Corporate Sector in Localizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Following 14th Finance Commission recommendations, there is major increase in untied funds available to states, leading to expectations of commensurate increase in state governments’ responsibility for development funding. For Odisha, a 10% jump in share in tax collection is complimented by its vast mineral resources, a 480 km coastline, and a forest cover that accounts for 37% of its area. The evident potential for growth has attracted investors.

Yet, Odisha has failed to translate these resources into improved development outcomes. World Bank lists it among low income states and Government of India (GoI) classifies it as an Empowered Action Group state due to its socio-economic backwardness. NITI Ayog says, even in 2012, 1 in 3 Odias lived below poverty line. Widespread hunger can be gauged from fact that among kids under 5, over 34% are stunted and 20% wasted while 51% women aged 15-49 are anaemic. In primary education, overall retention rate stands at 86% (being even lower for SCs and STs).

The SDGs provide a framework that can improve human development. As there is uneven growth in the Odisha, with greatest poverty in rural areas, among tribals, and among women, SDGs’ success depends on their localization at lowest tier of government, Gram Panchayats. This requires convergence of efforts by various stakeholders. While GoI and Government of Odisha have a macroeconomic role in creating inclusive growth, it needs supplementation by micro-initiatives of other actors, especially private corporations and CSOs. Private corporations are now mandatorily required by Companies Act, Section 135, to spend a stipulated part of turnover on development of their areas of operation. Actors in development process need to break silos to ensure citizen centered growth for Odisha.

Discussion Points:

  • What mechanisms exist at state level in Odisha to coordinate and converge social sector initiatives of government, corporate groups, and CSOs?
  • What are other relevant models and best practices for such convergence, from outside the state, which can be beneficially adapted for Odisha?
  • How can SDG framework be integrated into these existing/potential convergence models?
  • How has the record of corporate involvement in furthering SDGs agenda in Odisha been so far? Which bottlenecks undermine their greater participation and how can these be addressed?
  • Has there been any effort/s at mapping resources and competencies of relevant actors to forge effective and sustainable development cooperation in Odisha while preventing duplication?
  • Are there particular SDGs that evoke greater interest among corporate actors in Odisha, thereby creating potential for early intervention and eventual scaling up?