Supply chains represent over 80% of global trade, and engage over one in five workers, according to Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
The minister said that, looking at global supply chains through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlighted the significant role of global supply chains in achieving the goals.
These chains can specifically help achieve Goal 8 for decent work through job creation and trade support for developing countries. They can also put in place Goal 9 for industry and innovation through an increase in the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises to markets, and enhancing the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries. At the same time, they are helpful for Goal 17, regarding partnerships for the goals through improving cooperation and increasing the exports of developing countries.
Minister Al-Mashat’s remarks came during her participation at this year’s European Sustainable Development Goals Summit, the first that Egypt has ever taken part in.
The summit brought together a worldwide community of more than 5,000 sustainability leaders, including business representatives, industry federations, national partner organisations, NGOs, and policy makers. It aimed to promote dialogue on how to strengthen sustainable supply chains and create an economic system that contributes to the UN SDG Goals.
The participants included President of the Dutch Economic and Social Committee Mariette Herman; Director General in the European Commission Koen Doens; President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe Johan van Zyl; Mariam Dao Gabala, Chairperson of the International Supervisory Board at the international civil society organisation Solidaridad; Sun Luhui, Director of the Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals (China); and Björn Böhning, the Permanent State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Minister Al-Mashat noted that enabling sustainable supply chains is a shared duty between the public and private sectors, Governments play a role in ensuring that supply chains are sustainable through enforcing legal framework that protects the public interest, and underpins responsible business practices, and regular monitoring of business performance.
In regards to the private sector, she added that the SDGs explicitly call on businesses to solve sustainable development challenges, as business is considered to be a vital partner in achieving sustainability and the SDGs.
To push for sustainable supply chains, the minister stated that governments and policy makers should practice “stakeholder capitalism”. These principles foster and promote meaningful engagement, and offer economies a unique opportunity to prioritise a circular economy centred around human and social aspirations.
Regarding the Egyptian-EU cooperation, Minister Al-Mashat stated that the two partners have a strong strategic partnership that spans over several decades. Together they have put in place more than 37 projects across transportation, energy, health, education, and environment, amounting to more than €1.35bn in grants.
She added that there has been a shift in development cooperation to a new paradigm, covering development cooperation effectiveness. The emphasis here is about partnerships, including with governments, development partners, the private sector and civil society.
These would ensure that entities and organisations work together to advance global and national economic strategic goals, as well as accelerating progress on the SDGs in this decade of action.
To achieve this, Minister Al-Mashat noted that the Ministry of International Cooperation has been working to strengthen economic diplomacy through three main principles: regularly organising multi-stakeholder platforms to ensure that all projects between development partners are streamlined and effectively aligned with the national agenda and the 17 SDGs; adopting a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative covering People&Projects&Purpose (P&P&P); and mapping ODA financing to SDGs for all projects with multilateral and bilateral development partners.
Since the launch of the lending operations in Egypt in 1979 to the present, the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) has granted €10,640bn in investments to public, private, banking, equity funds. The bank finances more than 95 projects in various priority sectors for the Egyptian government, such as renewable energy, transportation, water and waste water, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).