How SMEs can implement the SDGs, opting for a sustainable growth model

COPADE Foundation focus their efforts on promoting and guiding Spanish SMEs on the path towards a fairer and more sustainable business model, since they play a fundamental role in the Spanish economy by representing 99.8% of all companies in the country, 63% of GDP and 74% of employment, according to INE data.

Following this line, from the Foundation they detail a series of recommendations that any SME can carry out in SDG matter at first to fulfill, little by little, with each one of them:

  • End of poverty (SDG 1): eradicate poverty in all its manifestations. SMEs can contribute their grain of sand by establishing fair working conditions, hiring people belonging to vulnerable groups, collecting food for donations and selecting entrepreneurs as suppliers and collaborators.
  • Zero hunger (SDG 2): the main axis is to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. To comply, companies must train and inform about good eating habits and encourage the reduction of food waste, make food donations and/or have solidarity meals, collaborate with local food banks and promote the consumption of healthy, nutritious products. and responsibly produced.
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3): guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being for all at all ages. As a company, organization at work must be improved to avoid stress problems, allow conciliation, integrate safe and motivating work environments for the workforce into business management, introduce work and family reconciliation policies.
  • Quality Education (SDG 4): focused on ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education. SMEs can promote the hiring of interns, provide flexible hours for training, hire profiles of various kinds and characteristics, participate in campaigns to collect school supplies for students in vulnerable situations, donate computer equipment to vulnerable families or groups that work with them, as well as collaborating with entities whose purpose is to guarantee access to education.
  • Gender Equality (SDG 5): offer the same opportunities to both men and women. To this end, it is essential to promote equal hiring, have zero tolerance for any form of violence or discrimination, implement salary policies that ensure equal pay by gender, support organizations and/or join acts against gender violence and fight for gender equality etc
  • Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6): guarantee the availability, sustainable management and sanitation of water for all people. In this sense, small and medium-sized companies must, among other actions, avoid water losses due to leaks, promote responsible water consumption among staff, install efficiency devices, reuse water, use ecological cleaning products and reduce discharges.
  • Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7): access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all people. In fulfilling this commitment, information must be provided on the rational use of energy and its compliance must be ensured, staff must be trained in sustainable energy, promoting the use of public transport, shared cars or bicycles to go to work, hiring supplies with companies that offer clean energy and thermally insulate the premises where the activity is carried out.
  • Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8): sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and fair work. As a company, you must make fair labor contracts, support the local economy, support entrepreneurs, take measures to achieve a safe and equal work environment and cooperate with entities to contribute to sustainable economic growth.
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9): build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. To comply with it, innovation, entrepreneurship, access to ICTs must be promoted, circularity of production processes must be promoted, raw material reused, collaboration with innovation centers to improve production processes, etc.
  • Reduction of inequalities (SDG 10): This goal focuses on reducing inequality within and between countries. Therefore, the actions to be carried out, among others, are: enhance skills and train the workforce, support the local economy, hire people with disabilities or at risk of social exclusion and establish processes and codes of conduct.
  • Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11): This goal aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The actions focus on facilitating all available resources to raise awareness and educate about respect for the environment and the use of energy, manage wastewater and respect and integrate cities in the development of business activities.
  • Responsible Production and Consumption (SDG 12): we must ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Being responsible for the resources we use and the consequences of our activity for the planet. For this reason, it is important to change consumption and production habits, promote sustainable lifestyles, report on the “Zero Waste” movement, opt for local suppliers and/or periodically carry out internal audits.
  • Climate action (SDG 13): take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects. To do this, it must: ensure the responsible use of energy during the working day, adapt to climate change by implementing renewable energies and/or carry out mitigation, repair, compensation or environmental emergency plans. If the business activity allows it, promotion of teleworking.
  • Life below water (SDG 14): conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. In this sense, SMEs can raise awareness of the importance of protecting marine ecosystems, reducing the consumption of single-use plastics, developing contingency plans and promoting food obtained through sustainable fishing.
  • Life of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15): sustainably manage terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, halt land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. As a company, you can avoid printing paper, use FSC and Fair Wood products, implement recycling systems and/or contribute to habitat conservation and restoration projects.
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16): promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, facilitate access to justice for all people and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. To comply with it, a channel for complaints of non-compliance with equality policies can be installed, a code of conduct can be drawn up, transparency in human rights matters and crimes of fraud and corruption can be prevented.
  • Partnerships to achieve the goals (SDG 17): In order to successfully achieve our objectives, it is essential to establish inclusive alliances at the global, regional, national and local levels. In this way, the SDGs can be integrated in the business environment and in the workforce, measure progress and compliance with them, form alliances with other companies, etc.

Selection of companies to improve their contribution to the SDGs

COPADE currently has the project underway “SMEs and ODS: promoting companies for change through the measurement of the Social Footprint (HS)” that allows companies to measure their effects on people and the planet and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through the Social Footprint.

An initiative in which 50 Spanish companies from Alicante, Malaga, Madrid, Cartagena and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to encourage them to evolve towards more sustainable models and that has the financial support of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Agenda 2030 and the collaboration of the Rise of Innovator consultancy (Creadores de lo Inesperado SL), specialists in the Grasshopper methodology that will be applied .

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