CSR 15uly2012Dhaka 2 by lz4SlQ1g

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									Corporate Social Responsibility
Report on CSR in Bangladesh, 2012
BEI, 15 July, 2012 Dhaka
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Brief sharing of Norwegian experience

Ragne Birte Lund
Ambassador of Norway


I would like to congratulate the CSR Centre, Shahmin Zaman and her staff for presenting a
very useful report and tool on CSR in Bangladesh 2012. I also want to thank Farooq Sobhan
President of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute for hosting this event to raise awareness,
greater knowledge, share experience on how to implement good practices.

The issue is no longer whether responsible business conduct makes sense, but how to ensure
that the private sector can be most effectively harnessed to drive long-term economic growth,
environmental sustainability and social progress. The conditions in societies where companies
operate indeed vary. There is no one size fit model -yet - there are certain key principles that
could and should apply in all countries. It needs to go beyond philanthropy. In recent years a
set of CSR standards and universal values that the report also refers to has been codified and
articulated. These have guided the Norwegian Government’s approach.

The Norwegian government encourages the international activities of Norwegian companies.
These activities create value and economic growth in Norway as well as in the host country,
and may contribute towards political and social development.

One of the strongest drivers of sustainable development is in the Norwegian Government’s
view; responsible, long-term investment and private sector development. Through trade and
long-term investment, transfer of technology, knowledge and competence building,
businesses can contribute to infrastructure and asset development, enforcement of ethical
guidelines and labour standards, Corporate Social Responsibility and competence
development.

Norwegian companies can contribute to significant job creation, raised standards and global
competitiveness, increased tax revenues and diversified and sustainable economic and social
development. The companies can show the way for greater participation of women in
economic life. Corporate social responsibility towards people, society and environment that
are affected by their activities has become an integral part of their core values and
governance.

Although Bangladesh has been one of the countries receiving the largest amount of
Norwegian development cooperation funds, I believe today the most important contribution
by Norway is happening through investments in the private sector, notably in the telecom
sector. GP who is one of the companies interviewed in this report and GP has a very
developed CSR policy. Innovation Norway’s Business matchmaking Program in Bangladesh
has proved to be a win-win program for Norwegian and Bangladeshi companies. The
objective of the Program is to establish sustainable and profitable business ventures between
Norwegian and Bangladeshi companies, and reduce poverty in Bangladesh through increased
employment and company profits. In the screening process of the companies both Norwegian
and Bangladeshi CSR plays a major role. Focus on CSR and having a solid CSR policy is one
of the major criteria to be eligible for the program.

Increasingly companies are engaging in commercial activities and in trade with countries that
are affected by political instability, widespread poverty and corruption. It is particularly in
such markets that companies need greater awareness and expertise. However, social
responsibility is relevant irrespective of the market and it applies also to activities in Norway.

So in view of the increased engagement of Norwegian enterprises in the global market, and
the recognition that active cooperation with business is essential in solving the challenges of
our time- such as the financial crisis, climate change and widespread poverty a ground
breaking work was initiated in 2008-2009 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with government
institutions, private enterprises and civil society to formulate a White Paper on CSR to be put
to the Parliament.

The White Paper;” Corporate Social Responsibility in a Global Economy”, was a major step
to develop a comprehensive government policy on CSR. It is the result of a wide consultative
process with relevant stakeholders. The paper acquired strong support as a policy tool from
the parliament. It clearly also states the roles and responsibilities of government.

It sees CSR as responsible engagement. It is about how they integrate social and
environmental concerns in their business and in their interactions with their stakeholders.
CSR is what companies do on a voluntary basis beyond complying with existing legislation
and rules in the country in which they operate.

CSR and some key challenges that the Government clearly expects the companies to address
in their operations

First, we expect companies to respect human rights in all their operations. This includes
among others the human rights of children, women and indigenous peoples, as set out in
international conventions.

CSR is about diligence or awareness to manage the issues and not become complicit to human
rights abuses, to be a positive agent.

Norway has supported the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Business and
Human Rights who in his function is helping to clarify the human rights responsibilities. We
are urging the companies to follow his practical recommendations as to
     Adopt a human rights policy
     Carry out risk and impact assessments of their activities
     Integrate human rights through the company
     Establish a system for monitoring and auditing in order to track their human rights
        performance


Second, companies ought to respect the rights of employees and provide decent working
conditions and pay attention to gender and take action against child labour, forced labour and
human trafficking. Although the main responsibility for regulating the working environment
lies with the authorities of the countries concerned the private sector has an independent
responsibility for working conditions in its own operations. The fundamental standards are set
out in the ILO core conventions. The government urges the social partners to actively
advocate global corporate agreements in order to safeguard employees’ rights.

Let me give an example regarding the supply chain. Even for a large Norwegian enterprise
like Telenor, knowing its supplier chain well enough is demanding. This is a challenge for
most companies in the global economy, and a challenge their employees, customers and civil
society at home expects them to take on. The film “A tower of promises” disclosed child
labour and dangerous working conditions in Bangladesh at the plants of suppliers to their
local partner Grameen phone. To address the challenge the Norwegian parent company
Telenor has had to strengthen the implementation of their supplier conduct principles across
the value chain.


Third, we expect companies to protect the environment and climate.
In 2008 the Norwegian Government pension fund excluded the mining company Rio Tinto
from the fund’s investment universe, due to the fund’s Ethical Council’s opinion that the fund
as investor could be complicit in pollution from a mine in your country.

Increased attention to the issue of complicity means that not only companies directly
operating the plants, but also partners in joint ventures and others in the value chain must
consider their environmental responsibilities today. Institutional investors of considerable size
are putting systems in place to manage these issues.


Fourth, we expect companies to engage in fighting corruption and increasing transparency
.Transparency about a company’s operations and their impact on people and the environment
is in itself a soft power. We need soft but firm mechanisms driving voluntary responsibility.
Transparency is one such mechanism.

According to surveys Norwegian companies suspect they have lost business in their
international operations due to bribery by competitors. 27 % are sure that they have lost
business due to corruption. 34 % have refrained from doing business in a country due to the
country’s reputation for corruption.

Norwegian courts may also hold the headquarters in Norway legally responsible if their
branch in another country engages in corruption even on the level of facilitation payments.
Fines or, up to ten years in prison, may be the consequence.
Any Norwegian company may face situations where bribes or other forms of corruption are
expected. The law is clear the challenge must be handled by the company.

The message is quite clear; CSR is about respecting human rights, respect for the rights of
employees and decent working conditions, protection of the environment and fighting
corruption.

There is yet another side of the coin. The Government not only expresses what it expects of
companies and regulates them. It is an agent in its own right. If we expect companies to act
responsibly we must consider our own responsibility and promote coherent policies in all
areas.

So the white paper also discusses the respective roles and responsibilities of the authorities,
the private sector and other actors.
The Government seeks systematically to boost Norwegian companies’ motivation and ability
to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by strengthening guidance and advisory
measures and by increasing openness and exchange between the authorities and the private
sector.

The main government roles are;

    As law maker and regulator

    Taking part in negotiating international treaties and conventions in relevant areas and
      we are pursuing efforts to develop conventions and other more binding mechanisms.

    When it comes to our own practice the government emphasises CSR in Norwegian
      development assistance and in support for investments in developing countries

    The Government aims for the public sector to be at the forefront in CSR procurement,
      ownership and investments. Regarding public procurement a 3 year action plan has
      been drawn up in order for the Government to become a more responsible customer
      taking account of environmental and social issues.

    Also through its investments policy the Government may influence companies through
      its ethical guidelines for the foreign investment part of the Norwegian Pension Fund.
      Active ownership is exercised. Some 30 companies have been excluded from the
      fund’s investment universe.

    CSR has a central role to play for private sector and as well as for the political
      authorities if positive opportunities are to be grasped and negative consequences
      avoided.

Another characteristic of the Norwegian approach to CSR is the Government’s positive
impression of Norwegian companies’ ability and willingness to contribute.

Thus, cooperation, information and motivation are strong components of the Norwegian CSR
policy.

In stressing human rights, decent work, environment and anti-corruption, the Norwegian
approach to CSR means that responsibility should manifest itself in the core activities of the
companies. It does not matter how much a company contributes to the community or to
charities in cash or kind, if not the core activities are conducted in a responsible way.

Norwegian companies have a tradition for a cooperative relation to trade unions, where both
the process of conflicts and areas of cooperation are regulated by binding agreements.
Norwegian companies have a well developed practice in the field of Health, Environment and
Safety, both reducing the negative impacts of enterprise, and improving the productivity and
profitability of companies. We strongly encourage Norwegian companies to share these
experiences, and to uphold their best practice in their international operations – as well as
learning from the best practice of others.
Finally, The White Paper clearly underlines Norway’s international approach to CSR. We
contribute to important international processes like the OECD guidelines for multinational
enterprises and promote the UN Global Compact and its 10 fundamental principles, ILO’s
decent work agenda, working with WTO and ILO, as well as the process led by UN Secretary
General’s Special Representative, Mr. John Ruggie on Business and Human Rights that led to
the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; Implementing the UN
“Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework . We are also an active partner in a unique
tripartite multi- stakeholder initiative for Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
for the oil, gas and mining companies.

 A short version of the White Paper on corporate social responsibility that includes the key
international guidelines is made available to you.


Today’s launch of the CSR 2012 report on Bangladesh will hopefully help to strengthen the
momentum of CSR among key actors in Bangladesh in taking practical steps to include CSR
in their policies and core activities – and to seize CSR as a source of opportunity, innovation
and competitive advantage. It will certainly be of use to the NCCI and for those who look to
Bangladesh as a business destination.

								
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