How do companies contribute to the SDG agenda?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) no longer have the focus on development cooperation alone – as did the Millenium Development Goals -, but a focus on sustainable economic development. What this means becomes obvious by comparing numbers: 137 billion Dollars are spent on development cooperation. 10 times as much is spent on foreign direct investment, 3-4 times as much as transfered back by the diaspora, and the outflow of developing countries is unfortunately also higher. Development cooperation thus represents a drop in the ocean, and the international development community has recognized how important direct investments and institutional investors are to achieve the SDG.

But what do businesses say about the SDG? According to a survey from the German Global Compact, 75% of German companies perceive the SDG to be important for their business. In order to shed more light on this complex relationship of business and development, BMZ and BDI, the  Confederation of German Industries, initiated a workshop series to discuss amongst their member companies, NGOs and public sector how companies can better contribute to the implementation of these ambitious goals. Working both with the public and the private sector in developing contexts, it was interesting for Endeva to experience the convergence between the different players.

The workshop aimed to overcome the traditional divide between the call for more state intervention for more sustainable companies (usually from NGOs) and the call for standards on a voluntary basis, in order not to hinder innovation (usually from companies). Re-considering these boundaries was best summarised by Antje von Dewitz, CEO of the sustainable outdoor equipper Vaude: “The protection of German companies, stemming from strong lobbying, can ultimately become an obstacle to innovation: in the end, China will overtake with their technologies.”

The opening workshop aimed to set company priorities to be further developed in the next three workshops. Click here for more information.