Focusing on the return to economic growth, The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) has emphasised that partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future is essential.
Business and Government leaders from more than 50 countries came to the forum to discuss the future for business and trade. More than 150 speakers participated, including HE Rupiah Banda, President of Zambia and HE Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda.
The CBF is a major international business event which brings together some 700 government and business leaders from throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.
The Forum – which has previously been held in Malta (2005) and Uganda (2007) – promotes practices and policies for the enhancement of global trade and investment. This year the meeting was held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 24-26 November.
The meeting looked at the fundamental challenges to the global community, which were stated as widespread poverty and inequality, climate change, pressure on natural resources, and conflict; the Forum acknowledged that a values-based approach is required to achieve success.
In addition, the power of a collective response to the changing dynamic between business and society was asserted. The private sector and the government are encouraged to work together in PPP’s (Public Private Partnerships) to help with the deployment of new technologies.
The Commonwealth’s well-placed position to help fast track exchange of good policies, business models and technologies for development was also emphasised. The Council looked at how the technologies and business models at their disposal means they are able to tackle issues such as energy management, SME development, ICT and improving good governance.
Furthermore, the Commonwealth Business Council looked at six headline recommendations for Heads of Government to consider. The top priority was climate change. Emphasising that time is pressing, it was urged that Heads of Government press for agreement at the upcoming Copenhagen Agreement. Focusing on stimulating growth, the Council looked at how pricing emissions of carbon could incentivise the private sector to develop and deploy new technologies and more efficient energy production and consumption.
Other headlines for consideration included trade and markets, broadly-based economic development, skills and education, infrastructure and good ethical standards.
Ethics in particular is asserted as at the core of the Commonwealth ideal, the discussions around it looked at how ethics should govern the global economic system, along with better rules. Strengthening defences against corrupt practices and improving transparency in political party funding are intended to reduce the scope for corruption as well as reducing the costs of doing business through improving competitiveness.
Overall, the message was that though last year has tested confidence in the ability of free markets to support development, the lesson is not that markets cannot deliver sustainable growth. On the contrary, the Council stated that with a clear emphasis on the major problem of weak implementation of policy, market systems can help to create a better life for future generations.