Jeannet Lingan, Stakeholder Forum
Trust and credibility have become a focal point for corporations today, especially during the wake of the financial crisis. A result of this is that there is now an array of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to help businesses adopt socially responsible and sustainable long-term strategies.
However, this does not go far enough. A large proportion of corporations are still failing to adopt even the most basic of CSR practices and without a global legal framework, the situation will continue to worsen. In response to this, there is now a clear call for the international community to re-start a dialogue on developing an international convention on corporate responsibility and accountability.
Over the past three decades, discussions in the international negotiations on environmental and social issues around this issue have provided a platform to build upon. Despite regulation of corporations not being included in the first Earth Summit Agenda in 1992, a chapter was prepared by the UN Centre for Transnational Corporations. The subject was raised again during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. Looking forward to Rio+20, paragraph 24 of the Zero Draft gives us yet another opportunity to reinvigorate the conversations around the private sector’s contribution to global sustainable development efforts.
An international convention on corporate responsibility and accountability will provide a coherent framework to incorporate the private sector into global sustainable development efforts, establish a level playing field for all corporations with clear rules for practices and obligations, therefore increasing business accountability and performance, and would give governments a better tool to ensure practices are aligned to international agreements and societal expectations.
Taking bold action on private sector sustainability
There is now an opportunity for different sectors to provide their inputs and perspectives and work towards a multi-stakeholder proposal for a convention on corporate social responsibility and accountability within the preparatory process for Rio+20.
A global multi-stakeholder process engaging civil society organisations, corporations, and corporate social responsibility initiatives is being convened by Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future and Vitae Civilis. The objective is to create synergies with existing initiatives and sectors, and to pursue a coherent international strategy for securing a call for a convention on corporate responsibility and accountability in the Rio+20 final document.
For more information visit: http://www.csradialogue2012.org/