Australian NGOs working with private sector to achieve sustainable development outcomes

Media Releases, News article written on the 28 Nov 2017

Today, Mr Ewen McDonald, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade opened the fifth Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) Learning Forum. The theme for this year is ‘Partnering for Impact’ which explored how Australian NGOs are working with the private sector to achieve sustainable development outcomes. Oxfam Australia is one of the keynote speakers at the event.

“Australian NGOs accredited under the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) recognise the potential of leveraging private sector resources and expertise to achieve faster and more sustainable development outcomes,” Mr McDonald said. “Complex development challenges require partnerships between government, the private sector, and NGOs – as civil society actors. By working together, we can leverage each other’s assets, connections, creativity and expertise in order to achieve Australia’s aid and development objectives.”

For more than 40 years, the Australian Government has provided funding through the ANCP to support the development activities of accredited Australian NGOs. In 2017-18 there were 57 Australian NGOs accredited to receive funding under the ANCP, supporting 455 international development projects in 57 countries. The ANCP recognises the unique strengths that Australian NGOs bring to international development activities, which both complement and strengthen Australia’s overall international aid efforts. ANCP agencies hold an annual learning forum on key topics relevant to Australia’s aid program.

Held in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this year’s key themes include approaches for sustainable economic development, improving health outcomes for workers in large scale businesses and innovation through social enterprise. The forum will also focus on inclusive approaches to economic development, particularly in relation to gender inclusion. Attendees include staff from DFAT, ANCP accredited Australian NGOs, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), private sector and academia.

Oxfam Australia’s Associate Director of Program Strategy Katie Greenwood said Oxfam’s relationship with the private sector was an increasingly important focus of program and advocacy work.

“Oxfam sees the value in building relationships with the private sector to develop shared, innovative ways to tackle poverty,” Ms Greenwood said. “We understand that to end poverty, powerful and practical responses are needed. This means continuously reflecting on how we work and who we are collaborating and partnering with, to see where we can make the biggest possible impact.

“While we don’t chase innovation for the sake of it, we recognise the world is changing. So we collaborate, sometimes with unusual suspects – to achieve positive outcomes. This could involve working with tech start-ups here in Australia, or partnering with an organisation such as Sanasa. Sanasa is a private sector insurance provider in Sri Lanka which helped Oxfam design an award-winning weather index insurance scheme that helps farmers survive a loss of income in times of natural disaster

“At the same time, our partnerships with the private sector uniquely position us to occasionally have some challenging conversations about the need for companies to improve their policies and practices to ensure their own wellbeing and growth does not come at the expense of marginalised individuals and communities. Most of the time, private sector collaborators are very open to such conversations and will work to take feedback on board. The better the relationship, the more that can be achieved together”

Discussions at this forum will be used to develop and guide current and future programming on private sector engagement and development for enhanced impact in aid and development delivery.

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