On September 25, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with objectives including eradicating poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and halting climate change, among others. This agenda will guide global development action until 2030 and lays out a roadmap for achieving a common goal: worldwide sustainable development.
The 2030 Agenda is a comprehensive and multidimensional agenda - referring to the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental) - and universally applicable, unfolding through a system of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through which it aims to address the major global challenges. Its success requires an effective multilevel governance system from the international, national, regional, and local spheres. In this sense, the SDGs have been agreed upon by governments, but their success largely depends on the action and collaboration of all society's actors. Among all of them, the private business sector must play a clear leadership role to ensure the prosperity of territories, generate employment, offer training opportunities and career development, and thus achieve the eradication of inequalities.
The SDGs pose a challenge to achieve more sustainable management but also provide an opportunity that allows translating global needs and ambitions into business solutions. These solutions will enable companies to access new markets and improve their efficiency and reputation, which would lead to better economic results. Traditionally, the field of sustainability has been associated with large companies and multinationals, but the movement in favor of good business practices with society and the environment has become part of the regulations that also affect SMEs. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the regulatory framework is already occurring and will increase its impact in the future.
On December 29, 2018, the Non-Financial Information Law came into force. This law is a mandatory requirement for companies of a certain size; however, obliging these companies to report on social and environmental commitment practices can collaterally affect smaller or medium-sized companies that are suppliers to the former. This is causing a significant short and medium-term change in operations and requirements for SMEs that want to supply to larger companies. Parallelly, and with increasing intensity, other regulations are also incorporating aspects related to the 2030 Agenda. The Companies Act, the Equality Act with new obligations related to equality plans, the future Climate Change Act, or the Public Sector Procurement Act, which already incorporates new social and environmental criteria in a mandatory and cross-cutting manner in multiple areas of the public procurement process, are some examples of the reference legislation that is part of the sustainable development strategy for 2030.
It is evident that in the coming years there will be an increase in strategies and regulations in sustainability matters. Companies that integrate the SDGs and the 2030 agenda into their business model will find it easier to adapt to new regulations and ensure competitiveness in the market, while seeing increased efficiency and corporate reputation.