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Unlocking the potential of the fourth sector to achieve the SDGs

May 21, 2019 | 13:45 – 14:45 

Hosted by: Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations

New York | USA

The "Shark Tank" roundtable series provides a forum for out-of-the box ideas to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda.


Guest speakers address policymakers in the UN system to turn their fresh thinking into a reality.


This episode is on how the fourth sector can drive implementation of the SDGs at scale.

Here are the basics:

  • Many of the social, environmental, and economic challenges we face today are downstream consequences of outdated economic systems and organizational models dating back to the industrial age. The scale, urgency, and complexity of these challenges demand a fundamental rethink of business-as-usual models.

  • The growing sector of social – or “for-benefit” – enterprises offers an opportunity to solve many of these challenges, while advancing inclusive and sustainable growth.

  • Combining attributes of traditional for-profit businesses and NGOs, for-benefit enterprises are hybrid business structures whose primary purpose is delivering social and environmental benefit. They now constitute a hidden “fourth sector” of the economy which has been growing at the intersection of the traditional private, public, and nonprofit sectors for decades.

  • However, for-benefit enterprises currently lack their own supportive ecosystem – in areas such as finance, policy and regulation – making it difficult to survive and deliver on their highest potential.

  • How can we unlock the potential of for-benefit enterprise to achieve the SDGs – and where can the United Nations add greatest value?

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