unctad.org | Putting the Rio corporate social responsibility agenda into action: Inter-agency Roundtable on CSR
Putting the Rio corporate social responsibility agenda into action: Inter-agency Roundtable on CSR
12 November 2012
Corporate Social Responsibility
On 6 November 2012, UNCTAD, the International Labour Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development hosted the second annual Inter-agency Roundtable on CSR. This annual event brings together corporate social responsibility (CSR) specialists from international organizations and national governments, along with select civil society representatives, to discuss current trends in CSR.

The 2012 CSR roundtable focused on how United Nations agencies and other international organizations are working to address key outcomes of the Rio+20 conference. The meeting was attended by representatives of 12 international organizations and three national governments, by four civil society participants and by representatives from industry and labour.

The event was moderated by Mr. Richard Howitt, Member of the European Parliament and Special Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility to the European Parliament.

CSR roundtable
Participants at the 6 November 2012 CSR roundtable


"UNCTAD has long taken an interdisciplinary approach to CSR and sustainable development," noted Ms. Tatiana Krylova, Head of UNCTAD's Enterprise Branch, in her opening comments. "We are pleased therefore to work with other international agencies to explore how the full range of social, environmental and economic issues can best be addressed."

Divided into three separate sessions, the one-day event featured lively discussions through an open roundtable format. In particular, participants addressed the need to promote a more holistic approach to sustainability issues, and also focused on sustainability reporting in light of new mandates from member States coming out of the Rio+20 summit that had been held in June 2012. Several participants shared experiences regarding public-private partnerships (PPPs). They debated the pros and cons of these partnerships, but generally agreed that such partnerships, when carried out in the right way, can be excellent tools for promoting sustainability.

Common themes throughout the day included the need to ensure the complementarity of projects and policies, to strengthen collaboration including through multi-stakeholder initiatives, and to promote best practices in both developed and developing countries. Mr. Howitt summarized the discussions in his closing comments by observing that there was a need "to team up, to scale up" in the area of CSR and sustainable development, and encouraged international organizations to work together more closely.

The annual CSR roundtable provides a unique opportunity for participants to share knowledge and best practices, and was praised by participants for its open and dynamic format. "In its second year now, the Inter-agency Roundtable on CSR is proving to be an excellent opportunity to foster new projects and strengthen collaboration between international organizations and their development partners," said Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise. "We look forward to seeing this format repeated in years to come."


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