Between November 26th-28th, global leaders in commerce, technology, development, and academia gathered in the Four Seasons hotel for the 9th annual Bosphorus Summit. The guiding theme this year was ‘Sustaining Peace and Development for All’, and panellists sought to apply this intuition to their respective projects. Proceedings commenced with an inspiring series of opening speeches and continued with panels and breakout sessions, wherein expert panellists with varied professional backgrounds analysed, discussed, and prophesised about diverse subjects, from contemporary Trade Wars to the future of Artificial Intelligence in global governance. For further details on the summit, please follow the link below:

The UNDP IICPSD supported the Summit through co-organising four panels, and through the participation of the IICPSD Director Marcos Neto and the Business Call to Action(BCtA) Manager Paula Pelaez, in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accelerator and the Charting a New Course for the Business World panels respectively. Moreover, IICPSD initiatives such as the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investment Platform (GIFIIP) and Entrepreneurial Skills Development Initiative for SDGs, were addressed on separate panels by specialists in the corresponding fields.

1)    Is it Time to Accelerate Building Ecosystems? – Nov 27th

The objective of this panel was to discuss the relative merits and feasibility of an SDG Accelerator, especially in comparison with similar existing accelerators and incubators. Marcos Neto, Director of the IICPSD, opened the panel by emphasizing that Istanbul is a middle-income city with global influence, and thus is ideally situated to build an SDG accelerator that reaches “the furthest behind first”. Filippo Addarii, co-founder of Plusvalue,detailed his personal experience working on the SDG Accelerator – explaining the function of the project as a global means to “engage new forces towards mobilising the entrepreneurial spirit of marginalised groups, including refugees”, the accelerator would benefit from the powerful backing of the UNDP, the Turkish Government, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and would seek to unify both complex theoretical understandings with ‘on the ground’ experience. The aims of the Turkish Government in this project were outlined by Mustafa Osman Turan, who underlined the commitment of Turkey to the 2030 Agenda and added his personal excitement in the possibility of exploring “fascinating questions […] such as the potential to create synergistic partnerships between established companies and start-ups to build capacity”. Subsequently; Kutlu Karavelioğlu, Ebru Ozdemir, and Cheryl Edison all offered their unique private sector perspectives on the potential in the realisation of the SDGs. Mr. Karavelioğlu drew comparisons and provided information on existing innovation centres in Turkey that aim nurture start-ups under the auspices of the Turkish Export Bank. Ms. Ozdemir talked about the reasons Limak Enerjisupports the Accelerator, stating that ‘peace’ and ‘development for all’ harmonise neatly with the corporate philosophy of Limak Investment. Finally, Cheryl Edison closed out the discussion by relating her extensive international experience in developing incubators and accelerators. The focus of the panel – the SDG Accelerator – complements the IICPSD’s emphasis on fostering inclusive and SDG-aligned business ecosystems as an integral tool for the realisation of the SDGs.

2)    Unleashing the Potential of ‘Green Sukuk’ for Renewable Energy Projects – Nov 27th

In recognition of the potential of Islamic finance to fund the SDGs, IICPSD promotes Islamic Finance-based impact Investment as a way to tackle the investment gap. The panel, organized under the GIFIIP platform, aimed to contribute to the understanding of the Green Sukuk initiative’s role as an innovative Islamic financial instrument; namely to close the SDG funding gap through increasing financial resources in the renewable energy sector. The panel brought together experts in the field of Islamic finance. Zalina Shamsudin, Head of Strategy and Business Development of Capital Markets Malaysia, emphasised the need “to innovate within Islamic Finance to mainstream the investor base” and explained how Malaysia is going to continue developing itself as an SRI hub for Islamic Finance. Riestianti Riestianti, Deputy Director at the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, stressed the ministry’s aim “to continue the process of issuing Green Sukuk […] to combat climate change” and to open Green Sukuk up to the secondary market. The panellists agreed with Riestianti, that “[we] have to find assistance from UNDP, the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), and the Islamic Council for Development (ICD) […] There is a lot of work to do”. With a great potential to engage the private sector and mobilize capital for development cooperation, Islamic Finance presents itself a promising instrument. On the side of the private sector Tarik Malaika, the Program Lead of Advisory Services in the ICD, had a positive outlook on the panel and future cooperation. Mr. Malaika, who recently launched a sukuk in Turkey, spoke with confidence, that ICD wants “to see more projects like Green Sukuk on the market. Not only green energy but other projects too”. A main challenge according to Tarik is “showing that there is a standard for Green Sukuk which shows what impact these projects have”. At the end of the panel, Dawood Ashraf, Acting Manager and Senior Researcher at the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), highlighted that “This panel is something in the right direction […] on how to align Islamic Finance and the SDGs. […] This is a win-win situation for everybody”. The Green Sukuk initiative, managed and operated under GIFIIP, forms a central pillar in the IICPSD’s work towards cultivating impact investment.

3)    Entrepreneurship for Africa – Nov 27th

This panel focused on the role that entrepreneurial activities can play in fostering sustainable development in Africa. In his opening speech, Musa Kulaklıkaya, Director General at Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), pointed out that even though African countries experienced fast growth during the last decade, perennial challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment could hamper efforts to achieve sustainable growth and development. In line with the IICPSD’s approach to development, Mr. Kulaklıkaya highlighted the importance of the private sector and entrepreneurship in overcoming these challenges and creating a more inclusive and sustainable growth strategy. Indeed, the private sector can be key in providing youth with market-relevant skills. He reminded the audience of the very successful initiative YouthConnekt, a platform created in Rwanda and replicated by many countries is Africa, to support young peoples’ entrepreneurial activities. The Ambassador of Rwanda to Turkey, Williams Nkurunziza, praised the work of the initiative and emphasized the need for a political agenda which passionately aims at creating a conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Subsequently, Markus Schwertel, HP’s lead government liaison for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region, presented the HP Foundation’s entrepreneurial learning tool HP LIFE, which offers online courses that support individuals to start up and run businesses.  Ridha Saidi, Minister of State and Advisor of Economy to the Prime Minister of Tunisia, brought forward an example from Tunisia wherein a fruitful collaboration between the private and public sectors resulted in the creation of Mashrou3i, an initiative supporting young entrepreneurs. Assia Riccio, CEO of Evolvin’ Women, and Van Jones, Head of Strategy for Hello Tractor, shared their personal experience as young entrepreneurs. Ms. Riccio identified lack of funding, and lack of technology and mentorship in rural areas as the main challenges concerning women entrepreneurs. Mr. Jones showed how technology can be instrumental in creating access to markets and improving efficiency and productivity in agriculture. Mr. Nkurunziza summarised the key points emerged in the panel discussion: he emphasised the critical role of entrepreneurship in inclusive and sustainable growth, and underlined the fact that Africa’s youth and women must become key drivers of this growth.

4)    Charting a New Course for the Business World: UN SDGs – Nov 28th

The panel, organized jointly by UNDP IICPSD and the Bogazici University Alumni Association (BRM), provided a platform to share good practices in inclusive business and identify further opportunities in implementing sustainable business models. Paula Pelaez, manager of BCtA, noted that the primary objective of inclusive businesses is leaving no one behind, and that through inclusive business models, the private sector can contribute to the SDGs. Mavi Jeans’ CEO Cüneyt Yavuz informed the audience that SDG-led change in the business world puts a positive pressure on Mavi’s operations, and, in this pursuit, they both sponsor the education of women to ensure a gender balance in the workplace and also work in an environmentally-conscious manner. For instance, through the Caretta-Carettaprogram at Mavi, employees can work hands-on in corporate projects. VISA’s Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Hugh Norton shared his insights, focusing on the I can manage my money financial literacy program and asserting that educating the consumer is the backbone of a strong economy. Working together with governments as well as with other companies is how VISA has been able to make a huge and measurable impact – in Turkey alone they have been able to reach more than one million people through this initiative. The final panellist, Dr. Ahu Yıldırmaz, shared her research findings at ADP Research Institute, which she founded and co-directs. She underlined that labour markets are globally more dynamic than ever, and by the same token, inclusive businesses are becoming an ever more critical partner in achieving the SDGs. The panel emphasised the imperative for businesses to focus on their talent management initiatives, achieve productivity with a transforming labour force, and to attract, educate and retain the right talent.

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