Planning for Impact
06/2017 - Unternehmerischer Erfolg an der Schnittstelle von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
Paula Pelaez | Programmleiterin, UN Business Call to Action
Peter Bartsch | Head of Corporate Sustainability, Lenzing
Gunter Schall | Leiter Wirtschaft und Entwicklung, ADA
“Global trends are rapidly reshaping the economy and presenting significant risks and opportunities for business”, Paula Pelaez states at the corporAID Multilogue “Planning for Impact” on the 12th of June at the headquarters of AGRANA in Vienna. Among these trends are climate change, rapid population growth and rising demand for infrastructure or energy in an increasingly resource-constrained world, according to Pelaez. She is heading the Business Call to Action (BCtA), an inclusive business platform that was launched by the United Nations in 2008. To address these challenges the international community adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are relevant for both developed and developing countries and among others aim at ending poverty and hunger (SDG 1 and 2), promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth (SDG 8) or ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy (SDG 7). “The role of the private sector to achieving the SDGs in terms of their innovation capacity, creativity, technological expertise, and investment is essential”, Pelaez says and points to the vast economic opportunities that could be seized related to innovative mobility systems, new healthcare solutions, energy efficiency, affordable housing, agriculture solutions or urban infrastructure. According to her, many companies are aware of these opportunities, but do not know how to act on them. “Inclusive business – which means including low income populations in value chains – can help companies drive both: SDG alignment and company growth“, Pelaez explains and presents the case of Pronaca: The Ecuadorian poultry and pork producer engaged over 500 smallholder farmers in the company’s corn value chain, offering technical assistance, credit, guaranteed market access and increasing their production by five percent, thus increasing their income. BCtA supports companies like Pronaca in developing inclusive business models and hence is accelerating progress towards the SDGs.
Representing the Austrian industry’s approach to the SDGs Peter Bartsch, Head of Corporate Sustainability at botanic fibre manufacturer Lenzing, joins the discussion. The company recently launched a new sustainability report that establishes the most relevant sustainability issues with regards to core business activities. “In every department of the company sustainability criteria have to be taken into account”, Bartsch explains. Regarding the relevance of the SDGs at Lenzing he says: “Particularly our big customers like H&M, Adidas, Nike are increasingly asking: What is your contribution to the SDGs?” While Lenzing does not have an own SDG strategy yet, Bartsch is convinced that the SDGs will be a global framework and common language for sustainable development. “Still, the SDGs are a very complex issue. Even if a company is able to provide a solution for a particular goal, it will need many partners to actually follow through”, he concludes. The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is one example of how companies can collectively act on these challenges: it pools the expertise of public stakeholders and private businesses in order to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions within the entire textile and apparel supply chains, Bartsch explains.
Gunter Schall, head of Private Sector and Development at the Austrian Development Agency ADA, considers the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles a good example for the importance of the dialogue between the public and the private sector in the field of sustainable development or the SDGs: “The private sector is interested in a level playing field and the public sector can help achieving it.” ADA for instance supports Donau Soja, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims at strengthening the supply chain of sustainable and GM-free soya in Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia. The 250 members of Donau Soja also include Austrian food producer AGRANA. Schall confirms that on the basis of their technologies, know how and international presence a lot of Austrian companies are well equipped for contributing to global sustainable development. To boost the SDG contribution of the Austrian private sector ADA provides incentives, raises awareness for opportunities and offers financial support for projects in challenging markets. “Development cooperation plays a catalytic role”, Schall concludes, “the big push towards achieving the SDGs, however, will have to come from within the business community.”