PH MSMEs and the sustainable dev’t goals – Manila Bulletin

The recent baseline study conducted by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on Philippine employers’ uptake of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) showed that over half of the responding micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are aware and actively contributing to the attainment of the individual goals.

Goals are a collection of seventeen (17) interlinked objectives designed to serve as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. The SDGs emphasize the interconnected environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainable development by putting sustainability at their center.

According to the report, the MSME respondents that are mostly from the manufacturing sector have high awareness and understanding on the SDGs that concern the “People” category, specifically Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being, Goal 1 – No Poverty, Goal 2 – Zero Hunger, Goal 4-  Quality Education. Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth also ranked high in awareness.

In terms of relevance to business, survey results showed that respondents consider Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being to be most relevant to their business, followed by Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The high awareness and value placed on health and wellness underscores the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the business community and employee welfare worldwide.

The MSME respondents also shared their practices that contribute to the attainment of the SDGs, and these include employee and community health and wellness programs, clean-up drives along coastal areas, reforestation and tree-planting initiatives. In addition to these corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, they also have internal policies on occupational safety and health, drug-free and smoking-free workplaces, use of renewable energy, and anti-air pollution initiatives. In implementing these initiatives, some respondents state that the primary motivator is the realization that business operations have a direct impact on the environment, and as such, employers are obligated to contribute to its preservation to ensure not just environmental sustainability, but also business sustainability as well.

In addition, the participating MSMEs also indicated that businesses stand to benefit from contributing to the SDGs, as it helps improve brand reputation and image, fosters compliance to labor standards, improves employee retention, support local communities through the creation of shared value, and facilitate business expansion through the fulfillment of buyer requirements. 

Latest statistics indicate that MSMEs compose 99.58% or over 1.07 million of the registered enterprises operating in the country. MSMEs also provide 62.66% of jobs nationwide and constitute 60% of all exporters in the Philippines, accounting for 25% of the total exports’ revenue. As the backbone of the Philippine economy, empowering MSMEs to contribute to the individual targets of the goals can accelerate the accomplishment of the SDG’s vision. Among other attributes, MSMEs are instrumental in creating employment and providing opportunities for marginalized groups, thus contributing to poverty alleviation, promoting more sustainable consumption and production patters, and a significant portion of MSMEs are also found to be women-owned/led.

However, MSMEs also bear the brunt of high compliance standards and costs. These act as burdens and deterrents for them to contribute further to sustainable development. As such, MSMEs need a policy environment that’s conducive for business recovery and expansion.  

ECOP, through a strategic partnership agreement with its sister organization in Denmark, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), will soon develop and launch a tool on SDG that will help smaller companies create value for both business and society. The tool aims to help look into both positive and negative impacts of each goal in each enterprise, as well as missed and new opportunities both inside and outside the current business model. The tool is to be called SDG Value Scan. The strategic partnership between ECOP and DI runs from 2022 through 2025.





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