The Sustainable Development Goals are designed to be a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity”

Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. is one of the companies taking initiatives to bring quality education to the countryside. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

EDUCATION is considered a powerful and key factor in development and seen as a powerful instrument to fight poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability in the Philippines.

For this, companies have initiated what is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This in turn is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were initiated by the United Nations (UN).

Global Goals

The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, are a set of 17 interconnected global goals designed to be a “common blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future”, according to the UN. The SDGs were established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly (UN-GA) and are expected to be achieved by 2030. They are included in a United Nations resolution called the 2030 Agenda or so called colloquially the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs were developed as the future global development framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which ended in 2015.

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The UN has listed 17 of these SDGs, all of which aim to solve the world’s common socio-economic problems: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; drinking water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life under water; life on earth; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.

Each goal typically has a maximum of 12 targets to achieve, and each target has between one and four indicators used to measure progress toward achieving the targets. Targets are either “result” targets or when ideal conditions are achieved. These latter goals were introduced late in the SDG negotiation process to address concerns of some Member States about how the SDGs were to be achieved. Goal 17 is entirely about how the SDGs will be achieved.

Corporate social responsibility

Rather than relying entirely on government, the private sector, especially business, has taken the lead in achieving these SDGs in the form of CSR. This is defined as a voluntary commitment to contribute to sustainable economic development, in a way “that is good for business, the sustainability agenda and society as a whole”.

While the Aboitiz Foundation is involved in various CSR activities, the foundation invests heavily in education-related projects.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

While the Aboitiz Foundation is involved in various CSR activities, the foundation invests heavily in education-related projects. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CSR in the Philippines has always been voluntary. Donations, which may qualify as CSR, are tax deductible provided they meet certain conditions.

To ensure and document compliance with CSR, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has already launched in 2019 the regular submission of sustainability reports for listed companies, informed by consultations with stakeholders, even if it is not mandatory for companies to practice CSR. . According to the SEC, sustainability reports assume that companies conduct their business ethically; that they manage the main impacts; and that their products and services create value for society. These are also incorporated into the SEC’s corporate governance codes.

These local guidelines reflect globally accepted frameworks for non-financial reporting, such as the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Standards, which are aligned with the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary agreement entered into by companies to enforce the principles of sustainability.

CSR in action

One of the SDGs pursued by Philippine business is education (the third SDG). Quality education is one of the needs of the Philippines, especially in the countryside, which is lacking because the communities are poor. Providing a good education will be the key to solving this problem.

Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. (GFNI) is one of the companies taking initiatives to bring quality education to the countryside.

The GFNI has provided scholarships and other forms of assistance to deserving students, including those who are members of indigenous groups. Employment opportunities are also offered to these beneficiaries to support their families. Education projects also involve the improvement of school facilities, the provision of educational materials to schools, teacher training programs and the payment of honorariums to teachers.

The Aboitiz Foundation has a tradition of giving back more than a century ago when the Aboitiz family started their business and realized the need to care for the well-being of those who worked for them. In 1965, Don Ramon Aboitiz started a foundation — Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., a family foundation rooted in Don Ramon’s belief that “man’s dignity is best respected by helping him realize his hopes and by sharing with him the burden of his fears.”

In 1988, the Aboitiz Foundation was created by the Aboitiz Group as a corporate foundation to meet the social and economic development needs of marginalized members of society by helping these people help themselves.

Although involved in various CSR activities, the foundation invests heavily in education-related projects. Between 2014 and 2019, it invested in the education of 302 scholars and produced 262 graduates through its Purposive college scholarship program, 80% of whom gained employment. The Technical and Vocational Fellowship produced 652 fellows and 578 graduates.

Not only has this helped people educate themselves, but it has provided them with quality resources. This is reflected in the Classroom Rewiring campaign. The Visayan Electric Co., part of Aboitiz Power, rewired and provided energy-saving lighting to schools in Cebu province.

Benefits of CSR

While CSR compels companies to give, they also get something back in the form of benefits. Some of the benefits for businesses include:

This builds public confidence. Through CSR, companies have the opportunity to show they care about the community by giving back. This in turn translates into public trust, which is amplified in the media. Most consumers are likely to spend money on a company or business that engages in CSR activities aimed at improving society.

It strengthens positive relationships. By building public trust, it creates a sense of community. This gives the public the image that the companies are not in it for the money or just making a profit from the community, but that they are a partner of the community. People would like to work for them and the company would hire and retain them because they would provide a positive work environment that would make them more productive.

Sustainability. CSR ensures that businesses are more aware of the need to protect the environment through sustainable practices such as the use of renewable energy, energy conservation and the use of materials that produce little or no energy. carbon emissions.

It increases profits. While companies tend to give more than they receive when it comes to CSR, one would think that they will not benefit from it. On the contrary, they can always make a profit. As companies strive to improve their CSR, many additional benefits arise. Since CSR builds public trust in these companies, many will be inclined to patronize a company’s products and services if they practice CSR. As a result, they will get more benefits than when they do not practice CSR.

It promotes professional and personal growth. When companies have a culture of CSR, they can easily promote volunteering among their employees. Employees are more likely to become altruistic if their company encourages this behavior. It will also make them more productive and creative. They will not only become a better employee, but a responsible member of society.

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