Public-private partnerships, the key to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Zaragoza has become a meeting point for companies and institutions committed to their environment. For two days the fifth National Congress for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was attended by almost 250 participants from all over Spain. In September 2015, 193 world leaders approved the 17 SDGs included in the United Nations Agenda for 2030. This agenda is even more ambitious than the SDGs for eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all, and presents some new developments: it applies to all countries (including developed countries) and involves the whole range of stakeholders, including companies.

The alliances between the public and private sector are so important that they constitute a specific goal in themselves: SDG no. 17. This topic was central to the fifth edition of the congress, and was encapsulated in its name: “Social Responsibility in Public-Private Partnerships for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Leading experts in the area of Social Responsibility discussed the importance of corporate social responsibility in public-private partnerships, the principles governing companies, and corporate social innovation as a business strategy to promote economic and social development.

“Poverty and financial exclusion pose a challenge of such dimensions that to tackle it successfully we need to work together from the private and public sector”, said Tula Ducasse from the BBVA Microfinance Foundation during her talk on the panel entitled “CSR in partnerships for development”. Since 2007, the Foundation has signed a series of alliances with important local and global actors in the area of poverty and development, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and United Nations.


Tula Ducasse of FMBBVA, at the V National Congress for CSR

Assuming common goals and sharing resources, the key to public-private partnerships

Miguel Ángel Martínez de la Riva, head of the company and development unit at the Spanish Cooperation Agency (Aecid), explained that work had begun to incorporate companies as stakeholders in development, and described the protocol for public-private partnerships for development (PPPDs) used by the agency. In these agreements, both parties acquire a commitment based on shared goals with a measurable impact on development. They also jointly assume resources, risks and achievements.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda contains a call for partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society –inclusive partnerships that are built on a foundation of principles and values, a shared vision, and common goals that prioritize people and the planet, and that are necessary at the worldwide, regional, national and local level. In the words of the former UN Secretary General: “To successfully apply the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must move rapidly from commitments to actions. For this we require solid, inclusive and integrated partnerships at all levels”.