On the 15th of February Dutch businesses gathered on a conference in a former bread factory in Rijswijk, to look for answers to the question: How can The Netherlands as an innovative trade and investment partner contribute to solutions for global challenges related to food, water, circular economy and innovation?
“All companies should anchor CSR in their DNA and recognize ‘doing good’” – Lilianne Ploumen
The conference was opened by Liliane Ploumen, minister of foreign trade and development cooperation. In her speech the minister underscored the importance of collaboration and innovation between corporate and NGOs to realize the SDGs.
Among other speakers were Jennifer Kockx programme manager at TU Delft Global Initiative. This institute fosters solutions for development solutions as they posess over expertise in challenges as water, health and resources. Kockx who considers there is more needed than trade alone to tackle global challenges suggested: “to go from aid to co-create (ed. together with developing countries ) instead of going from aid to trade”.
World Bank’s Frank Heemskerk stressed the importance of large corporations in realizing the SDGs and proposed to pick one SDG and focus on this one, to give less but to lend more and to facilitate and insure.
After these keynote speakers and presentations of some SME’s already contributing to the SDGs abroad participants scattered into several pop-up “iglo’s” to participate in break-out sessions. In the session on international corporate social responsibility (IMVO) transparency and accountability within the textile sector was discussed by panel members from SER, G-Star Foundation and IDH.
Discussed was the role of legislation like the IMVO agreements, which was thought of as a good starting point but only stresses the bottom line and then the question remains: does legislation mean abiding by the rules? To the opinion of Holly Syrett “the government shouldn’t intervene through legislation but rather provide tools to work towards the SDGs and educate about the SDGs.”
The ‘hear hear’s’ and the stamping of feet in a House of Commons Debate, where pointing arguments and some smooth rethoric skilss passed by, marked the end of the conference. Hugo von Meijenfeldt coordinator national implementation sustainable development goals, closed the afternoon stating that: “The SDGs do not only offer companies guidance for coherence, direction and speed to impact. Companies that choose for the future render significantly better. ”