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The Potential of Business-Driven Networks for Sustainable Development

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The Potential of Business-Driven Networks for Sustainable DevelopmentA large-scale change toward sustainable development requires adequate governance structures, in which business, politics and civil society collaborate to identify common risks as well as to create mutual windows of opportunity for a common policy agenda at all levels. Global challenges, such as climate change, corruption or human rights, cannot be addressed by individual companies or governments alone.

Collective action (CA) and policy dialogue (PD) are governance mechanisms that can effectively address these challenges. However, their success depends on five enablers: common ground, legitimacy, governance structure, link between the global and the local and resources. Businessdriven networks, such as the Local Networks (LNs) of United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) or the Partners for Development initiative of the Bertelsmann Foundation, are particularly well positioned to serve as platforms for CA and PD since they respond to these five issues.

What role can business-driven networks, play in advancing and mainstreaming CA and PD? How can such networks best develop their impact potential? How can they best be supported by other actors (politics, civil society, individual companies) in this endeavor?

The following actions seem crucial in this regard: Setting the right framework to promote local/regional business-driven networks as leverage for sustainability and dialogue platforms for companies; Identifying the right goals, structures and processes that ensure the effectiveness of CA and PD in addressing social challenges; Enhancing cooperation between such networks, politics and civil society; Scaling up already existing models of cross-sector partnerships.

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