UK Foreign Aid is key to responsible business

Maria-Jose Subiela, Global Goals Director at Business in the Community, sets out the two-way relationship between foreign aid and UK business.
The UK is a signatory of the global development agenda defined by 17 Global Goals that include ending poverty and improving health and education for all while tackling climate change and working to preserve healthy ecosystems.

Businesses understand that the world operates within an interconnected system, and functional relationships with other countries are necessary to successfully source and sell globally. The boundaries of Responsible Business transcend borders and can’t ever be constrained to one country.

At Business in the Community we advocate for and are catalysts of partnership work. Foreign Aid enables the UK to be in leadership position and underpins these key partnerships. One important example of these partnerships in action is when on the ground agencies and businesses are brought together to respond usefully to natural disasters that have a massive human and environmental impact.

Our Responsible Business Map helps businesses navigate these Global Goals to identify where they need revisit how they run their businesses to be a force for good. But businesses need the right local environments to thrive responsibly. From our close work with businesses leaders and the data we collect, we know one of the challenges businesses face when raising their own standards is operating in countries where there is weaker governance and sourcing materials from less developed countries. Foreign Aid fosters development in countries where businesses wouldn’t be able to operate otherwise, it opens markets and it generates a better environment for responsible business.

Everyone has a role to play. BITC promotes purposeful leadership and leadership at all levels within business. Consumers have a role to play. Governments clearly so. The UK needs to lead domestically and internationally in meeting the world’s development agenda. A cut to Foreign Aid won’t help responsible business, won’t help the UK.