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  • Writer's pictureBORIĆ & PARTNER

SDGs as Opportunities and Challenges for Companies in Croatia

In today's post of our blog series "One Step Beyond," we discuss how companies can recognize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an opportunity and fulfill their corporate responsibility. The SDGs call upon all companies to contribute to sustainable development through their investments, developed products, offered services, and business practices. The 17 SDGs encompass a broad range of issues, from poverty, hunger, and health to education, equality, climate change, and environmental protection. The SDGs can serve as a framework to align all business activities, goals, and strategies of a company with individual sustainability issues. For this reason, the SDGs provide valuable support for start-up companies in designing their business models. It is crucial to understand that all companies are affected by the SDGs, regardless of the sector in which they operate.

One Step Beyond

Opportunities and Challenges for Companies

There are numerous opportunities for companies in Croatia to actively participate in the implementation of the SDGs. However, implementing the SDGs can be a significant challenge for companies that not only want to fulfill their social responsibility but also want to create new business opportunities. The following concrete steps should be considered by companies in implementing the SDGs:

  • Understanding the SDGs: Each company is affected by the SDGs and can participate regardless of its size. Understanding the significance of the SDGs for the company and willingness to engage with the contents and objectives of the SDGs is the first step.

  • Impact analysis: Companies should analyze their business practices and investments to understand their impact on the SDGs. This helps to determine where the company can best contribute to achieving the SDGs. This way, individual priorities for each company can be defined, and positive effects for business activity can be determined.

  • Collaboration with others: Companies should collaborate with other companies, governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to achieve a broader and deeper impact.

  • Integration of SDGs into business strategy: Companies should integrate the SDGs into their business strategy and ensure that all business areas and processes are in line with the SDGs.

  • Transparent reporting: Companies should report transparently and openly on their progress in implementing the SDGs, including speaking about challenges and obstacles.

  • Employee engagement: Companies should involve their employees in the implementation of the SDGs and explain the significance and benefits for the company.

From the UN Global Compact, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, numerous international organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Labour Organization (ILO), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) have created different frameworks, standards, principles, and guidelines. These enable companies to assess the impact of their business activities on sustainability and ultimately implement them into financial reports. These initiatives are based on the realization that the global impact of corporate actions also requires a common global language to describe their impact on sustainability and then take appropriate measures. These initiatives include the SDG Compass developed by the UN Global Compact, GRI, and WBCSD, which identifies 57 tools for companies that comprise a list of over 300 indicators. It is intended to help companies align the implementation of a sustainability strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Legal aspects in Croatia

In addition to the national programs and strategies issued by the legislature (such as the National Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Croatia issued in February 2021), there are numerous legal regulations in Croatia that companies must consider when implementing the SDGs. These include, among others, the Law on Environmental Protection and Nature Conservation, the Law on Occupational Safety and Health, the Investment Promotion Act, the Law on Energy Efficiency, the Law on State Support for Research and Development Projects, the Law on Renewable Energy Sources, and the Law on Gender Equality, just to name a few. Companies must ensure that their business activities and investments comply with these regulations and that they have all the necessary permits and certifications.

In addition, companies in Croatia can also benefit from various funding programs and tax incentives when contributing to the implementation of the SDGs. For example, the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship, and Crafts has launched the "Green Investments" program, which supports companies in making sustainable and environmentally friendly investments.

In summary, the SDGs represent an opportunity for companies to promote sustainable development while also unlocking new business opportunities. However, the successful implementation of the SDGs requires close collaboration among all stakeholders and comprehensive engagement from companies, taking into account the legal aspects in their respective sectors. Croatia already has a wide range of programs that support companies in contributing to sustainable development. Therefore, companies should be informed about the relevant regulations and opportunities to ensure that they effectively contribute to the implementation of the SDGs and also benefit from existing funding programs and tax incentives.

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