A study realized by the AECID analyzes the role of Spanish companies to reach the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America

Author: Mélanie Romat
Business and development

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, approved during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, has been considered as a milestone in terms of commitments for development, with the potential to orient public policies from all the signatory countries for the period 2015-2030.

Even if these new goals give continuity to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), they also bring an innovative element: the crucial role of private sector to fulfill the goals fixed, framed in the Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

With the aim to identify to what extent business can contribute to the fulfillment of the SDGs, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) has realized, with the support of Forética, a Study about the contribution of Business to the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

The research has been executed with three main goals: establishing a methodology for the integration of sustainability to business models, supporting companies to integrate sustainability to their operations, aligning the contribution of Spanish companies with the sustainable goals of the destination countries.

To carry out the study, 7 countries of the region have been selected (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, and Dominican Republic), considered as a priority for being part of the Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, where the level of progress of each one of the SDGs has been studied in detail. In each one of these 7 countries, the Spanish business presence has been analyzed as well as the role it is currently playing or could play to reach the SDGs. Following this methodology, it has been possible to establish areas of improvement and priority sectors for each country.

In each one of these 7 countries, the Spanish business presence has been analyzed as well as the role it is playing to reach the SDGs

We can take the example of Guatemala, a country representing a situation of extreme inequity [1] but which has expressed its commitment to development with the ratification of the SDGs in 2000 and through its “National Development Plan K’atun: Our Guatemala 2032”.

In this sense, the efforts of the country have allowed reaching a significant improvement in the SDG 13 (Climate Action), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and 11 (Sustainable cities and communities). However, 3 SDGs are still presenting an important delay in their possible fulfillment: the SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

Taking into account that Spanish companies in Guatemala are part of three main sectors (Manufacturing Industry, Technical, Scientific and Professional Activities and Information and Communications) the study delineates some recommendations so that they can develop their business in the country in a more sustainable way and contribute to the reach of the less advanced SDGs. In the case of Guatemala, it is thus suggested that companies take into account the SDG 12 when time comes to manage their productive processes, through their supply chain or driving the sustainable consumption through social awareness. It is also suggested to elaborate sustainability reports in order to encourage the integration of social responsibility within local business fabric.

In addition to this detailed analyze by countries, the study also offers a precious tool in the form of a guide, examining the importance of each one of the SDG and explaining in each case in which way the company can perform to support their fulfillment. Furthermore, each Goal is associated to a series of tools that can be used as a support in this direction.

The report, which has been officially presented on May 30 at the AECID headquarters, represents a very useful tool to support the companies from the peninsula to integrate the notion of development to their business model.

In this process, the measurement is another key factor and it is crucial to base it on clear indicators that allow knowing with precision our position and the way which remains to go.

Private sector can clearly contribute in terms of development and it is crucial for companies to be informed and have instruments available to take action. The study provided by AECID is one of them and we hope it will receive the attention deserved to carry on the change. Even if, beyond the instruments, the decision to make an effective contribution to this global challenge relies on the corporate will.

[1] The Gini index of the country is 0,487

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