Corporate Governance and Sustainable Development – by Bojana Bogojević

At the present moment, when only a few economies of the world have recovered from the global economic crisis that befell, and only spill-over has occurred for the rest, corporate governance has become a vital solution for the economic growth and sustainable development to which every economy aspires.

What is Corporate Governance?

Corporate Governance is the system of process and rules under which a company is directed and controlled. Corporate Governance isn’t just a set of value statements. There are a significant number of very technical legal requirements that companies must follow in order to demonstrate that they have good corporate governance.

Why good Governance is important

Fundamentally, there is a level of confidence that is associated with a company that is known to have good corporate governance.

Corporate governance is known to be one of the criteria that foreign institutional investors are increasingly depending on when deciding on which companies to invest in.

It is important to tell that having  a good and  clean image on the corporate governance front could also make it easier for companies to source capital at more reasonable costs.

However all crises, and their economic consequences, have a positive side. They create a general alarm for change and illustrate that the previous systems need to be improved for future progress. The positive impact of the economic crisis could be used as a guideline for establishing stable and above all sustainable development.

What is sustainable development?

It is a concept that appeared for the first time in 1987 in Brundtland Report also known as Our Common Future published by the World Commission on Environment and Development. In this Report  the concept of sustainable development is introduced and described how it could be achieved. Subsequently the Brundtland Report called on the UN to establish the UN Programme of Action on Sustainable Development. The Brundtland Report  laid the foundations for the Rio Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which then ultimately led to the creation of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development that same year.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. It is important to know that  achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with their 169 targets, form the core of the 2030 Agenda. They balance the economic, social and ecological dimensions of sustainable development, and place the fight against poverty and sustainable development on the same agenda for the first time.

Well-functioning legal and state institutions with the necessary rule of law are vital for good governance. A weak judicial system where laws are not respected and implemented, particularly regarding corruption, leads to the undermining of respect for the rule of law, widespread degradation, and threatens aspirations towards sustainable development and progress.

Therefore, in order to develop, attention and efforts must be directed towards establishing a functioning legal system where the penalties for non-compliance with legal norms are imposed and applied. Otherwise, the beta risk affecting the attractiveness of investing in a particular country, in this case Serbia, will continue to grow, and for the very companies that need to be the main drivers of overcoming a particular countries economic problems, the increase in alpha risks affects the quality of their corporate management.

As British economist Joan Robinson said: “The purpose of economics is not in constructing the model, but in a constant effort to make life easier to all humanity.”

The question that inevitably arises at this point is how does good corporate governance affect sustainable development? Good corporate governance contributes to sustainable economic development by improving company business results, increases operational efficiency, and facilitates and improves access to capital markets. This leads to a reduction in company capital raising costs, increases the value of assets, and thereby contributes to a better corporate reputation.

Few societies understand the complexity of these issues

At the beginning, it is necessary to access certain parts of the comprehensive restructuring of corporate management. This is a complex and often time-consuming process but must be approached if we want to make progress.

In order to ensure a proactive approach to sustainable development, as viewed through the prism of good corporate governance, it is necessary to focus and direct limited government and domestic investments towards the most profitable companies.

In most cases, if a specific company wants to survive in this new business environment it must completely stop the current practice of business, work and behavior. A company must adapt to these new conditions by adopting the principles of good governance to implement change. The changes that must be introduced are comprehensive and require the construction of a new, efficient system of business values that will dominate the quality of operations, business ethics, and above all, the business culture. These changes are necessary not only for a particular business organization, but possibly the entire economic system.

Improving good governance practices in society also leads to improved accountability systems. These accountability systems significantly decrease the risk that employees will commit fraud or conduct business for their own personal benefit.

Significant strides towards sustainable development would be achieved if we actively and responsibly implement these solutions to overcoming existing problems.

When we talk about Serbia, the Balkans, and other economies that are in transition from a planned to full market economy, the economic crisis that we faced, and which unfortunately has not yet passed, is only partly a result of the global financial and economic crisis. The primarily reason the Serbian economy, and other transit economies, is developing under very volatile and problematic circumstances is the economic systems are constantly being tested due to inherited, and it is fair to say not enough and in some parts absolutely undeveloped, economic and commercial structures.

Serbia – National Sustainable Development Strategy (incl. SCP)

The National Sustainable Development Strategy defines sustainable development as a target-oriented, long-term (continuous), comprehensive and synergetic process affecting on all aspects of life (economic, social, environmental and institutional) at all levels.

The transition period of the national economy, and society as a whole, represents a comprehensive adaptation to new and, above all, required standards. In the Republic of Serbia and greater region, the desired standards taken are the standards of the European Union.

As economist and philosopher Adam Smith said: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”

Some parts of this Professional article are published by the Bar Association of Serbia, Long Term Economy portal in Italy, and several  media outlets in Serbia.

Bojana Bogojevic
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