I was recently invited to speak on a panel at an event being hosted by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australia.  The event was themed “Advancing Innovative Development and Aid Strategies in the Asia Pacific: Advancing the Millennium Development Goals”. The conference aimed to stimulate greater international interest in the Asia-Pacific, and enhance the quality of debate around how to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

On reviewing the breadth of speakers at the conference I realized I was one of only a handful of people representing the corporate sector. It was to be my role to convince a group of key decision makers from government, civil society, multilateral and country donors of the important role that private organizations will play in order to achieve the MDGs.

As Community Affairs Lead for Asia, I witness firsthand the issues the MDGs are trying to address on an all too regular basis. Asia is home to approximately 56% of the world’s population and according to estimations by Aid Data approximately 23.92% of the world’s aid was distributed in this region, so to say I feel strongly on this topic and the role of the private sector in an understatement.

There is an amazing amount of work being done by technology companies around the globe to address the MDGs and I jump at any opportunity to celebrate progress and raise awareness of what the future may hold. I would argue there are few companies in our position who offer the breadth of programs and are able to align them with all the MDGs directly (you can read an update on our commitment to the MDGs here). As I walk people through Microsoft’s portfolio it is usually my experience that people are relatively unaware of the work we are doing and very supportive when they learn about it.   

This event was also special to me for another reason, I was humbled to be sharing a panel with Professor Peter Singer,  Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.  I read the work of Professor Singer whilst I was studying, and his views on ethics were some of the driving influences for me to move toward the line of work I am in.

As you gaze through the MDGs it is striking how big a task it will be to even come close to achieving them.  Being at an event with people who are committed to achieving these results is inspirational and leaves me even stronger in my belief that public-private partnerships are imperative to us moving closer to success.

You can find a recap of the Lowry Institute event here.

You can find out more about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals here.

You can find a summary of Microsoft’s commitment and contribution to the Millennium Development Goals here.