The Government of Biscay (BFA) has signed a collaborative agreement with the University College London (UCL) to develop a fiscal policy that helps it meet the Sustainable Goals for Development (SGD) established in the UN’s Agenda 2030.

The goal of this project is not about creating just one tax, like a tax on energy, for example, but rather to encompass the whole fiscal system, creating a tax structure that supports economic growth while covering health, the environment, equality, and education.

We’re not sure that thanks to this, as some articles we’ve read claim, Biscay, and surely all Basque territories as a whole, will become the first administrations in the world to introduce a tax regime that rewards investment that complies with the sustainable development goals (SGD).  But it is true that we are used to Basque administrations being at the forefront in many of these fields.

And that is especially valuable because, in practical terms, our administrations are only forty years old.  This is note the first time we mention this, because we believe it is fundamental to keep that in perspective to understand just how important this is.

While it is true that our chartered administrations are the natural continuation of the governments that Basque society has had for centuries, it is also true that they have only “just” recovered the powers that had been stolen from them by Franco for four decades; even if Araba and Navarre were not robbed of their Economic Agreements, their management was still in hands of the dictatorship, meaning their ability to decide was, even in the best of cases, quite limited.  We have a great article that goes into detail on how that worked.

The Basque fiscal system, specifically the four systems used by each of the territories, has been very active over the past forty years in adapting itself to the needs of Basque society.  And thanks to our (those of us south of the Pyrenees) ability to design our own tax system and collect our own taxes, we’ve been able to create, for example, a social protection system that would only be adopted by the Government of Spain decades later.

This social net is not, as we never tire of saying, a product of the fact that we Basques south of the Pyrenees are “richer”, despite the insinuations of Minister Escrivá in the article in The Economist we blogged about.  The reason is the will of the citizens, set out in the decisions made by Basque institutions through their elected representatives.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Using fiscal policy actively to support economic development that meets SGDs is making a strong bet on the future.  It’s true that there is no guarantee it will pan out.  But it could never hope to without a clear social conscience that takes words and turns them into actions.  But having a tax agency take the initiative like this is one very powerful “lever” towards getting the systems of production, and the whole of society, moving in the right direction.

We’re including three articles discussing this information. One of them is an opinion piece by Asier Alea who, along with Iñaki Alonso and Koldo Atxutegi, is part of a team leading the “Strategic Projects” area of the BFA, in carge of developing this project.

University College London – 9/6/2020 – Great Britain

IIPP enters agreement with Biscay Government for Sustainable Development Goals-led economic growth

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) has signed a collaborative agreement to work closely with the Biscay Government, based in Bilbao, Spain, towards their ambition to launch a world-first Sustainable Development Goals-oriented tax system. IIPP will work closely with the team to develop not only the economic framing of the new fiscal policy, but to bring a wider public value lens to economic growth in the Basque region of Northern Spain.

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Reaccion – 11/6/2020 -Great Britain

Coronavirus could be the environment’s saviour

Perhaps one of the most tangible benefits we’ve witnessed from the various lockdowns imposed around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic is the impact on the environment.  Fewer cars on the road, only a handful of planes in the air and much of industrial production grinding to a halt has meant all of us are – for the moment at least –gazing at clearer skies and breathing cleaner air.  The most recent data showed daily global carbon dioxide emissions fell by an average of 17% by early April.

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AFED – 25/5/2020 – Lebanon

Biscay to introduce world’s first tax system to explicitly meet SDGs

The Biscay Government will become the world’s first administration to introduce a tax regime that rewards investment which meets sustainable development goals (SGDs), it was announced Friday, May 22.

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