Remarks by UNDP Country Director at the Launch of the UN Global Compact Local Network's Business for Peace Initiative

Aug 27, 2014

The Honourable Minister of State for Investment

The Chairman, Global Compact Network Uganda

The Chair, Business Against Crime Uganda

The Country Director, International Alert

Distinguished Business Leaders

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to be with this morning as you launch the Business for Peace Initiative in Uganda.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has on numerous occasions said, ‘there can be no peace without development … no development without peace … and neither can be achieved without full respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The “Business for Peace” (B4P) business leadership platform was launched at the UN Leaders’ Summit by the UN Secretary-General, with the aim of expanding and deepening the private sector’s action in support of peace - in the workplace, marketplace and local communities. The platform assists companies in implementing responsible business practices aligned with the UN Global Compact Ten Principles in conflict-affected and high-risk areas with the aim of catalyzing action to advance peace.

As a vital driver of innovation, investment and job creation, the role of private sector is crucial in advancing the progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on the post-2015 development agenda.

Working closely with the Private Sector Foundation (PSF), UNDP has supported the development of business and enterprise, especially the growth of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

The Private Sector Foundation (PSF) itself, is a baby of UNDP, and we are proud to see that it has come of age and is now running independently and smoothly without our support.

Other UN agencies (such as UNIDO/IFAD) have provided various support to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Investment and other government agencies that work closely with the Private Sector to deepen its contribution to the development of Uganda.

However, a lot remains to be done to bridge the income and wealth inequality gap in the country.

Northern Uganda, which suffered years of conflict and insurgency has some of the worst human development indicators, and continues to lag behind the rest of the country. In this region, men, women and children have fewer opportunities for employment, education, good nutrition, or healthcare. Left unchecked, such deep inequality and exclusion has potential to cause conflict and to undermine peace and stability in the region and the country.

UNDP is working to address these human vulnerabilities in partnership with Government, the local communities and development partners. But there is still room for more collaboration, and I would like to call upon members of the Business for Peace initiative to join the effort, and invest your time, your resources, and your expertise to create the right opportunities that will make a difference in this country.

I also appeal to the business community to join us in addressing the increasingly growing youth unemployment problem. An estimated 400,000 youth are released annually in to the job market to compete for about 9,000 available jobs, according to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Part of this problem is caused by the mismatch between the skills offered in training institutions and those required by employers.

As a result, many young people today are denied jobs because they lack relevant skills and experience. But where can they obtain this experience if they are not employed? As business people and employers, you can invest in a great youth workforce by giving young people a chance to work for you, and to learn from you.

Another important challenge I would like to highlight briefly in my remarks, is the problem of Corruption. In 2005, the World Bank estimated the losses to corruption at USD 204 million.

Unfortunately the private sector has not been immune to the vice. Procurement in the public sector is a major area plagued by corruption involving award of contracts to the private sector. Corruption in taxation also involves the private sector. The costs of corruption however, are borne by ordinary Ugandans who are deprived of good quality services.

I therefore call on the members of the Business for Peace initiative in Uganda to get actively involved in contributing to ending corruption in Uganda.

Let me take the opportunity to congratulate the members of the Business for Peace for taking the steps to launch the initiative in Uganda. We look forward to working with you in support of peace and development in Uganda.

Thank you for listening.

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