Panel 7. The role of partnerships in dealing with the nexus challenge of the SDGs

In this panel we will explore the nexus-challenge of the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). We will discuss the principles-based and collective-vision based approach of the SDGs and the question whether this approach is more effective than the rule-based approach taken in the past (OECD guidelines; codes of conduct, roundtables etc.). In particular, we are interested in the degree to which the principle-based approach can help in addressing more complex – interrelated – problems for which companies have to understand positive as well as negative effects of their interventions. Applying the nexus principle in corporate partnership strategies then implies minimalizing negative externalities (avoid doing harm) and maximising positive externalities (doing good) effect. Cross-sector partnerships are an important vehicle for managing nexus effects.

This panel will look at the way business schools and businesses can be involved in setting up partnerships that can address all these issues at the same time. The panel will explore the extent to which successful partnerships can play a role and which SDGs in particular provide more opportunities for nexus-sensitive adoptions of partnerships.

Questions that will be addresses include:

  • What strategic management principles can be developed at the level of companies to integrate the nexus approach in their partnering strategies?
  • How to measure and manage negative externalities and positive externalities?
  • Can partnerships trigger spill-over effects between different SDGS and can we thus also prioritize partnerships for specific SDGs that are more influential than others?
  • The SDGs are formulated on a national scale, indicators as well. How to translate SDG targets to the micro-level of companies and NGOs? \
  • How to operationalise the SDG targets at the meso-level of cross-sector partnerships?
  • How can parties prevent that SDG strategies become yet another way of ‘greenwashing’, ‘blue washing’ or ‘whitewashing’ and what role partnerships can play in this effort?
  • Can the nexus challenge also be internalized, i.e., can functional areas of management within companies be aligned to such an extent that an internal nexus policy can be developed that help increase the (net) contribution to sustainable development of companies?