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The SDGs and the role of companies and the Administration

"The General Guidelines of the 2030 sustainable development strategy define the great challenges for Spain to meet the SDGs, as well as the accelerating policies and action priorities that are necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda"

ESG Forum: environmental, social, and governance aspects in organizations

Last Monday, March 22, from 12.30:14.00 to XNUMX:XNUMX p.m., we attended the FIDE to a new online session of the ESG Forum: environmental, social, and governance aspects in organizations.

It was moderated by German Granda, General Director of Forética and Member of the State CSR Council and co-director of the Forum together with Charles of the Tower, Of Counsel at the Baker McKenzie Department of Labor and a Labor Inspector on leave of absence, and Ivan Gayarre, partner of Sagardoy Abogados and State Attorney.

They participated as speakers Richard Borreani, Responsible for sustainability in the Crop Science area of ​​Bayer and Gabriel Castañares Hernandez, General Director of Palanca Policies for the Fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda in the Government of Spain

The session was about the SDGs and the role of business and government, and intervened as the first speaker Gabriel Castanares, firstly explaining the importance of the work being carried out by the Administration to mark the agenda of the Decade of Action, as well as the important role of the Autonomous Communities and Cities, local entities, the private sector and civil society in the participatory process from which the General Guidelines document has been derived.

The General Guidelines of the 2030 sustainable development strategy define the great challenges for Spain to meet the SDGs, as well as the accelerating policies and action priorities that are necessary to achieve the Agenda 2030. They were approved on March 4 and the objective now is to define these policies within a period of one or two months to present them at the United Nations at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum.

At the level of Diagnosis of the current situation, the latest reports of the progress report (it focuses on the next areas of action) are:

In the economic-social dimension:

  • High level of poverty compared to Europe, especially infant. Almost a third of Spanish girls, boys and adolescents are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
  • Job insecurity and instability: high rates of non-voluntary partiality and labor poverty (there are 13% of people who work, but are at risk of poverty) that mainly affect the women.

In environmental dimension:

  • Climate emergency situation: in the last twenty years there has been a serious increase in semi-arid and desertified surfaces in the Spanish territory, the number of days a year that exceed the thresholds of the heat wave has doubled, and the average temperature has risen 1.7ºC since pre-industrial times.
  • It is necessary to improve certain areas, as shown by the figures for energy dependence abroad, 20 points above the European average
  • With almost a thousand species threatened, it is essential to act to protect biodiversity.

It is also necessary to highlight the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the achievement of the SDGs in our country, mainly affecting:

  • Regarding the ODS 1In Spain, there has been a large increase in poverty and a decrease in income, due to the stoppage of economic activities classified as non-essential. Some important measures in this regard have been the implementation of the Minimum Living Income, the Extraordinary Social Fund and the strengthening of primary care social services and the moratorium on non-mortgage consumer loans.
  • Also due to the paralysis of these activities, there has been an increase in unemployment, negatively affecting the achievement of the ODS 8, decent work and economic growth. To alleviate these effects, some measures have been put in place such as ERTE, the extension of unemployment protection to certain groups, Social Security quota discounts or the extraordinary benefit for self-employed workers.
  • Loss of income and non-payment of bills have led to a lack of access to basic supplies and even a risk of loss of housing, making it difficult to achieve the goals. SDG 6, 7 and 11.
  • In the same sense, there have been serious disturbances in the production and distribution of food, as well as a generalized closure of school canteens.
  • The serious overload of the health services, already weakened, has made it difficult to respond to the virus and thus the achievement of the ODS 3, Health & Wellness. It is necessary to highlight the essential role of transnational research, with results accessible to all.
  • Given that job and economic precariousness especially affect women, and in Spain there are many people working informally, there has been a great increase in gender and socio-economic inequalities, moving away from the achievement of the ODS 10.
  • Also in relation to gender issues, there has been an important increased vulnerability of womenboth economic (greater exposure to contagion due to greater female presence in health sectors and informal jobs, overload of care work, etc.) and social, since many women victims of sexist violence have been confined with their aggressor. It is essential to implement contingency plans against sexist violence and human trafficking, and protection measures for LGTBIQ + groups.
  • Another gap detected has been access to digitization in economically vulnerable groups, which has made it difficult to access quality education (ODS 4) during the months of confinement.
  • Given the pandemic situation and the short-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, there has been a reduction in commitment to climate action (ODS 13), for which the approval of the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, as well as its different strategies (PNIEC, etc.) will be very important.
  • Regarding ODS 16There has been a significant difficulty in access to justice and reparation measures, due to the paralysis of administrative procedures. To correct it, it would be necessary to implement procedural and organizational measures to streamline judicial and administrative processes.
  • There has also been a retreat towards the exclusive attention of national problems, and an erosion of solidarity, thus making it difficult to achieve the ODS 17.

A comprehensive consultation with companies Spanish (needs, expectations regarding the Strategy, etc.), who have participated with good will and great ambition. The objective of this participation process is to detect the strengths and level of implementation of the SDGs in their strategies. In this regard, it is worth highlighting:

  • Almost half of the companies surveyed claim to have a sustainability or CSR policy, and have identified their priority SDGs. Gender equality (equality plans, conciliation measures, etc.) is the area most worked on, while climate action (circular economy, health promotion, etc.) is in third place.
  • A quarter have developed or are developing products or services that contribute to the SDGs in some way, that is, they are moving from words to action.
  • In a third, social action projects have been developed.

However, it is also important to draw attention to the room for improvement, since only 27% of the companies consulted carry out some type of internal training on the SDGs, and there are still 39% of SMEs that do not carry out any measure related to the achievement of the SDGs.

It is evident that there are priorities in the economic plane, derived from the crisis, but in general companies are aware of the importance of sustainability, beyond the pandemic. They consider it important to strengthen relationships with their stakeholders, and they believe that in this way they will improve their reputation and financial results.

Finally, regarding the conclusions and priorities for the future, it is important to implement the SDGs among the self-employed, SMEs, which generally have fewer resources and options, but are a large component of the Spanish economic fabric. It is also necessary to incorporate more concrete measures, landing the 2030 Agenda in the daily action of companies. In terms of sectors, energy and utility companies are more committed to climate and environmental goals. At a general level, it can be concluded that gender, health and climate objectives are the priority areas.

He then intervened Richard Borreani, Head of sustainability in the Cropscience area of ​​Bayer, who places an important emphasis on the challenges that society still has ahead.

First of all, it highlights the increase in the world population (FAO estimates that in 2050 we will be close to 10.000 billion people, that is, about 2.200 billion more than now) and the aging of the population. The number of people over 60 will double. Furthermore, the climate challenge forces us to accelerate our efforts to address water scarcity and biodiversity loss, among many other issues.

As a world leader in health and food, Bayer's commitment is to contribute to solving some of the main challenges and to assume this responsibility by increasing its efforts to generate a positive impact on society and our environments through our actions based on the Goals of Sustainable Development (SDG) of the United Nations that mark our path in how to guide our efforts to help society and the planet.

Bayer's purpose "Science for a Better Life" guides the company's actions to help achieve a high quality of life on a healthy planet. To this end, they drive science and innovation. They develop solutions that address the most important ecological and social challenges and needs to achieve their "Health and Food for All" vision.

Bayer has important goals regarding access to health care, food security, support for small farmers and the empowerment of women. At the same time, it seeks to reduce the ecological footprint throughout its entire value chain, from our suppliers to our own production and the use of our products by consumers, patients and farmers. In this regard, they have set objectives related to decarbonisation, biodiversity conservation and further reduction of environmental impact. In line with the United Nations global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they have set ambitious goals and want to be judged in the future on how effectively they achieve them.

More than 2.300 Bayer employees in Iberia contribute in a fundamental way to the purpose: 'Science for a better life'. Its work for innovation in the areas of health and food addresses two of the first SDGs: “Zero Hunger” and “Health and well-being”, and Spain's contribution to all of this is fundamental.

At Bayer Spain, gender parity in teams is very high (52% men, 48% women) and 40% of the management team is made up of women.

All work centers strive to reduce emissions, recycle, save water significantly, regardless of the type of center: factory, office or farm.

All this, without forgetting that there are only one hundred and six months to go to 2030.

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