Business is a key actor within the economic system, controlling significant resources and holding direct relationships with people, communities, and the environment. When it comes to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is clear now more than ever that a team effort is needed. Companies must act soon but not alone: different stakeholders can participate in the process and build synergies that will help amplify the business’s positive impact by working together to tackle global challenges.
At B Lab, we believe that companies’ decision-making processes and incentives should consider all stakeholders. The consistent narrative across the actors in the economic system is the creation of stakeholder value. And all stakeholders can be allies for systems change.
Collaboration between businesses and other actors can happen at different levels: local to national, across borders, and within industries. In 2022, Barcelona City Council, through Barcelona Activa, Ferrer, EADA Business School, and B Lab Spain launched the project Barcelona+B (BCN + B), which adds Barcelona to the Cities CAN B, a global movement that is already present in 6 countries.
Cities CAN B is a global movement designed to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people – citizens and organizations – to collaborate in pursuit of the SDGs through multi-stakeholder and decentralized governance.
Through a collaborative and multi-sectoral approach, everyone participates without the need to agree in advance on a specific strategy or roadmap. Each member of the governance structure or strategic partner can pursue their own goals and benefit in their own way, as long as they are in tune with the agreed common purpose. Thus, the paths of action are multiple and varied, all under a previously shared common goal.
Cities CAN B is a movement that advances thanks to the associative work of all the participating sectors of the city: citizens, companies, government, entrepreneurs, social innovators, academia, and organized civil society. They all promote a cultural change that redefines how we assume responsibility and impact the cities we build and inhabit.
Barcelona+B is a pioneering initiative in Europe that seeks to improve the social and environmental impact of Barcelona’s companies and citizens, to turn them into its main agents of change and positive transformation. The objective is for companies, universities, foundations, public institutions, entrepreneurs and citizens to work together to make Barcelona a better city, making it a benchmark in business transformation and in contributing to the SDGs at the local level.
© Marta Llobet (B Lab Spain)
In a city faced with the need to act against the climate crisis and social inequalities, the objective is to change how people and companies relate to their hometown, becoming agents of change in a new economic paradigm. The project has three lines of action:
Barcelona+B offers a series of tools, training and initiatives for companies, organizations and citizens to help them concretely act for change.
Impact Lab is a training program that guides companies in improving their social and environmental impact and thus contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a space where hundreds of companies exchange practices, create a network and learn how to integrate sustainability management and improve their triple impact: economic, social and environmental. During their journey, businesses have access to various tools and standards that align with the SDGs, such as the B Impact Assessment and the SDG Action Manager, both designed by B Lab, and other international sustainability standards (GRI, IRIS).
In this program, companies can sign up for three different training courses.
Started as an initial assessment for the design and construction of Barcelona+B, this program’s results will have a medium and long-term journey. The objectives are to support amplifying the social and environmental impact of those who live, work, and enjoy Barcelona and transforming it into a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive city. +500 people have participated in the different activities of the project, +31 Barcelona challenges have been identified, five inspiring and innovative solutions have been shared with citizens and 150 ideas on solutions have been provided by citizens. In addition, at the end of the year a new project focusing on inclusive employment and diversity, Employment+B (Empleo+B), will kick off, involving a group of specialists, institutions, NGOs, citizens and companies. The objective is to get companies committed to a journey of transformation on the topic.
There are also Coffees with Impact: events aimed at creating a space where citizens, entrepreneurs and organizations can talk internally to collaborate on the most relevant SDGs in the city. So far, these events are contributing to the development of studies on responsible leadership education and best practices to implement a climate action plan in companies.