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EC plans to promote CSR agenda at Rio+10

July 2001

The European Commission is expected to promote corporate social responsibility as an important element of the Johannesburg world summit on sustainable development next year.

The EC says that it is keen to promote CSR at the summit, known as Rio+10, as part of its stated commitment to raise awareness of environmental, social and ethical issues within multinational companies and in developing countries.

The approach was put forward at a recent EC consultative conference in Brussels on ‘Best business practices for corporate social responsibility’, at which participants concluded that the commission’s work on CSR needed to be ‘reviewed with the objective of ensuring coherent and credible contributions to Rio+10’.

The conference agreed that the EC should ‘take stock’ of its CSR policies so the commission can present a strong case for action at Johannesburg in autumn 2002.

A conference communique stated: ‘Now is the time for action on corporate social responsibility’. Robert Madelin, a director in the EC’s Directorate-General for Trade, said that Rio+10 should become the focus of EC initiatives on CSR. Madelin’s responsibilities include trade issues as they relate to sustainable development, standards and certification, export credits and investment.

The consultative conference was attended by representatives of European companies, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties ‘to exchange experiences on their socially responsible practices at EU level’.

A second consultative conference is likely to be held next year.

CSR Europe, the European business-led campaign, said: ‘The original Rio summit was very much focused on environment, but since then the social aspect has come to the fore, and it’s essential that it is discussed in relation to business activity at the summit, which will be an ideal stage to raise the profile of CSR.’

Rio+10 will be held from 2-11 September 2002. It will bring together world leaders, United Nations agencies, financial institutions and NGOs ‘to assess global change’ since the Rio summit on environment and development in 1992.

Ministers of the Belgian government, whose EU presidency begins this month, have said they want CSR to take centre stage during their six-month tenure.

 




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