7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Yours and Mine – Investing in Development is everyone’s Business!

Yours and Mine – Investing in Development is everyone’s Business!

It's time to do away with the myth that development lies only in the hands of traditional actors such as CSOs and government agencies!

EDD17 - Replay - Yours and Mine – Investing in Development is everyone’s Business!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 16:00 to 17:30

Key points

  • Putting people and the planet before profit should be the new norm for the private sector if development aims are to be achieved.
  • Young people are passionate about socially responsible businesses that connect them as the ultimate consumer with primary producers, such as tea growers and farmers.
  • The era of the public sector versus the private sector is becoming a thing of the past. They no longer have to view each other with suspicion but look for areas where they can collaborate together.
  • Public officials must be prepared to take risks and accept criticism if they are to convince the public to accept what may on the face of it seem unpopular programmes.


The role of the private sector in driving the agenda for change is a reflection of the times. As the development community looks to the future, corporate responsibility is emerging as a new force in social investment. Such participation would not have seemed possible even in the recent past, but it is now seen as the way forward for sustainable development. In short, putting people and the planet before profit must become a mantra for businesses.

The desire for the private sector to take action is strongest when viewed in terms of modern pressures such as climate change and poverty alleviation. Take the Ikea Foundation, for example. It started by looking at the position of children and how to help them out of poverty. In doing that, they realised there was a knock-on effect in tackling climate change.

A clean cooking initiative was developed to improve the health of women and children who suffered by meals prepared in smoky environments. Households spend up to 15 % of their limited income on kerosene and other fuels that give off fumes responsible for more deaths a year than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. By investing in clean cooking stoves and solar energy, the Ikea Foundation’s programme has made a contribution to combatting climate change.

The Nepal Tea company started by encouraging local farmers to pool their land for a tea plantation and now employs more than 600 farmers. The full-time farmers are given free housing and subsidised necessities, and the company has now invested in a cow bank. The project started by providing 34 cows to community farmers. This provided an extra source of income, enabling the farmers to sell the diary produce to local markets and the manure to the Tea Company. The only condition is that farmers were asked to donate the first-born calf to the bank. As a result, the bank has been able to provide cows to 176 farmers.

To create such opportunities requires removing unwarranted middlemen from the business chain and connecting the primary producers to the final consumers. The profits generated saved can then be used for social investment in the farmers themselves. These are the values that young people, the millennials, are passionate about.

The success of encouraging companies to build sustainable development into their business model does not absolve public authorities of their legislative or regulatory responsibilities; they are still required to set the framework within which responsible businesses operate.

However, it does require the public sector to take risks. Elected representatives have to be brave enough to not go with the flow and sometimes allow criticism if they are to convince the public to accept the long-term benefits of what might seem on the face of it to be unpopular programmes. 


While the era of private versus public sector is over and businesses are investing in socially responsible programmes, local authorities still need to create the developmental framework within which businesses operate.

Organised by

    Deepali Sood
    Director, Resource Development
    Habitat for Humanity International
    Tijani Najeh
    Acting Director of Operations
    Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa
    Roland Ries
    Mayor of Strasbourg
    Jeffrey Prins
    Program Manager
    Ikea Foundation
    Ulrika Modéer
    State Secretary for International Development
    Government of Sweden
    Nishchal Banskota
    EDD Young Leader, Nepal
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