Back 27.09.2019

The Challenges of our Time Cannot Be Overcome without the Private Sector

The UN Environment Programme assigned Gaia Consulting in April 2019 to develop their Private Sector Engagement Strategy to further strengthen their capacity to fulfill their mandate.

Climate change and environmental degradation impact us all. These phenomena will shape the world we live in in a way that is hard to predict. Unexpected weather events, sudden price increases in raw materials, interruptions in the availability of Nature’s products or services and mass movements of people are only some of the very concrete examples of why climate change is a major risk for conducting business.

While we will be forced to adapt to some of the inevitable changes that are ahead, we cannot afford to lose more time in combating the rising threats. To maintain and ensure a healthy planet for today and the generations to come, urgent action is needed immediately. A coordinated response should inspire participants from all sectors, public and private, to take action while promoting a wider cultural and behavioral change amongst individuals.

Seeking a more Systematic Engagement with the Private Sector

The 2030 Agenda and other international agreements highlight the ever-increasing role of the private sector in solving the most pressing challenges of our time. Without the private sector, it is unlikely that the desired change is possible on the desired scale.

The UN Environment Programme is the leading global authority that sets the environmental agenda. Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

“The UN Environment Programme cannot fulfill its mission without active and systematic engagement with the private sector. Only through engaging the private sector in partnerships can we move from incremental to transformational change that will bring global environmental sustainability. But systemic engagement needs a corporate strategy and to have that, we needed a consultancy group with expertise in sustainable business practices and an understanding of multilateral institutions like the UN Environment Programme”, says Jorge Laguna-Celis*, Director of the Governance Affairs Office at the UN Environment Programme.

Partnerships to create transformative changes, innovations and measurable impacts

The UN Environment Programme’s engagement with the private sector should increase the private sector’s capability to understand and measure impacts from operations. It should encourage stronger commitment from private sector to reduce its environmental footprint and encourage businesses and corporations to develop business models that move from a linear production to circularity. Engagement should seek to catalyze private sector investments in order to accelerate the momentum of positive change. Importantly, more systematic engagement should promote an enabling environment and level playing field for sustainable businesses globally.

“Successful engagement between businesses and international organisations must be built on trust, generate mutual benefits and be driven by impacts on SDGs. Businesses have the skills and capacity to invest, innovate and scale up products and services that make the world a better place. Collaboration with the UN Environment Programme can help businesses in turning sustainable business into better business,” says Pasi Rinne, Chairman and Founder of Gaia Consulting.

Leveraging our expertise in making the world safer and cleaner

Gaia advocates that businesses that can identify, assess and manage risks to the environment and the society from their own operations or their value chain are more resilient. By operating in a smart way at the right time, they can improve their bottom line, mitigate losses on their balance sheets and save costs on society. Over the years, Gaia has also helped several international organisations and public sector entities in developing more impactful and efficient policy a approaches that leverage or catalyse private sector resources.

“Collaboration between the UN Environment Programme and Gaia to develop a Strategy for Private Sector Engagement, has combined the best of both worlds. Gaia experts have had the opportunity to leverage their understanding of the operating rationale of multilateral organisations and businesses and combine it with our aspiration to make the world cleaner and safer,” says Minna Kuusisto, Senior Consultant at Gaia.

More information

  • Minna Kuusisto, Senior Consultant, Gaia Consulting Oy,, +358 44 260 9979
  • Pasi Rinne, Chairman of the Board, Gaia Group Oy,, +358 400 464 127


*Disclaimer from UNEP: This quote should not be considered as an endorsement of any other Gaia’s services or products.