Global CSR Retreat | 2013
From 12 to 14 March 2013, the first Global CSR Retreat took place in Geneva, Switzerland. It was attended by 27 participants from around the globe, among them representatives of some of the largest companies in the world. In the course of three days, they worked together addressing issues such as the changing business environment, CSR challenges, materiality and reporting, as well as management challenges in the field of sustainability. Participants particularly appreciated working together with their peers in a safe environment on issues that are directly relevant to the everyday reality of their jobs. The Global CSR Retreat was implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of German Federal Minstry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The Global CSR Retreat revolved around a selection of topics highly relevant for the participating companies, namely:
- Changes in the Business Environment
- Materiality and Reporting
- CSR Management Challenges
The participants of the Global CSR Retreat discussed a wide variety of CSR challenges and trends and came to the conclusion that:
- There is increasing pressure on the private sector to produce social or public goods in their operations as a way of maintaining their license to operate with stakeholders both far and near.
- Some standards can become an insignificant tickbox exercise, and there is a need for standards which are relevant and useful in driving change in business One way to ensure this is by directly linking the business case to sustainability standards.
- Due to shifting power balances between TNCs and members of their value chain, it is sometimes difficult to change supplier sustainability practices. As a result, there is an increasing need to work together with industry peers, international and development organisations in order to set higher standards across an industry.
- There is a need to integrate sustainability into all business activities, to further strengthen the business case and to embed it into company values.
- There are serious capacity challenges associated with gathering and interpreting data. In order to capitalize on all of this information, companies may use industry associations, international organisations, NGO networks and third party advisors to build knowledge surrounding sustainability.
- The CSR standards environment is very complex. A supportive – and above all consistent – regulatory environment is essential, but companies don’t need to wait for standards to push the boundaries of sustainable business practices. The private sector can take the lead on innovative approaches that take CSR to the next level.
The full summary report on the event is available here.