Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs
Business Partnerships & Solutions for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) that prepares and trains Albanian business for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in their business models. The activities in Albania are focused on two main sectors, agro-processing and textile, clothing, leather and footwear (TCLF), both selected for their significant economic impact on the country’s overall economic performance and employment. The overall goal of the project is to raise awareness among companies about the SDGs and to support businesses in becoming more sustainable by improving working conditions and processes. Furthermore, it is expected to contribute to enabling the participation of small and medium enterprises in global supply chains and upgrade their standards in preparation to Albania’s future integration to the European Union. The project supports Albania in translating the ambitious Agenda 2030 into action through the drafting of analysis and roadmaps, the engagement of Albanian businesses, the creation of partnerships with Swedish counterparts and the promotion of SDGs and good practices among the wider business community, including chambers of commerce, business associations, investment promotion agencies, local and regional development agencies, technology parks and business accelerators.
The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and implemented by UNDP (lead), FAO, ILO and UNIDO in Albania.
In the past 25 years, Albania’s dynamic private sector drove the transition that pulled the country’s development forward to a middle-income status. Albania is a small open economy that relies on the production of goods and services that make extensive use of natural resources — especially water—and semi-skilled labour. An engaged private sector that takes a long-term social responsibility is needed to create jobs, strengthen markets, and build a sustainable society. SDGs provide a critical window of opportunity to rethink its present and future role.
Albanian companies currently have a low awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as their impact on the environment and society at large. In some cases, they are unknowingly already implementing sustainability practices in their businesses but do not have the context to expand them further and hone into future sustainable investments. However, these long-term choices in sustainability can give them a strategic advantage in the future, especially thinking about the challenges of our times, such as the energy crisis, inflation, lack of raw materials and skilled workers, and the EU integration process. Combined with updates in business and trade regulation at a national level, for instance with regards to export, recycling and traceability, these practices can contribute to increase the resilience of Albanian companies and support their sustainable growth over time.
The overall objective of this Project is to raise the awareness among private sector actors about SDGs and the ways businesses will benefit from them and contribute to their implementation in Albania. Indeed, in addition to offering a wealth of expertise and disruptive innovation, businesses can help mobilize much needed capital in support of the SDGs, while reorienting their strategies to create value not just for their shareholders, but society at large.
The project seeks to achieve this by relying on the Swedish experience, as the Country has been at the frontline of efforts to link the SDGs with the work of the private sector and has established itself internationally as a model. The activities focus is on investment and facilitating business to business cooperation while at the same time supporting the private sector in the delivery and monitoring of social and environmental impact.
Making known good practices from Sweden is expected to lead to better understanding and engagement on the SDGs and help identify opportunities to co-design and pilot solutions pursuing growth and productivity, whilst at the same time contributing to a better society in the agro-processing and textile sectors.
As a result of the implementation of project activities, Albanian companies are expected to become more aware of SDGs and ESGs as well as to be exposed to and implement sustainable practices in their business models. Agro-processing and textile sector businesses, relevant sectoral associations and academia are being consulted and actively contribute to the Zero Roadmap publications containing the next steps to align to sustainability and European Union standards.
Furthermore, opportunities are being created both for policy dialogue with Albanian government and for partnerships with Swedish and international businesses, including through the organization of the Business #2030 Conference.
National sustainability champions are under selection and additional companies in the textile sector are being trained through the 2nd rollout of the SCORE programme by the ILO. Last but not least, the potential for the creation of a cluster of sustainable companies and a common “sustainability label” in Albania is being explored.