Multinational Corporations

Sub-principle 2.A

Focus on maximising sustainable development results


Why is it important?


Maximising sustainable development results is key for any company that wishes to make business profits and contribute to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. Scalable market solutions can be an effective means to expand investments for sustainable development, including environmental and climate action or the creation and defence of global public goods. It fulfils a company’s mandate when partnering in a publicly financed development programme. This provides an opportunity to use the partnership for testing unproven ideas and innovative products or services that can bring transformational change.

Self-reflection questions
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  • Do you collect data from your business operations that can feed into the analyses carried out by governments and development partners to identify sectors, markets and populations such as youth, women or populations particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and where development co-operation projects can maximise development results? 
  • Do you use your data to understand the context you are working in, in relation to sustainable development results? 
  • How do you anticipate how your involvement in a given development co-operation project impacts the environment or disadvantaged groups like women and young people? 
  • Have you developed a results framework and conducted an impact assessment with targeted results measurements for women and other marginalised groups?
  • Is there a systematic process in place to improve your internal operations and adjust your services/products to maximise your impact on marginalised or disadvantaged groups in society?

Actions to consider
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  • Ensure development co-operation projects and programmes in which you participate align with sectors, markets and populations such as youth, women or populations particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which are critical for development outcomes, as identified by national governments.
  • Commit to the development outcomes of the project. Understand, be clear and address the trade-offs among the different pillars of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic. 
  • Understand and use the range of development co-operation modalities available beyond finance, including technical expertise and knowledge transfer. 
  • Develop a code of conduct for your role in development co-operation projects and follow these standards even if the laws of the country concerned are lower. 
  • Get involved early in the programme cycle, especially in project design. This will ensure greater impact, sustainability of results and more strategic use of resources from all partners.

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Do it alone without getting advice from development experts and local experts. 
  • Focus on direct, short-term impacts only, forgetting about indirect social or environmental outputs and their long-term implications.
  • Focus on the public relations and marketing value at the expense of true development impact. 
  • Concentrate on sectors, markets and populations that only provide a financial value, forgoing the value of social and environmental impacts.
  • Disregard the “do no harm” principle.


The Area Development Project at Kochore in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia is a partnership between World Vision International and the Australian coffee producer Jasper Coffee to work with Fairtrade co-operatives. It is an example of how coffee has transformed and lifted communities out of poverty. 

Barefoot Power (a Melbourne-based solar company), partners with large donors like the European Union, banks, local micro-finance institutions, community-based organisations to provide innovative solar power technology to poor communities in India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and other places.

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