On October 16th, our founder, Benito Baranda, joined a panel of distinguished speakers to discuss the topic Fulfilling UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Americas.
Ambassador of Chile to the US Juan Gabriel Valdés opened the session with remarks about the importance of using the Sustainable Development Goals as a shared reference and promoting public-private partnerships: “The UN Sustainable Development Goals represent the possibilities of optimism for international cooperation in a world in which, in recent years, there is a tendency to disengage.” He pointed to important efforts on the part of the Chilean government to fulfill the environmental goals 13 and 14 that directly affect Chile’s economy and quality of life.
Of America Solidaria, he said, “America Solidaria has managed to create a network with private and public sector actors, showing that it can be done.”
Veronica Zubía from the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Relations joined the panel as the author of the country’s plan for business and human rights. She pointed to the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business, a tool unanimously endorsed in 2011. Before, human rights were considered the domain of government; after the adoption of these principles, it became clear that businesses also need to respect and fulfill human rights. During the process of implementing the Chilean plan for business and human rights, business representatives came to realize that their company’s actions can promote or impede the fulfillment of human rights.
Carolina Delgado joined the panel in her role as International Corporate Relations Manager for Diageo, a British liquor multinational with brands such as Johnny Walker, Baileys, and Tanqueria. As Delgado states, “Inclusive growth makes businesses grow as well.” She commented that their corporate social responsibility program impacts 14 of the 17 Goals along their supply chain, including creating employment, reducing gender inequalities, and developing responsible production facilities to conserve water, climate, and energy. With consumers, the goal is to reduce misuse of alcohol and consumption by minors. As Delgado stated, “It may seem far-fetched to discuss an alcoholic beverage company fulfilling the SDGs but brands can connect with people.”
Benito Baranda shared his perspectives after 15 years of working with the nonprofit organization America Solidaria throughout Latin America. Initially framed to support the Millennium Development Goals, today America Solidaria works primarily towards the first six Sustainable Development Goals as well as goals 16 and 17, focused on building strong institutions and cross-sectorial partnerships. Baranda recounted the experience of officially completing the first project of America Solidaria this year, in a clinic in Haiti: “Today there are 35 doctors who attend more than 300 patients daily. That’s the goal of America Solidaria – making the community the protagonist.”
According to Baranda, “Poverty is surely the primary privation of liberty in the world.” A child born in the wrong place cannot achieve his or her full potential at a fundamental, neurological level. Early childhood intervention makes the most difference.
He shared some positive news from America Solidaria’s programs – In Cité Soleil, Haiti, there were originally 14 children attending school, and now there are over 1000. Baranda stated, “In Huaycan, Peru, what we have seen is that through our programs, children stop being poor because they realize they have a richness, they can contribute to society.”
Thanks to all the presenters for a rich discussion on the possibilities for cross-sectorial partnerships and the important role that the private sector plays in fulfilling the SDGs and ensuring the protection of human rights. For photos (credit to Grupo Gort), visit this album on our Facebook page.