Spanish SMEs Week: Promoting the integration of sustainability and responsible recovery from COVID-19

Madrid, Spain

The following is an article submitted by a Global Compact Local Network. Please contact the network representative listed below with any questions regarding its contents.

First edition of Spanish SMEs Week:  promoting the integration of sustainability and the responsible recovering 

  • Among the activities organized within this Week highlights the publication of the guide "SMEs and COVID-19: towards a sustainable recovery", a document that offers orientation to undertake the recovery of SMEs with the support of the 2030 Agenda.
  • The commitment of Spanish Global Compact SMEs to sustainability is firm, especially in the environmental area, where 93% of them have a specific policy.

Madrid, 25 June, 2020 — UN Global Compact Spain, within the framework of the Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, established by United Nations for the June 27, has organized the I Edition of the SMEs Week, in which the local network will develop different activities and publications aimed to share knowledge and experiences to promote the integration of the sustainability in the core of these companies.

This year, International SMEs Day comes in a context of great economic difficulty for small and medium enterprises, which have seen their businesses endangered due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19. In this regard, the figures are not at all encouraging, since estimates by international bodies such as the OECD state that more than 50% of SMEs may not survive the coming months. Therefore, the Spanish Network considers essential to protect and strengthen small and medium enterprises, as they are the engine of the Spanish and global economy (they represent 65% of employment in Spain and 50% worldwide). To this end, it proposes an increase in the ambition of this type of company to comply with the SDGs, which contains multiple opportunities that will ensure their resilience.

In words of Cristina Sánchez, Executive Director of the Spanish Network, ‘the commitment of Global Compact Spanish SMEs to sustainability is firm and its achievements reflect increasingly significant figures. Proof of this is that, according to our annual consultation, 93% of them have an environmental policy and more than a 60% of them have already committed to achieving the SDGs. These data, despite still being behind the figures of the large companies, reflect a very positive progress that we, as the Global Compact Spanish Network, have the responsibility to support through the creation of specific materials and the dissemination of their progress in terms of sustainability, especially during such critical situations as the one we are experiencing’.

During the SME Week, the Spanish Network will hold several courses including a specific Virtual Session, will disseminate a dossier of best practices of the Spanish small and medium-sized companies and will publish a new guide under the name "Pymes y COVID-19: hacia una recuperación sostenible” (SMEs and COVID-19: towards a sustainable recovery).

This brochure describes the situation of these companies and offers orientation for undertaking the recovery of their businesses with the support of the 2030 Agenda. It also sets out the three key challenges that SMEs will have to face during the crisis: adapting to the new situation, promoting digitalisation, and taking advantage of new market trends. Likewise, in order to encourage small and medium-sized companies to commit to the transition towards more sustainable models, the document analyses the opportunities that SMEs may find in each of the SDGs within this context of change. These include, for example, the promotion of renewable energies and energy efficiency, the commitment to local products or the creation of partnerships with other key actors.

Spanish Local Network identifies the blue economy as one of the keys to achieving 2030 Agenda 

This year's World Ocean Day, celebrated annually on 8 June, focuses on innovation as a tool to create a sustainable ocean. An area in which the business sector has an important role to play through the reformulation of its businesses to increase their positive impact and reduce their negative impacts on the marine ecosystem. To encourage this business contribution to caring for the ocean, the UN Global Compact Local Network Spain has published the white paper "Healthy and sustainable oceans: opportunities for the business sector in the blue economy", in which it urges companies and organisations to take effective measures that contribute to the health and prosperity of the ocean based on the principles of sustainability and Agenda 2030.

In order to make visible the need to work on the sustainability of the ocean, the document places special emphasis on the weight of the blue economy. The paper also points out the main pressure points that are affecting the health of the ocean. And it emphasizes the linkage of SDG 14 over the rest of the 17 SDGs. The document also highlights the growing commitment of the business sector. An example of this is the more than 60 companies that have already signed up worldwide to the Sustainable Ocean Principles. Among them are 21 Spanish companies.

On this same topic, the Local Network Spain also held the virtual session: Sustainable businesses and oceans. Ocean-based solutions for achieving 2030 Agenda with national and international experts and companies working in this topic. The objective of this session, as presented at the opening, Cristina Sánchez, Executive Director at Spanish Local Network, was "to highlight the role that companies have in a sustainable ocean, because when we think about the planet, we inevitably think in green, but experience shows us that the health of the oceans is in danger, with 80% of biodiversity at stake". It is necessary to make all companies aware of the need to preserve and carry out actions to protect the oceans, even though we start from a reality: that the SDG 14, life bellow water, is the least worked on by Spanish companies".

300 Initiatives with Principles: Spanish companies and organizations united to respond to COVID-19

The Spanish Local Network, embracing the special appeal of UN Global Compact, has taken a lot of actions around a collective response to Covid-19. Among these actions, we have compiled 300 initiatives from our partners related to a corporative response to the pandemic. 

The Spanish Network launched on April 1 and until June the campaign #IniciativasconPrincipios (Initiatives with Principles). During the last two months a total of 165 partner organisations of the Network have participated with 300 published initiatives. The result has been very positive and demonstrates the commitment and solidarity of a large number of Spanish Network partners in the face of the health and economic crisis resulting from the pandemic.

In order to collect them, we have created a special web site, to  upload and to search by issues and read them. They are classified and can be filtered by the SDGs and the Ten Principles.

At the end of the campaign, the Spanish Network of the Global Compact has compiled all the 300 initiatives in a Special Dossier that can be consulted in this link.

Among the actions implemented by the organisations, the following stand out: support for workers to secure their jobs, collaboration with state and regional governments through material, financial or logistical resources, support for research into COVID-19, strengthening and improvement of health protocols in order to apply the principles of prevention and guarantee a safe working environment, promotion of teleworking and virtual meetings whose impact on the climate is being very positive and the creation of solidarity funds to help the most vulnerable people or those at risk of social exclusion.