UNDP - A Conversation with Businesses: How can the private sector in Përmet contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Sustainability represents a pathway for the future development of local businesses in Albania.
This has been the main takeaway from a conversation with businesses in Përmet organized by UNDP, in partnership with FAO, in the context of the UN joint project "Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs".
The project is supporting Albania to translate the ambitious Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into tangible actions in the industrial sectors of agri-processing and textiles, both selected for their significant impact on Albania’s economy. The meeting brought around the table eleven local micro and small enterprises in Përmet, the mayor of Përmet and UN and UNDP representatives to discuss opportunities and challenges for local businesses looking to develop and grow in line with the Agenda 2030.
Ms. Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator for Albania, highlighted the importance of partnerships and networking for the success of local businesses. Furthermore, Ms. McCluney drew some connections between the work of local companies and the SDGs, quoting Goal 15 "Life on Land" and Goal 12 "Responsible Production and Consumption", which relate to environmental protection and waste disposal. She also hinted at the fact that the European Union accession will bring opportunity as well as extra weight on companies. Micro, small, and medium companies are a big part of the Albanian economy and are important for its growth. Small companies are often the most sustainable ones, even though they are often not aware of it. One of the objectives of this meeting is indeed "to make you, as companies of Përmet more aware of the sustainable practices you already have in your business and assess the challenges that you face".
The discussion gave voice to the perspectives and challenges of these micro- and small family-owned businesses working in the agriculture and agri-processing sector (gliko, jams, honey, cheese, and wine production, as well as agritourism) and the textile sector (artisan embroidery). The event represented a good opportunity to take stock of the challenges businesses face in Përmet while raising awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals and their potential contribution to the progression toward the Sustainable Development Goals and why they are so important.
Among the key takeaways was the fact that territorial inequalities between urban and rural areas are still very present in Albania. The use of innovation, digital technologies as well as the branding of local products (for instance, through the label ‘Pro Përmet’ in use for the past 15 years) is going to become essential for the development of these local businesses.
UNDP Resident Representative Monica Merino said: "At UNDP, we work every day on projects that contribute to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which means improving people’s lives, protecting the environment, and much more. Through the project "Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs," we focus on Albanian companies: what these goals mean to you and how they can be used to help you in your business while making the world a better place. Finally, the activities of today aim to shed light on practices and processes you already have that are sustainable. In this way, you will be able to leverage them better to do better business. I am thankful to the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for their support and for taking an active role in the SDG journey of Albania. Their approach in finding and co-creating models is resulting in new ways to work with the private sector."
On the human capital side, the return of young people to rural areas to create these sustainable ventures is crucial. In particular, the stories of the entrepreneurial journeys of young women have been among the most inspiring of the event.
The insights gathered will be integrated into the SDGs roadmap for the Albanian private sector created in the scope of the project "Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs." We aim to have more conversations as fruitful as this one with businesses all over Albania in the coming months and keep exploring how the Sustainable Development Goals can be adapted at the local level.
- *The project "Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs" is a UN joint project implemented by UNDP (lead), FAO, ILO and UNIDO and funded by the Government of Sweden through Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).