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Biscay Fiscal (Tax) Policy and the SDGs

The Biscay Fiscal (Tax) Policy and the SDGs project is a research collaboration designing fiscal policy around the SDGs between IIPP and the Biscay Government, based in Bilbao, Spain.

About the project

The Biscay Fiscal (Tax) Policy and the SDGs project is organised around two deceptively simple questions: How do you use fiscal policy to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? And, what would it mean to align a tax system – for the first time – with the SDGs? Over the last year, IIPP researchers have been working in close partnership with the Biscay Government on these questions in support of their ambition to establish a world-first Sustainable Development Goals-oriented tax system.

Despite the urgency of the SDGs and the recognition of the importance of fiscal policies, research on SDGs and taxation have been primarily focussed on improving tax bases in low-income countries or on specific SDGs. While extremely important, this work speaks less to high-income countries that are equally bound to the SDGs and lacks a holistic perspective. Here we have great potential to not only employ taxation to raise funds, but also to build markets and direct economic activity in a greener, more just, direction. 

As a first output of the project, IIPP has authored a Policy Report that lays out the design of a composite index, which would enable tax authorities in Biscay to link corporate taxation to the SDG contributions of participating firms. The Policy Report lays out the ambition, principles and design of the index. This note provides a vision for how tax authorities can work with corporations to drive more sustainable development. Subsequent work has defined the specific measures and benchmarks, and work is on-going regarding the adoption and implementation of this approach. 

In addition to the focused work on taxation, this work brings a wider public value lens to economic growth in the Basque region of Northern Spain. It draws on several strands of IIPP’s path-breaking thought leadership and research – rethinking the role of the state, transforming institutions and rethinking the role of value and capitalism in the 21st century. In the current COVID-19 landscape, this work becomes even more vital for an inclusive, green and sustainable economic recovery for the region.


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