Corporates urged to take CSR seriously

Government, corporate, and civil society thought leaders discuss best practices in CSR

Dubai: The culture of and readiness to adopt Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is growing in the region but corporates and multi-national corporations need to step up their game and include sustainable development and innovation at the core of their operations, a CSR advocate said on Tuesday.

Government, corporate, and civil society thought leaders from the Gulf, Europe, Africa, Asia and Canada on Tuesday gathered for the eighth Arabia CSR Forum to discuss industry best practices and the impact of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on innovation and investment.

The 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They also include climate action, economic inequality and innovation, among others.

Engineer Shaikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation, Ras Al Khaimah and Chairman of RAK International Airport, Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Dr Rashid Al Leem, Chairman of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa), Dr Iyad Abumoghli, Principal Policy Advisor, UN Environment, attended the forum along with other top officials.

Habiba Al Marashi, President and CEO of Arabia CSR network, said: “We are witnessing a sea change in the culture, mindset and readiness to adopt CSR, and not as a way of looking good. CSR today is more than skin-deep; indeed it has gone into the bloodstream of business and governments alike.”

Among the many entities that incorporate sustainable values of tomorrow and turn them into concrete actions is Dewa, Al Marashi said.

In his speech, Al Tayer said CSR is an integral part of Dewa’s strategic plan.

“We have institutionalised an integrated system for social work that includes plans, initiatives, implementation and evaluation, based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to ensure the sustainability of its results. Dewa allocates eight per cent of its sales revenue to CSR initiatives, and works with various public and private organisations to implement these initiatives,” Al Tayer said.

“Dewa’s CSR efforts over the last few years have contributed to an increase in society’s happiness from 82 per cent in 2013 to 92 per cent in 2017,” he added.

Al Marashi said allocating eight per cent of Dewa’s revenues to CSR is a good lead to follow especially since the UAE last year issued a CSR law that aims to develop a supportive and stimulating environment for companies to invest in social responsibility.

“It’s a very excellent number. Usually people put two to three per cent, maximum four per cent, so to have eight per cent on an annual basis is an excellent thing,” Al Marashi said.

“This action sends a very strong message to all — not to government entities only but also to the private sector — that they need to step up and be in action. We want to see actual numbers from private sector and multi-nationals that are functioning in the Arab world to really take [social] responsibility seriously.”

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