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Banja Luka: 2021 SDG Business Pioneers in B&H promoted

At a ceremony held on 2 July 2021, at Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka, SDG Business Pioneers in BiH for 2021 were promoted.

A competition for SDG Business Pioneers is held on an annual basis with the aim to promote the efforts and engagement of the private sector in the field of sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.   The 2021 Award offers a better focus on the companies that create and retain jobs and are active in decarbonising their business activities, but it also introduces the category of SDG Award for Local Communities to recognize the local communities’ support to the private sector in the field of sustainable development. Having adopted a Framework for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and having established a Sustainable Development Council, this year Bosnia and Herzegovina levelled up its recognition of SDGs and 2030 Agenda and opportunities for a significant advancement of social, economic and environmental aspects in the country, as well as for strengthening a regional cooperation. Despite COVID-19 pandemic conditions, this year has seen a record-breaking number of applicants, namely 75 companies submitted 106 applications. In 2019 there were 44 companies with 55 applications, while in 2020,  71 companies submitted 106 applications. „Today, in this beautiful surrounding of Kastel, we celebrate Business Leaders and local communities who, through their work and operation, best promote and implement activities aimed at meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Business leaders across the country have recognized the importance and the level of impact the private sector has and are committing to actively support creation of better-quality jobs and protecting the environment. Environmental protection, sustainable and smart development, acting to mitigate and combat climate change effects, while leaving no one behind, are at the core of Sweden’s support to Bosnia and Herzegovina “, stated Torgny Svenungsson, Deputy Chief of the mission with the Embassy of Sweden in B&H.

Torgny Svenungsson, Deputy Chief of the mission with the Embassy of Sweden in B&H

2021 awards were granted for the categories “People” and “Resources and Environment”, and the overall winner for Bosnia and Herzegovina was selected among the companies that applied in both categories.

In the category “People” the awards are granted to those companies that are inspirational to others in terms of creation of new jobs, and this year’s winners are Dekonta BH in the category of micro-size businesses, Smrčak d.o.o.  in the category of small-size businesses, Ministry of Programming in the category of medium-size businesses and Lanaco in the category of large businesses. In the category “Resources and Environment” the winners for micro and small-size businesses are Šumska tajna and Smrčak d.o.o. In this category, the winners for medium and large-size companies are ESOF d.o.o. Donji Vakuf and Coca-Cola HBC B-H. SDG Business Pioneer in BiH for 2021, or the overall winner of this year’s competition, is the company which also scored the highest number of points for its abiding by GRI standards (Global Reporting Initiative) and realisation of SDGs, namely, Smrčak d.o.o. „First of all, I want to thank the organisers for having recognised our efforts to work in line with sustainable development principles in every field that was listed. I believe that we all should work like that and follow these principles. I think that all of us here are the winners because we conduct our business activities in line with the sustainable development principles.  We all have to raise awareness of the need to work and live in line with sustainable development principles so that we leave this planet as a better place for the next generations”, said Marko Mijatović, representative of the company Smrčak.

Marko Mijatović, representative of the company Smrčak

2021 competition was richer for one more award, which is the SDG Award for Local Communities that enacted relevant measures and extended support to the private sector during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

SDG awards were granted to the local communities of Bosanska Krupa, Cazin, Doboj, Novo Sarajevo and Teslić.

SDG Business Pioneers Award recognises and emphasises the efforts made by private sector companies in terms of realisation of SDGs in B&H and motivation to new participants in the private sector to include SDGs in their business models.  As of this year, an official partner for this award is Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus providing local level effects of this Award.  This partnership aims at improving the cooperation and raising awareness of the importance of sustainable businesses, circular economy, digitalisation and decarbonisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.    This Award is granted as part of the project SDGs Roll-out Support and Private Sector Engagement, implemented by UNDP and financed by Sweden. „Private sector is a very important partner in terms of realising sustainable development goals, and therefore we count on all parties involved to give their support.  This programme, which encourages business leaders to participate and show their best practices, has been realised for three years now and it keeps changing. What makes this process remarkable is that every year the interest is higher. This year for example, despite the COVID-19 pandemic conditions, we received more than 100 applications for awards. In addition, this year we have a novelty in the programme. We published a call for representatives of local communities to present their activities in this field. We are exceptionally glad to be able to grant awards to those who achieved the best results “, stated Steliana Nedera, UNDP Resident Representative in B&H at closing of the ceremony.

Steliana Nedera, UNDP Resident Representative in B&H

This year’s SDG Business Pioneers Award is focused on the companies that create new jobs and retain high-quality jobs while working actively towards decarbonisation of their business activities. 22 companies entered the final round where GRI standards were used as the basis of evaluation methodology for the received 106 applications, and the evaluation process was led by Almir Bajraktarević, who is the representative of the last year’s overall winner- Cement Factory Kakanj, Vjekoslav Domljan, PhD and rector of Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and Mr Marko Kakuća from the Development Agency of Republika Srpska.