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AfricaMoney | August 18, 2017

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Africa: New IDS Research Centre to explore role of business and development

Africa: New IDS Research Centre to explore role of business and development

This Centre will provide new evidence on what works and how business, government and development agencies can work much more coherently together to achieve real changes to people’s lives. (Image: IDS)

Business leaders, international charities and development agencies were urged in London at the launch of the new IDS Business and Development Centre on Tuesday to explore more effective ways to work together to fight global poverty.

A global charity for international development research, teaching and communications, IDS partnered for the launch with Business Fights Poverty, a worldwide network of experts and practitioners from businesses, government agencies and civil society organizations.

At the event, leading development experts, senior members of the business community and international NGOs gathered to discuss a more systematic approach for collaboration.

The new Centre will focus on three sectors namely: agriculture, food and nutrition, health, and green growth – and also build on IDS’ track record in producing cutting edge research on industrial policy, finance and investment, markets and regulation, service delivery and value chains.

In 2015, the international community will agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, as the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draw to a close.

World leaders have already identified the central role of the private sector in tackling global poverty and promoting equitable growth.

“There has been a rapid growth in interest in harnessing business for social impact – from across business, government and civil society: companies developing new business models that combine commercial success and development impact, governments encouraging enterprise solutions to social issues, and civil society organisations partnering with companies to deliver economic, social and environment benefits. Yet we need to do more to strengthen the knowledge and connectivity of those seeking to harness business to fight poverty,” said the founder of Business Fights Poverty, Zahid Torres-Rahman.

“The new Business and Development Centre will make an important contribution to deepening our understanding of how to most effectively harness the potential of business. The Centre will put us collectively in a stronger position to have an impact at scale,” he added.

The new analysis from IDS suggests that existing approaches are piecemeal and small-scale, and there is little understanding around what is effective and what will have a genuine and positive impact on the world’s poorest communities.

“It is becoming widely accepted that economic growth does not automatically lift people out of poverty. But generic approaches to engaging with businesses around development do not work. We need to understand where business can support solutions to development challenges around specific sectoral issues. Likewise, businesses can learn much from our knowledge of the reality on the ground in developing countries,” said the director of the new Business and Development Centre, John Humphrey.

“This Centre will provide new evidence on what works and how business, government and development agencies can work much more coherently together to achieve real changes to people’s lives,” he added.

However, a lack of understanding of where business and societal interests can be better aligned over issues like climate change, food security and health pandemics, means that the role of businesses in the post-2015 development framework is far from clear.

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