Corporates are realizing nowadays that Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer defined as a branding and a PR tool for private sector. It is commitment from businesses to contribute to public good in order to enhance the synergies between the three pillars of sustainable development.
This definition was provided by corporates and organizations from the private, public and civil society sectors who participated in the Transition to Sustainability Debate: Mainstreaming Environment in Corporate Social Responsibility that was held on June 4th, 2009 on the occasion of the World Environment Day. This debate was organized by IUCN Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA), hosted by Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt and funded by the Christensen Fund.
"In the transition to sustainability we need to go beyond counting the problems and gloom and doom messages to foster the vision that gives us hope, encourages creativity and inspires us to change, and work on practical solutions in partnership with governments, private sector and the public," says Dr. Sally Jeanrenaud, IUCN Future of Sustainability Initiative Coordinator. In her presentation, Dr. Jeanrenaud talked about the Millennium Development Goals which she called the big transformational ideas of 21C. She said that Greening the World Economy initiative aims to create new and decent jobs, reduce carbon emissions, ecosystem degradation, and water scarcity and eliminate persistent poverty by 2025.
“We are experiencing a paradigm shift in business strategy where environmental sustainability is being part of branding organizations and setting a business case for a low carbon economy,” said Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi IUCN West Asia Regional Director. “Long term sustainability for organizations demands that organizations re-think their business strategy from solely focusing on making profit to corporate citizenship and sustainable development.” He added.
“We need transformative change to create a One Planet Economy,” said Mr. Jean- Paul Jeanrenaud, Director of Corporate Relations in WWF International. He delivered a presentation on the world challenges in terms of overexploitation of natural resources, levels of Carbon emissions, the growing water consumption and the global economic trends. He emphasized the importance of creating new rules and institutions that protect our climate and natural capital. “Doing less bad is not good enough. We need to lead companies that will help restore the planet,” he added.
The Chief of Sustainability in Aramex International, Mr. Raji Hattar, presented their environmental policy emphasizing that the environmental responsibility also has an economic feasibility. He said that transportation industry contributes to around 14% of the world’s pollution. “Aramex is considered the first carbon neutral logistics company, and this was achieved through working on reducing our carbon footprints by using alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, using degradable plastic, paper recycling and using technological systems to reduce paper usage,” said Hattar.
“Sustainability requires a balance between environmental protection, economic development, and social responsibility,” said Mr. Ramez Farag, External Relations Manager in Proctor & Gamble Egypt. He presented the company’s five sustainability strategies that work on enhancing their products, production, responsibility, employees and stakeholders.
Other organizations like Jordan River Foundation and Fair Trade Jordan have also presented their greening and environmental responsibility strategies to the participants. Nokia Siemens Networks, League of Arab States, Libyan Arab Airlines, Excellence Inc., Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company, Jordanian Balqa Governorate, Omani Ministry of Tourism, Excellence Inc., Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Jordan Society for Sustainable Development, Jordan’s Development Zones Commission, Consolidated Consultants for Engineering and Environment, Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation in Dubai have all participated in this debate.
This was the second sustainability debate that IUCN holds in Alexandria Library, the first debate was held in June 2008 entitled Future of Sustainability Debate in the Arab Region: Voices from the South, and was also hosted by the Library and funded by Ford Foundation.