17 July 2015

Reflections on the UN Financing for Development Conference in Addis

http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/ffd3/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/FfD_Logo-140.pngThis week over 7000 participants from all over the world gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Third International Conference on Finance for Development (FFD). Someone called it the biggest conference having been held in Africa ever. Certainly, Addis was in 'FFD-fever', hotel prices skyrocketed and conference rooms were overfilled.

On 13 July 2015 the UN Secretary-General Ban opened the gathering with the challenge: 'World leaders must put aside "narrow self-interest" to break a deadlock over how to finance the United Nation's bold new global development agenda'.

While the official, governmental discussions continued in the main conference rooms, over 200 side events were held. International organizations, governments, private sector, civil society and academia shared their perspectives.

After days of negotiations delegates agreed on an outcome document. A UN statement praised it as historic agreement to generate financing for the new sustainable development agenda. Ban summarized: "The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is a major step forward in building a world of prosperity and dignity for all.”

There are already several good summaries done on the outcome, such as from the UN, UNDP, ODI, the Guardian and Devex. Therefore I don't want to add another substance analysis but did a small innovation. How to get the essence of the outcome document with over 130 articles? Out of curiosity, I did a word count of key works and a 'wordle':

302x development
251x countries,
214x finance/financial/financing,
155x sustainable,
77x investment,
63x debt,
59x cooperation,
53x trade,
52x technology,
35x tax
34x infrastructure,
28x partnership.
"The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell."— Dag Hammarskj√∂ld, fromer UN Secretary-General
Personally to me, FFD3 was a demonstration that the UN and it's processes remain relevant and critically important. Who else could bring together officials from 193 countries with all types of stakeholders from society and business? Who else can facilitate global dialogue on most complex issues?

Is this sufficient to solve the world problems? Of course not. It will take even greater ambition, leadership and self responsibility by everyone to translate aspirations into reality. The new sustainable development goals (SDGs), to be signed off in September at a special UN summit, will be a new shared ambition of global leaders to make sustainable development a reality.

05 June 2015

This Blog is transforming - towards Changemakers and Leadership
"We must look within ourselves..." Nelson Mandela

After more than 8 years as a blog focused on "business as a force for good", this blog is transforming.

Mirroring my own personal and professional development, it is time to look beyond business. Yes, business is a major force for change and development. So what force then, is stronger? People. Changemakers and leaders. You don't need a title to be a leader.

Each person is a CEO, each of us a boss. Aware of it or not, each of us is the boss of our own life. This translates to greater self-responsibility and self-power. If one is less aware of this fact, they might not see themselves as the creator of their own destiny, but rather consider themselves as a consequence of their circumstances, upbringing, interactions with other people, etc… but that is only part of the 'story', at best.

There is increasing awareness that each of us is indeed THE change agent in our life. This relates back to leadership since at the core, we first lead our own life before we lead those of others. Because how can you authentically lead others if not by example?

Long story short, transformational leadership and self-empowering approaches have captured my imagination. I myself have seen the transformational changes that insights and breakthroughs from within can cause. I have also seen the non-effectiveness and lack of sustainability of superficial 'outside' aid.

Two examples, one from the the UN and the other about aid vs. self-development:
1) I have seen UN colleagues overcome deep frustration and blossom at work, after participating in a transformational leadership program. 2) Or take Youchaou Traore from Mali, who was this tree child and became an entrepreneur, a school and NGO director due to his passion, perseverance and can-do attitude. Those opportunities were not afforded to him otherwise.

Therefore, the Business4Good blog is going into hibernation. Something new about transformational leadership is going to arise... as a butterfly does from a caterpillar.