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CBI’s Expert Conference gets off to a topical start

In welcoming CBI’s experts from all over the world, two speakers during the recent CBI Expert Conference highlighted topics that included inequality, aid for trade support and the need to demonstrate results.

Speech

The keynote speaker, during the recent CBI Expert Conference in The Hague at the end of January was Jeroen Roodenburg, Director Sustainable Development with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In his speech Roodenburg stressed the importance of identifying results and addressing inequalities.

Biggest impact

Increasing pressure is being put on development budgets, he insisted. “More and more organisations and countries are competing for limited funds so it’s crucial to not only achieve results but to communicate them too.” On inequality he said that to tackle the root causes of migration we have a specific obligation to target our Private Sector Development programmes at those that need most help. “We need to target the least developed and most fragile countries. They might seem to pose a challenge, but these are areas in which CBI can have the biggest impact and add the highest value.”

Limited resources

Roodenburg went on to say that the aid, trade and investment agenda has set CBI ambitious goals, with so much to do and limited resources with which to do it all. A key rationale for integrating CBI into the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) was the synergies that are to be found in collaborating with other private sector development programmes and stakeholders.

Warm welcome

After his speech, Roodenburg handed the baton to CBI Managing Director Max Timmerman, who extended a special warm welcome to the many CBI experts who were present. He stressed their importance as CBI’s ambassadors in the field and for keeping CBI up to speed of what’s going on and what is and what isn’t working. “At CBI we rely on the help of our experts, which I actually prefer not to call ‘external’ because I see them as part of the CBI team.”

Relevance

Of 17 goals recently hammered out by the UN in a Global Goals for Sustainable Development programme, Timmerman singled out goal number eight, “Decent work and economic growth”, as having particular relevance for CBI. “An aim of this goal is to increase aid for trade support for developing countries, particularly the least developed, and this is where CBI can make an impact,” he said.

Important inputs

Gender and responsible consumption and production, which relates to CSR, are also very important inputs for CBI’s activities, continued Timmerman. Alluding to CBI’s capacity to realise its ambitious goals, he echoed previous sentiments of the benefits of CBI’s integration with RVO: “As a single organisation you might be able to run faster, but together you will achieve more,” he said.

Show results

In conclusion, and in the context of a recently published report of an evaluation of CBI’s activities carried out by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Timmerman also touched upon what Roodenburg said about the need to show results. “It’s not only important for CBI to achieve what we set out to do; nowadays it’s also vital that we document and communicate them.