In a speech to the Chatham House conference ‘Corporate Responsibility in Practice’, Stephen Timms said:

“Business action across the world is vital to help address the global challenges of climate change and poverty eradication.

The UK is seen internationally as a pioneer of corporate social responsibility and I am committed to ensuring that we keep up our active contribution to the policy debate. This framework is pivotal if we are to be clear about the strategic direction we want and our priorities for future progress on CSR at the international level.

“The main priorities are to spread best practice, encourage innovation and ensure approaches that deliver practical outcomes and solutions. This includes encouraging all relevant international and inter-governmental institutions to be engaged and playing to their strengths and competencies.”

The UK Government would continue to support existing initiatives such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and UN Global Compact as well as a range of more targeted initiatives in areas like ethical trading.

The Government’s intention is to finalise the framework before summer 2004, following consultation with stakeholders.

The draft framework will shortly be available on the DTI web site – Comments should be sent to by 31 May.

The framework recognises concerns about the number of CSR initiatives and risks of duplication. It looks to encourage a balance between efforts to improve coherence between and streamlining of codes of conduct, and guidelines and other initiatives will be encouraged and ensuring continuing creativity and innovation.