On September 25, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity and universal peace.
This document also includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 specific goals to be developed by 2030, which must be assumed as a responsibility and an opportunity by both citizens and the business world. In the case of Spain, SMEs, which play a central role in economic development, representing more than 95% of the business fabric and generating 70% of employment, must be the first to take measures to achieve these objectives and these goals. But in what specific areas of work should they focus their efforts? According to Paola Corbaln, these should target actions that involve the different audiences of the entity, from the employees themselves to suppliers, including customers and the environment or community that surrounds the company.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the best response to today’s challenges, as they aim to restore the ecological balance of the planet and to meet the most urgent social challenges: ending poverty, reducing inequalities and improve the living conditions of the population. This statement made by Ángel Pes, president of the Spanish Network of the United Nations Global Compact, risks becoming a dead letter, as unfortunately happens with the vast majority of institutional “good intentions”.
And that’s because these 17 goals, approved on September 25, 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, are also part of another larger document: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It could be defined. as a sort of plan of action in favor of the peoples, the planet, prosperity and universal peace. In addition to these objectives, there are 169 specific objectives to be developed by 2030.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include the protection of labor rights and the promotion of a safe working environment, strengthen social, economic and political inclusion for all, ensure the full and effective participation of women and equal leadership opportunity to all. levels, the implementation of activities to prevent, reduce, recycle and reuse waste or significantly reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms.
What role should Spanish SMEs play?
When it comes to achieving the SDGs, a key word comes into play: corporate leadership. This leadership will only occur if SMEs, which in our country represent more than 95% of the commercial fabric and generate more than 70% of employment, take up the challenge of transforming the economy and the markets so that they are sustainable.
In this sense, Paola Corbaln, director of the Sevillian company REYVARSUR and one of the largest manufacturers of beer taps in our country, affirms that this will only be possible if Spanish SMEs are able to combine economic profitability with generation of social impacts. And positive environments for people and the planet. It is only by counting on companies that have a vision for the future that we can build an economy of the future.
Indeed, the role of these small and medium-sized enterprises is considered essential to ensure the prosperity of the territories, generate jobs, offer training and career development opportunities and, consequently, achieve the eradication of inequalities.
Four areas of work to integrate the SDGs in an SME
Corbaln details below the four main groups or audiences on which SMEs should focus their actions in order to ensure that these 17 SDGs are part of the “backbone” of the entity. This information is taken from the SME Guide to the SDGs prepared by the General Council of Economists, CEPYME and the Spanish Global Compact network.
Actions with employees
Hiring policies. By incorporating people in vulnerable situations into the company: long-term unemployed, young people, people with disabilities or at risk of social exclusion. Working conditions. Promote work reconciliation measures: flexible hours, compensation for overtime, teleworking. Other measures. Promote sustainable production and consumption habits among employees through informative interviews or through the company’s internal communication media.
Actions with suppliers
Encourage the hiring of local businesses, stimulate the local economy and reduce environmental impacts. Bet on suppliers who respect human rights. Hire suppliers who work with green products, which have renewable energies and efficient systems, to bet on sustainable economic growth.
Actions with customers and consumers
Offer accessible products and services. Carry out communication and marketing actions that promote ethical and sustainable values. Periodically perform internal audits.
Actions towards the community and the environment
Cooperation and social action. Participate in development cooperation projects, volunteer programs and / or support initiatives in favor of sustainable development. Environment. Reduce waste and polluting materials and replace them with more sustainable ones in addition to recycling as much as possible at all levels of production of the company. Other measures. Invest in R + D + i.