The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

The Business of Development – Confederation of Danish Industry

Speech by Grete Faremo, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS, delivered at the session "17 Global Goals - a wealth of opportunity", Copenhagen, 18 March 2016

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Your Royal Highness, Minister, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for organizing the conference on "Business in development" and the invitation to address you all today!

I come as the Executive Director of UNOPS, but I also have experience from 10 years as Government Minister in Norway and  more than 10 years in the private sector—insurance and ICT—in addition to 10 years in international development.

2015 was a transformational year.  All UN Member States adopted 17 new SDGs. In Paris, all countries agreed to ambitious goals for how to fight climate change.

The Goals are global. All nations have committed to the 2030 Agenda.

Wednesday we all heard from you, Kristian Jensen, (Minister of Foreign Affairs) that Denmark is among "the fit five" (Nordics + Switzerland) regarding the successful implementation of the SDGs.

The very question deriving from this statement is—of course—what about the other 190+ countries?  We certainly have a big task ahead of us!

Your message was clear: "Governments alone cannot secure the implementation.  All stakeholders must join.  We need partnerships across all competences and sectors."  

This conference offers an opportunity to discuss how.

How do we finance the implementation of the Global Goals, as was also discussed in Addis Ababa last year?

Successful implementation will require funding far beyond ODA!

There are three pillars:  National resource mobilization (taxes), ODA and the private sector. Private sector funding, also in emerging markets, is key!

Sustainable infrastructure needs—only towards 2030—will amount to more than 1 trillion USD per year! 

Citizens will benefit—infrastructure facilitates growth and creates opportunities for new jobs. It will, of course, also create enormous opportunities for the private sector. It will require new and true partnerships where all partners share the risks.

ODA will only be a small portion of what is needed, but important and can be instrumental.

It requires the "smart use" of ODA. This smart use of development aid can be used to de-risk some of the apparent commercial risks involved in new markets.

UNOPS is the UN Office for Project Services. Our headquarters are in Copenhagen (we are the only UN organization headquartered here), but we work in more than 80 countries and have more than 11,000 personnel around the world.

Our mandate covers infrastructure, project management and procurement.

UNOPS is unique in the UN:  No subsidies or core funding.  We don't appear in your budget, Minister. We are only paid for the projects we do, the services we deliver. Our turnover was $1.4 billion in 2015, our best year ever!

UNOPS strengths are our local presence and successful project implementation for more than 20 years in our mandated areas.

We are much private sector like. 

All stakeholders need to get their acts together! 

Let me give you one example: Governments work together to promote development in developing countries. Donor governments have already established development financial institutions, investing in the private sector in emerging markets. Donor governments may "de-risk" bankable projects by taking a first loss risk to attract investors. Private-pension funds in Denmark—and other European countries—have already adopted bold goals for high sustainability investments. They need to play safe to protect our pensions.  But a sustainable future for all requires investing in sustainability for real, we cannot only focus on "safe markets" in OECD countries. 

Single funds won't go alone to break new frontiers and take all the risk.  We need to come together, public and private.

UNOPS works with governments, as well as other UN agencies.  We want to partner and develop new tools to help "de-risk" projects for investors using our local knowledge and solid performance. 

The UN must play a smart role to promote UN values in implementation.  UNOPS therefore works with other UN agencies on how to secure sustainability aspects in all projects.

Whether we talk about renewable energy, ICT infrastructure, solid roads, social housing, solid waste management (and I could continue), sustainable projects can be taken to scale and therefore be attractive for investors only if de-risking is done right.

UNOPS is now exploring the opportunities for new and true partnerships. 

True partnerships will be key to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda—key to a sustainable future for all!

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