Carney: Promoting Ethics when Partnering with the Private Sector for Development

From the Executive Summary:

Development cooperation actors across the globe are increasingly engaging in opportunities with the private sector to achieve development objectives such as reducing poverty, advancing human rights and democracy, promoting health and protecting the environment. In working toward these objectives, actors have certain expectations from their constituents to act in an ethical manner, and have obligations as stewards to their constituents to select and manage partners in a way that promotes widely accepted ethics principles. While many development cooperation actors recognize the role of ethics in guiding their behaviour and actions, a number of questions remain regarding the role of ethics in partnerships with the private sector: What ethics principles have been applied to private sector partnerships? How do development cooperation actors around the world act to promote ethics principles?

Development cooperation actors included in this analysis are those that utilize public resources to achieve development outcomes, and engage as mutual partners with the private sector. The analysis is based on a qualitative review of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members’ and United Nations (UN) organizations’ published policies and strategy papers and presents which ethics principles development cooperation actors use. The report examines the terms and nature of these principles, and how actors take action to promote ethical partnerships with the private sector for development.

The study revealed six key ethics principles applied to partnerships with the private sector. Development cooperation actors take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions in order to maintain integrity, credibility and accountability. They also focus on fairness by not giving special treatment to special interests; they seek to remain impartial and independent. Development cooperation actors strive to be honest and ensure transparency in their partnerships while avoiding conflicts of interest. Some development cooperation actors make reference to supporting social justice by aiming to ensure the activities they support benefit the poor over the rich. Gender equality, environmental sustainability and human rights also tend to be cross-cutting themes that apply to partnerships with the private sector. Finally, development cooperation actors promote democracy through the application of principles for equitable participation.


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