New UN study calls for global approach to corporate responsibility

New UN study calls for global approach to corporate responsibility

The concept of corporate social responsibility must be adopted in both developed and developing countries in order to help alleviate poverty, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said today.

Releasing a new study on the issue, UNIDO called for a global approach to tackling the role of businesses in fostering social value. "The task of the UN system [is] to turn corporate social responsibility from a Northern preoccupation into a truly global agenda," said the agency's Director-General, Carlos Magariños.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications for Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries, released in connection with the World Summit for Sustainable Development which opened today in Johannesburg, South Africa, cautions against applying standards that may undermine small businesses in poorer nations, such as protectionist mechanisms for retaining jobs, trade and investment in the developed countries.

While acknowledging the challenges ahead, the study points out that corporate responsibility represents more than just a change in the commercial environment, it also generates broader benefits by increasing opportunities for increased market access, savings and productivity.

Corporate social responsibility must be part of the core business strategy, not a philanthropic add-on which could easily fall prey to cuts, the study argues. "If any downturn is compounded by global insecurity as a result of increased conflict, the further development of corporate social responsibility will be seriously challenged."

The 75-page study analyses recent trends in corporate social responsibility from both regional and sectoral perspectives. It also assesses the impact of these initiatives on developing countries.