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Blending Business and Sustainable Development in the Post 2015 Agenda

By and - Jul 1 2016

Chart_of_UN_Sustainable_Development_Goals
What does the Colombian singer Shakira, the United National General Assembly, more than 25 global companies operating in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the IDB have in common? If you google it, you’ll find that the answer is simple, the Sustainable Development Goals, or the SDGs.

The 17 interconnected goals and 169 targets that underpin them provide a roadmap for governments, regions, cities, private sector, civil society and academia to develop a strategic approach to eliminating poverty and child mortality, tackling inequality and climate change, whilst promoting economic growth, employment, and peaceful societies. Easy task right?

Not so much. That’s why the IDB, through the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and its Office for Outreach and Partnerships, has been working to understand the importance and scale of change that is needed to achieve the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the potential for strategic private sector involvement in sustainable development as a means of advancing these goals.

In this vein, the CSR Innolabs, created in 2012, brings together the IDB and major global companies to discuss novel approaches to responsible business, and to promote partnerships and alliances that go beyond business as usual and offer a platform for learning and reflection. The think tank Forética is the CSR Innolab’s primary knowledge partner, and a leading actor in the Innolab’s efforts to foster a global corporate culture which values these themes. Bringing together private sector leaders like PepsiCo, SABMiller, Philips, The Coca-Cola Company, and more, CSR Innolabs works to foster a global culture of responsible corporate leadership, hosting seminars and creating environments in which companies can discuss best practices and innovative models for social and environmental responsibility. To this end, CSR Innolabs has produced several knowledge products on issues such as social entrepreneurship, inclusive business, climate change and impact measurement.

Given the launch of the SDGs in 2014, the IDB has since worked with the CSR Innolabs to promote a discussion on the role of business in Latin America and the Caribbean and to explore how companies can align their business strategies with the SDGs. Last month, the IDB held a seminar for large companies operating in Latin America and the Caribbean, generating a discussion on how social impact instruments like corporate venturing can support their approach to the SDGs. Some 25 major companies participated in the session.

It was a pretty intense day, where we looked into:

  • How the SDGs are being further integrated in government and multilateral thinking on sustainable development
  • How major companies are assessing their impacts on the SDGs and defining their role in this 2030 development agenda
  • How corporate social innovation is the baseline for going beyond philanthropy into more sophisticated impact models involving the company and its core business model to promote sustainability
  • How corporate venturing provides a white canvas for social innovation and scalable impact across company operations and corporate giving
  • How alliances and partnerships will drive the SDG agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean for the next 15 years

The session included presentations, expert outputs and best practice examples from leading global companies like BBVA, Centrica, Enel, ILUNION and Telefónica. The European Venture Philanthropy Association and Volans/Corporate Impact X also contributed to the discussion alongside with IDB/MIF and Forética experts.

According to Germán Granda, Managing Director at Forética, “Spanish companies are at the forefront of business development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The SDG agenda is clearly seen as a driver of opportunity for responsible and sustainable businesses that want to engage in critical development sectors like healthcare, infrastructure or low carbon economies. The CSR Innolabs are helping companies assess their impacts in the region from a wider perspective in order to gain competitive advantage in the post 2015 era.”

The conclusion? That there are plenty of opportunities in the region and an eagerness in companies to understand how impact investment models work and how to link sustainable development with their core business. The SDGs are here to stay, so we need to start working together to seek for opportunities, alliances, and partnerships that can help to achieve them!

By the way, in case you are still wondering, Shakira is mentioned because she made a pretty amazing rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the UN General Assembly conference last September that adopted the SDGs!

I hope we can continue this conversation and together look for innovative ways in which companies can partner with leading institutions like the IDB and regional governments. Though we can take many routes to sustainable development, it’s clear that we must work together to implement the ambitious SGD agenda and achieve the better world we all deserve.

 

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One Response to “Blending Business and Sustainable Development in the Post 2015 Agenda”

  • Rob crook :

    It looks like many of the companies mentioned are larger, and well capitalized, are there any case studies about smaller companies or successful micro finance projects?

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