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A roadmap for private sector engagement activities at ICIMOD has been outlined for 2017 onwards leading to the medium term action plan IV, 2018-2022. The roadmap known as the “Building Bridges with Business: ICIMOD’s Private Sector Engagement and Partnerships for Sustainable Mountain Development in the HKH” has five key components with targeted activities. Each of the five components are explained in the following.
Knowledge provider: ICIMOD’s approach to develop partnership with the private sector is to be a knowledge provider for sustainable business practices. As a resource centre, raising awareness and building the capacity of the private sector about the larger environmental challenges and impacts of climate change on their businesses, sustainability reporting for businesses would be ICIMOD’s interest. ICIMOD can contribute its experience and knowledge to the private sector to help progress business development opportunities.
Translate scientific knowledge to practical business solutions: ICIMOD positions itself to repackage and translate the existing knowledge into sustainable business solutions that is understandable and useable for the private sector to help progress business development opportunities. Risk management and risk assessment of climate change impacts and water related issues are of value to the private sector. ICIMOD can use advisory services to the needs of the private sector at a market price. ICIMOD should then market the advisory services to cater to the needs of private sector.
Research into practice: With its strong research expertise, ICIMOD can extend cooperation in the area of focused research for the private sector. Many private sector actors implementing large projects wish to understand their impact on the region, and seek ways to offset environmental impacts and provide benefits to local communities. ICIMOD can jointly conduct research on climate change impacts into their business operations and recommend appropriate actions. Value chain analysis of high value products is a niche strength of ICIMOD, where SMEs can make use of the research on product development to increase productivity.
Collaborative research: Joint research can also focus on local indigenous knowledge, where mountain communities are able to develop, deploy and scale up innovative solutions. ICIMOD is well positioned to provide critical information on business risks such as climate change impact risks on the hydropower industry. ICIMOD can jointly conduct research on climate change impacts to the particular business sector and their operations and co-develop and co-create appropriate actions that benefit the private sector yet contributes to sustainable mountain development.
Link to on-going activities: ICIMOD’s initiatives of the Regional Programmes have activities in the eight regional member countries. Business partnerships provides opportunities with the private sector to up-scale through sustainable business solutions. Thus, the need for private sector engagement of various types is crucial for three particular reasons in the activities of ICIMOD, namely for impact, innovative solutions and sustainability of the activities.
Enhancement of livelihoods: Engagement of the private sector actors to create a greater impact in the mountain communities through enhancement in the livelihoods by developing value-chain and market linkages for mountain products and services. Linking with the financial institutions is also important. Private sector can strengthen mountain communities’ economies by helping to scale up activities of the on-going livelihood initiatives, adding more local value, diversification into higher-value products, development facilities for new entrepreneurs, quality management and secure sustainable market access.
Mountain enterprise development: The focus would be to encourage and help develop enterprises in mountain communities by unlocking innovative livelihood opportunities, market driven solutions and promoting more equitable approaches to sustainable mountain development. Mountain products and services will be promoted where mountain people directly benefit and the mountain environment is preserved. Empowering women and youth and linking them with financial and insurance institutions will be key aspect to engage private sector.
Partnership with apex business bodies: ICIMOD will establish partnership the national and regional federations of chambers of commerce and industries to foster regional cooperation. The federations are apex business bodies at the national levels which represent the common voices and interests of the private sector companies. Working together with business federations, ICIMOD helps foster regional cooperation to create an enabling environment for promoting responsible businesses practices.
Bridge policy gaps: A unique niche partnership with ICIMOD would be the possibility of identifying the bottle necks of policy issues that contributes to challenges for the private sector. As a regional intergovernmental organization, ICIMOD can be a conduit between government agencies and businesses, especially in contributing to understand what policies are causing these hurdles and to work closely with the government agencies and the private sector to bridge these gaps.
Invests for mountain development: The HKH region is a global asset. Safeguarding its goods and services is vital for business and broader sustainability. ICIMOD has a vested interest in providing avenues for private sector investment in the mountain development agenda, particularly those whose operations rely on natural resources from the HKH mountain regions. Partnerships with private sector fosters opportunity to mobilise responsible and sustainable investments. ICIMOD is ready to explore avenues to partner with ICIMOD in green investments, equity funds and impact investments.
Development Partners: ICIMOD has been working closely with a number of development actors such as bilateral and multilateral international organisations who have supported ICIMOD in various ways. Most of these development partners have long recognized the urgency and importance of engaging the private sector in their sustainable development objectives. ICIMOD will strategically align the priorities of the development partners by mapping and scoping of the private sector engagement of those development partners.
Philanthropic Foundations: Through grant-making, direct implementation and co-partnership mechanisms, the foundations support and drive innovation in various areas. ICIMOD would like to reach out to these foundations where there is interest in mountain and its communities so that programmes could be jointly developed.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Increasingly, the private sector are reaching out to organisations like ICIMOD to invest and share their corporate social responsibility funds. The interest is to be involved in more meaningful activities that have visible impact to the socio-economic and environment to the communities where they operate. Activities to involve the corporate funds would be to approach and explore these target corporates who are interested to partner with ICIMOD in common areas of interests.
Climate Financing Opportunities: ICIMOD is embarking on innovative investment models to capitalize on emerging climate financing markets and carbon credits. Many climate financing mechanisms has great relevance to ICIMOD’s programme portfolios and sustainable mountain development. Carbon credits, the removal or avoidance of one tonne of CO2, are used by companies to compensate for their carbon emissions, by either adhering to emission allowances or contributing to sustainable projects. There is a need to explore this new financial model and to see the role of ICIMOD and what it means for ICIMOD. Thus, ICIMOD is working to enhance understanding of climate financing resources for the ICIMOD regional and making appropriate interface with financial institutions and networking. A pool of bankable projects are being developed including new ideas of green projects.