‘Nigeria’s Private Sector Crucial to Achieving SDGs’

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Mary Nnah

The private sector remains a crucial sector with countless opportunities to drive the course of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated targets in Nigeria.

This was the submission of Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank Plc during her opening remark, at the one-day summit organised by the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of UN body recently.

She explained that the private sector has a huge contribution to make to the implementation of the SDGs through commitment to seeking shared value and environmentally sustainable ways of operating.

Reacting to the submit theme: “Sustainable Population Growth, Demographic Dividend and the Future of Nigeria: The Role of the Private Sector”, Victor-Lanyan said achieving the SDGs as it relates to better health facilities for pregnant women and youth development will be near impossible without the active involvement of the private sector.

Delivering a keynote address at the summit, Country Representative of the UNFPA, Eugene Kongnyuy said if Nigeria is to achieve the SDGs, especially the health SDGs the private sector must play a key role in collaboration with government and development partners, to address the challenges of inadequate health infrastructure, inadequate equipment, inadequate Human Resources for health, weak supply chain management for medicines and many other factors.

He said while government has the primary responsibility to foster an environment for peace, justice and sustainable development through enabling policies and implementation of enabling laws, business and philanthropy also have a critical role to play.

According to him, no country or institution can solve challenges on its own without collaborating with another. “We must harness the power of the private sector and civil society for shared solutions to complex challenges.

“We need to build an inclusive global partnership, with mutual accountability and a fair sharing of responsibilities. We must leverage our comparative strengths, capacities and resources to achieve meaningful results”, he added.

In a 13-point communique issued at the end of the summit, attended by representatives from Oando Foundation, Coca-Cola Plc, Microsoft, Tolarams Group, West African Gas Pipelines Company, Merck, Pharm Access Foundation, DKT, HACEY Health Initiative, Lagos Business School, Access Bank Plc, Chevron, Nigerian Breweries, and UNICEF, Ondo State Government and several civil society bodies, they resolved to proactively engage NGOs and CSOs, particularly those focused on women, youth and poverty eradication, to form a partnership on reaching out to underserved areas.

Participants unanimously agreed that in carrying out corporate social responsibilities; ensure partnership with civic society organisations and participatory needs assessment of target groups to provide sync between the company’s activities and achievement of the sustainable development goals.

They also resolved to recognise the potentials of young people and harness this strength towards sustainable development through mentoring and more internship opportunities.