The first Round Table meeting of the EU Multi Stakeholder Forum on CSR (CSR EMS Forum) on 12 February built on the Commission’s work programme proposal for the Forum, adopted at the second high-level meeting on 19 December 2002 (see also EurActiv 13 January 2003).
The CSR EMS Forum was officially launched on 16 October 2002 (see also EurActiv 17 October and 6 November 2002) to “promote innovation, transparency and convergence of CSR practices and instruments”. The following issues were identified as Round Table topics for the CSR Forum:
Improving knowledge about CSR and facilitating the exchange of experience and good practice
Fostering CSR among SMEs
Diversity, convergence and transparency of CSR practices and tools
CSR Development aspects
Each of the four Round Tables will meet at least three times throughout the mandate of the CSR EMS Forum. After each wave of Round Tables, a high-level meeting will be scheduled to review progress and seek to improve the process.
General presentations on CSR opened the first Round Table meeting that provided an overview of the status of CSR in Europe and around the world. The next agenda point was a series of presentations of experience with corporate-stakeholder partnerships gathered through working together with the objective of developing the best CSR strategy. In this context, Danone acquainted the participants with its cooperation with the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations; Insight Investment described its work with Amnesty International; and Norsk Hydro talked about its collaboration with Transparency International Norway.
As the last agenda point, the participants drew as conclusion the need for further education on CSR to raise the level of common understanding of this concept. In particular, CSR principles should penetrate into companies; the management at every level should act in the spirit of good CSR practice. The participants also agreed that governments should do more to help empowerment.
The first round table meeting was generally felt to be a constructive and successful one. Nevertheless, some participants agreed that while the round tables in the first wave will stick to a similar structure, ie. joint presentations followed by discussions, the second wave of round tables could be a bit more dynamic, perhaps organised into workshops.
* The next Round Table meeting on 24 February will deal with the issue of “Fostering CSR among SMEs”.
* The next high-level meeting is scheduled for 20 May.
* The Forum is to present a report about its conclusions by summer 2004.