Sub-principle 2.B


Ensure sustainable development results by aligning core business and development interests


Why is it important?


The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets are ambitious and require a transformation of both public and private activities and greater collaboration among public and private actors. This means encouraging the adoption of new business models, bringing in new innovation/technology and doing business differently – more sustainably and more ethically. Partnerships with the private sector are more likely to succeed and have the intended sustainable development results when they are linked to the core business operations and those facets of it that are “development-relevant”. Trade unions can work with the private sector to ensure that development results and the respect of rights are part of the core business operations. Trade unions have a role to call out business models that are detrimental to sustainable development and undermine the SDGs’ impact. This role is important for holding the private sector to account. 

Self-reflection questions
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  • How can you encourage businesses to better align their core operations with the ambitions of sustainable development? 
  • How can you ensure that rights are respected and due diligence observed in core business practices/operations? 
  • Have you been able to provide input on how partners in a PSE project or programme will jointly define and measure development and business outcomes? 
  • Are the private sector partners willing to change their business models to create truly inclusive markets that endeavour to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement? What actions can you take to support them on this journey?

Actions to consider
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  • Ensure that the development-related objectives of PSE projects are on track and/or met.
  • Ensure that social dialogue is part of the core business practices of the private sector organisations involved in the development co-operation project. 

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Remain quiet when government and development partners use inappropriate or excessive incentives to attract business to the detriment of development outcomes and rights. 
  • Assume that efforts to align with development-related objectives are only businesses’ responsibility.


In 2007, the textiles multinational INDITEX and IndustriALL Global Union signed the first Global Framework Agreement in the clothing and footwear sector. This instrument has become an essential tool for ensuring the practical participation of workers and the improvement of labour rights in the very broad supply chain of this multinational company, as well as for extending the example to other multinational companies in the sector. By 2017, INDITEX was working with more than 1 700 suppliers and over 6 665 factories in the 45 countries where its supply chain operates.

According to IndustriALL Global Union, since the signing of the Global Framework Agreement, more than 2 million workers are being protected and seeing improvements in their working conditions. An example of this type of multilevel initiative has been the joint approach taken with IndustriALL and members of the Spanish textile trade union federations in Bangladesh. The purpose was to allow the representatives of the workers in INDITEX to be able to monitor the working conditions in its production chain and, in turn, to verify implementation in situ.

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