Key to sustainable development

María Victoria Álvarez * and Mauro Solano **

07-15-2023 01:53

The celebration of our first forty years of uninterrupted democracy stands as an ideal opportunity to reflect on the role played by each of the social, economic and political actors for the development of our country. In particular, what is the role of civil society and how can it collaborate to face future challenges?

In Argentina, the role of civil society organizations has evolved over time. The first were born in the middle of the 19th century, being contemporaneous with the process of constitution of the national State. They fulfilled the function of both organizing the competition of the elites for power and defending sectoral interests. Already in the 20th century, new organizations arose with new objectives, such as the production of collective goods.

In particular, with the advent of democracy, civil society has acquired a growing role through the use of a series of actions in the public arena: from the provision of services to vulnerable populations to the enrichment of the debate with new ideas, the social mobilization, the implementation of government programs, the promotion of new laws or the monitoring of government measures.

Entering the 21st century, there is no doubt that civil society organizations –especially those that seek to promote social change or “influence”– are called upon to fulfill at least two fundamental roles. The first, in relation to the State: accompany public management, providing knowledge, good practices and dialogue with the rest of the social actors. The second, in relation to the market: act as allies, not only for the adoption of a socially responsible approach, but also for the measurement of the ethical, economic, social and environmental impacts of the actions and decisions of a company.

In the future, the relationship between the State, society and the market will probably undergo significant transformations. Global challenges force the three sectors to work interdependently, showing strong synergies. The state will play a crucial role in regulating and balancing market forces to ensure growth, equity and sustainability. Society, through its organizations and boosted by technological advances and growing connectivity, will demand greater transparency, inclusion and participation in decision-making processes. The market, driven by innovation and competition, will continue to be a powerful engine of economic growth and wealth creation. However, you will also be expected to adopt ethical and responsible practices that align with broader social and environmental goals. This relationship coincided with active collaboration, adaptive governance and an ongoing dialogue between the State, society and the market to effectively address the complex challenges of the modern world.

This continuous dialogue is an essential part of the concept of corporate social responsibility, which has evolved in recent years towards an approach that proposes that organizations integrate the measurement of said impacts (ASG or ESG) into their management. . This perspective is increasingly relevant to measure the value of companies: it is considered that the risks and opportunities derived from ESG factors can affect the cash flows and financial stability of companies and, therefore, their sustainability.

As a result of this new approach, global standards have become more complex, in turn impacting the demands of the markets, which challenge both private and public sector companies. The latter are highly relevant for sustainable development given their high participation in strategic sectors of the economy. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), one in five of the world’s largest companies is a state-owned company, and their role as global competitors continues to grow.

Both public sector and private sector enterprises are critical to sustainable economic and social development. In view of this objective, from Cippec we seek to promote the management of environmental, social and governance factors in companies, based on the construction of a common agenda between the public and private sectors, finding coincidences is essential for the present and future of our country.

*Director of Public Affairs at Cippec.
**Director of State and Government of Cippec.