Norway makes bid for global leadership roleMarch 2009
The Norwegian government has published a white paper on corporate responsibility that signals a greater future role for the country in promoting CSR around the world.
The 100-page document attempts to clarify Norwegian companies’ international responsibilities on human rights, working conditions, the environment and corruption. But it also suggests the government and its foreign office – which published the paper – will develop advisory services for, and promote dialogue with, businesses abroad.
The white paper is part of the government’s push for a ‘binding international framework for CSR abroad’. Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store said the hope was that it would begin an era in which the Norwegian government takes more of a role in setting corporate responsibility goals around the world. ‘The responsibility of policymakers and the business sector to ensure decent working conditions does not stop at the Norwegian border,’ he said.
Among likely actions to follow from the paper will be a strengthening of Norway’s National Contact Point system, which deals with complaints against Norwegian companies under the OECD Guidelines for multinationals. The government will also put more resources into promoting the United Nations Global Compact and will increase its financial support for the Global Reporting Initiative sustainability reporting guidelines, which it hopes will spread further around the world.
On the domestic front, trade and industry minister Sylvia Brustad said she will amend the Accounting Act to extend the duty of Norwegian companies to provide information on what they are doing to implement ethical policies. However, the government does not favour mandatory sustainability reporting.
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