PRETORIA, The South African Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, says the private sector possesses the utility, power of innovation and the ability to create solutions to challenges facing the world today.

Speaking at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development held in Singapore on Tuesday, he added that the private sector shared many similar interests and goals as governments in terms of creating more resilient, prosperous and inclusive societies and markets.

He said businesses also need stable societies in order to thrive. Accelerating inclusive growth to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be at the centre of all our deliberations and actions in Singapore [for the next two days of the forum], said Radebe.

He said the plans and thoughts around the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are critical and urgent. In Africa, the dual commitment to the SDGs and to the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 50-year development strategy informs the vision and plan to build a more prosperous and sustainable Africa within the next half century.

We must therefore push so much harder to ensure that we activate business to deliver accelerated impacts on the SDGs through areas such as breakthrough innovation, new business models and meaningful partnerships. However, we are truly up against a wall. We have less than 5,000 days to 2030 to meet and deliver on the SDGs, we need to mobilize businesses to scale up their impacts significantly,” he noted.

We need many more companies to accelerate their investments and business activities to deliver on the global goals. As governments we must commit to do the necessary, to provide the necessary regulatory environment and the requisite policy certainty required over this time.

Radebe said governments needed to commit to the long term much more prodigiously and consciously. Public-private partnerships have the capacity to promote and spur innovation and leverage new technologies that can then be scaled up or replicated for wider impact.

By 2030, he said, about 60 per cent of Africans will be living in cities, with numbers as high as 80 per cent in some countries.

This rapid urbanization is an excellent opportunity for public-private partnerships to direct investment towards creating more sustainable cities, new employment opportunities through innovation, entrepreneurship, and improved health and sanitation systems.

We have witnessed public-private partnerships have led to new transportation infrastructure in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. This served to link millions of people in cities and providing cleaner and more energy-efficient means of transport.

To date, approximately 64 countries have voluntarily reported on their implementation of the SDGs with about 43 of them sharing their national experiences at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, in September 2017.