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IESE teams with United Nations for sustainable infrastructure forum

6th UNECE International Public-Private Partnership Forum takes place May 4-6

Speaking at the opening of the 6th UNECE International PPP Forum are (from left to right): Laia Bonet, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona; IESE Prof. Nuria Mas; and Elisabeth Tuerk, Director of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Division of UNECE. Photo: Roger Rovira

May 3, 2022

IESE has teamed up with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), with the support of the Barcelona City Council, to hold a three-day conference on ways the public and private sectors can work together to build sustainable infrastructure that puts people first.

The 6th UNECE International PPP Forum takes place May 4-6, bringing together representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. The official theme of the event is “The role of people-first PPPs for the SDGs in delivering sustainable infrastructure to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”

IESE’s PPP for Cities, led by Prof. Joan Enric Ricart, has organized the conference, which is normally held in Geneva. Ricart, along with PPP for Cities Executive Director Alicia Plana, will also moderate sessions during the event.

“This conference reinforces IESE’s commitment to sustainability at a global level. Sustainable public-private partnerships in cities are absolutely crucial in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and in improving people’s lives,” Ricart said. “We’re bringing together officials from the public sector, private companies and civil organizations to share best practices and map out the way forward.”

Speaking at the opening of the event, officials from the organizing institutions agreed on the importance of the three elements in the theme: sustainable infrastructure, public-private partnerships and people first.

Elisabeth Tuerk, director of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Division of UNECE, said in the opening session that at a time when the world is emerging from the pandemic, rebuilding infrastructure is key. “Public-private partnerships in terms of infrastructure investment and infrastructure financing is really very relevant now,” she said. And plays an essential an essential role in overall development, added Olga Algayerova, executive secretary of UNECE:  “Infrastructure is crucial to social and economic develop for our people.”

“We have a responsibility to place people front and center in our policies and business models,” added Laia Bonet, deputy mayor of Barcelona, and public-private partnerships can be a way to do that. “The pandemic has showed this transformative capacity” of the public and private sectors working together, she said.

Sessions on climate change, circular economy, green procurement and more

The three-day conference will feature two dozen sessions on topics including climate change, the circular economy, digital transformation, sustainable finance, green procurement and the blue economy — and how these issues can be approached through people-first public-private partnerships.

There will also be a highly practical element, featuring case studies from around the world that aspire to comply with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and with environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.

The UNECE People-first PPP Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs – an ESG matrix available to governments and other stakeholders as a self-assessment tool – will be used for each of these projects to assess their compliance with the five outcomes of the UNECE People-first PPPs for the SDGs, namely:

  1. Increase access to essential services and lessen social inequality and injustice;
  2. Improve economic effectiveness (including women’s empowerment) and fiscal sustainability of projects;
  3. Enhance resilience in projects and more care with the environment;
  4. Promote replicability and the development of further projects; and
  5. Fully involve all stakeholders in the projects.

The Forum will also offer a platform to other stakeholders – centers of excellence, civil society organizations, academia, international organizations, and the private sector – to present their work in a series of side events.

The UN recently released a report highlighting that long-term infrastructure investment can lay the foundations for sustainable development in member states. The report said that to improve the sustainability of infrastructure and public services, such investments must be aligned with the SDGs.

For IESE, all of these issues have formed a part of what the PPP for Cities has been teaching and researching for many years. “Here at IESE we’ve been deeply committed for a very long time to all these practices,” said Prof. Nuria Mas during the opening session.