The Post‐2015 Landscape: Vested Interests, Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Health Advocacy
This paper explores the tensions between UN calls for private sector engagement in the post‐2015 landscape and public health opposition to those ‘harm industries’ that are ‘corporate vectors of disease’ for the mounting global non‐communicable disease burden.
The UN’s support for public‐private partnership has provided industries with ‘vested interests’ in the propagation of unhealthy behaviors with new opportunities for the strategic alignment of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavors with the post‐2015 sustainable development agenda. This has galvanized public health advocates to place pressure on the World Health Organization to formalize their ambiguous stance towards private sector involvement in public policy formation and the resultant ‘conflicts of interest’.
This paper critically examines the ‘gathering storm’ between this ‘anti‐corporate movement’ and the alcohol industry in the increasingly politicized domain of CSR. Drawing on the example of SABMiller’s Tavern Intervention Program, the paper argues that CSR represents a profound threat to the sanctity and moral authority of the public health worldview. Questions therefore need to be asked about whether the public health‐led path of industry non‐association will necessarily result in health improvements or just a further retrenchment of the ideological fault lines explored in the paper.