diplomats should make sure they get to the bottom of what makes their corporate counterparts tick.
Diplomats and civil servants are a different species from business people; their worldviews diverge and so do the pace and space of their daily routines. The new orthodoxy is that old-style governmental 'policy consultations' have turned into multi-stakeholder partnerships.
They are the bread and butter of the debate on SDGs and are a window for NGOs to influence the authorities. However, the restless business community has a different understanding.
European and EU diplomats should never lose sight of the main drivers of the corporate sector. Companies have a sui generis take on strategic action: their business models are about profit-making, and sustainability aims are not supposed to stand in the way of commercial objectives.
The 2016-17 Volkswagen scandal shows that short-term demands can erode business ethics at the highest levels of management. SDG policies that depend on collaboration by concrete companies have the best chance of becoming successful if they are commercially viable - which is not a typical concern of the public sector.
Nevertheless, there are success stories too. Some of the 2016 climate action campaigns, such as the 'Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action' and the 'High-Level Climate Champions', show that successful bridging of the public/private divide is feasible.
Diplomacy is all about relationships, and the SDG debate illustrates the importance of diplomats and civil servants coming out of their public sector comfort zone. In a growing number of policy areas, they need to figure out how to improve their working relationship with private stakeholders.
Private participants in the diplomatic game are no longer the targets or consumers of government messages and policies, but partners and co-producers of diplomatic outcomes.
SDG-oriented diplomatic collaboration with the private sector should not be considered exceptional but should be viewed as a necessary innovation in diplomacy in accordance with broader patterns of change.
There is nothing traditional about the diplomatic process on sustainability issues. The 'interface cultures' of SDG networks are very different from the hierarchical environments that are historically more familiar to diplomats and civil servants. New rules of engagement are replacing traditional standards of diplomatic behaviour.
National diplomats see that early 21st-century diplomacy is becoming less state-based and that they are no longer at the centre of the public/private networks in which they participate.
European governments and EU institutions, therefore, would benefit from a better understanding of what makes the corporate sector tick, and they need to engage more with their business counterparts.
Interestingly, changing political winds, not just in the United States but also in Europe, offer opportunities for a public/private meeting of minds. In the present 'post-fact' era, the very idea of SDGs and international co-operation is itself challenged by populist movements.
Corporate narratives can complement EU and member states' public diplomacy. It helps when companies explain complex sustainability issues to the public. It enhances the legitimacy of experts when leading business people are forthright in speaking out against the politically-motivated dismissal of facts that are presented as inconvenient opinions of the elites.
A recent development is that we see CEOs raising their voice in support of sound arguments and against populist policies which damage business, such as 'SDG advocates' Paul Polman (Unilever) in Europe and Jack Ma (Alibaba Group) in Asia. No longer unlikely bedfellows, business people and civil servants are becoming more closely connected.
(Jan Melissen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael', Professor of Diplomacy at the University of Antwerp and founding Co-Editor of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy. Ries Kamphof is an Associate Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute).
FINANCE Minister AMA Muhith has recommended Bangladesh Bank to start merger of problem banks, but experts fear that such a move would not stop the rot the country's banking sector is facing. On December 28, Muhith wrote a letter to BB Governor Fazle Kabir pointing out that it was the ...
AFP :Turkey on Monday shelled Kurdish militia targets in Syria and claimed progress in a cross-border offensive that has stoked concern among its allies and neighbours.The Turkish military on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch", its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year civil war.The operation, where Turkish war ...
Bollywood actress Yami Gautam took to Twitter to applaud the victory of India at the Blind Cricket World Cup 2018. India retained Blind Cricket World Cup title after beating Pakistan by two wickets in a thrilling final played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE on Saturday. India had previously ...
Entertainment Report :If he would alive today he will turn into 77. He died on August 21 of 2017. His sudden demise made a gap in the field industry. He was basically a guardian in film arena. Today is birthday of legendary film actor Razzak. Younger son of Razzak, Khalid ...
A NATIONAL daily reported that at least 3,480 Bangladeshi workers died abroad in 2017, mostly due to stroke or heart attack. Unbearable physical and mental stress, workload, malnutrition, ill health care, thin sleep and rest time, and unhygienic living decrease the life expectancy of the Bangladeshi expatriates workers working in ...
World no. one all-rounder rounder Shakib Al Hasan booked his place in the IPL auctions as a 'Marquee' player list with a base price of RS 2 Crore which is the base price for the all 16 elite players in the Marquee Players' list.The star all-rounder Shakib was placed alongside ...
Shreya Ghoshal is known as the melody queen when it comes to romantic songs and her songs are loved by listeners worldwide and this is the reason Shreya is the prime choice for all the film makers whose films are based on romantic theme. Recently Shreya recorded a beautiful romantic ...
Reuters, Amman :Jordan's King Abdullah expressed concern on Sunday over a decision by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying East Jerusalem had to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.In remarks during talks with U.S. Vice Mike Pence in Amman, the king said the only solution to ...
DHAKA and Naypyidaw both are now making final preparations to repatriate and receive the first batch of Rohingya Muslims despite protest from different quarters for not ensuring their security and fearless movement. According to media reports, Rakhine State's Chief Minister Nyi Pu insisted on completion of the finishing touches on ...
Entertainment Desk :National Award winning actress Aparna Ghosh has always been lauded for choosing experimental projects for film. Being popular in small screen, she is famous in big screen as well for her extraordinary acting and simplistic smile.The actor steeped into the media through acting in a TV drama titled ...