Sustainability and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

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Sustainability and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) require holistic thinking, mental activity and a change in Paradigm. CSR shall be integrated continuously in any system such as an organization and institution. It is essential that the human (as stakeholder) shall be integrated in the system as well as around it by considering strongly moral and ethical values. Those values are fundamental for the development of sustainability principles (among others ethical standards and moral direction). The international Guidance Document ISO 26000 shall be used as criteria catalog as well as framework. Only humans can create Sustainability and not all those countless papers full with well-intended principles: Everybody is responsible to start “doing” instead to remain inactively. It is common that “One large meeting after the next is followed by inactivity” (Jeffry Sachs). The ISO 26000 as guideline will not advise minimum requirements, but formulates the main principles and key areas providing assistance for the implementation and communication of CSR. Additional to the guideline ISO 26000 the UN Global Compact as well the OECD demand cross-cultural ethical values and standards. To achieve sustainability the means of “Learning by Doing”, Agile Principles, Learning Organization and Learning Regions shall be applied; however, the impact of decisions and (global) activities shall be balanced between economic, social and ecological matters carefully, in particular reflecting the principle of humanity: “What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others”. This principle should be applied to the Universum including everything all around: animals, plants, ocean, – biodiversity.

Contrary to sustainability (the arrival), – which is a static condition -, “sustainable development” is a continuously dynamic undertaking (in the form of decisions and actions) to achieve the desirable sustainability. One of the steps to achieve the desired Sustainable Development is “Global Economic Ethic”. (Manifest Global Economic Ethic, Hans Küng, Klaus M. Leisinger, Josef Wieland, 2010).

There are many opportunities to end the scourge of war, poverty, hunger, decease, earth degradation, catastrophes, migration, unequal human rights, cultural and religious conflicts.  Besides failures in moral virtues, there are many problems in systems like institutions, organizations, and infrastructures. Instead of wasting money on wars and by shoddy practices (banks, corporations, politics), resources shall be provided to promote innovations to abolish those above stated negative facts. We need innovation to create sustainable products and services, sustainable consumption, environmental improvement, organizational processes and social behavior.

Business itself is a community of action, managers, linking employees, customers and suppliers; therefore, the business as moral actor shall contribute to the advancement of Sustainable Development global as well as local. The complexity of global production systems are stretching out across cultures, religious and political boundaries this means: laws are not enough and common values are vital. Politic is often too weak to fight against greed, fraud, corruption and self- aggrandizement, and so no legal provision can be implemented without any ethical standards.  But it is not just an issue of individual morality, but an issue of corporate morality and it concerns the global market economy as a whole. (Hans Küng, Global Economic Crises Requires a Global Ethic, The Manifesto Global Economic Ethic, page 167).

Sustainability and Sustainable Development, – as we perceive in Austria is unfortunately not guaranteed: inappropriate macro-economic politics; excessive speculation; inefficient functioning of the regulatory and supervisory system; an inadequate justice and education; lack of accountability and transparency; inadequate standards in financial reporting; casino capitalism and corruption; lack of truthfulness; trust and social responsibility; not enough money for development assistance; excessive greed of investors and institutions; falsified balance sheet and illegal manipulation of the markets; – all that we learn every day from the media.

The European Commission has been working since ten years with CSR (as a generic term of Sustainability) and adopted in 2011 a new framework and definition of CSR: the responsibility of organizations, institutions, businesses (and other systems) for their impacts on society. The EU Commission asked their members to develop their own National Action Plan for CSR. The purpose of these CSR NAP is to clarify which political framework is needed to promote the CSR Management Approach on a voluntary basis or required by laws and regulations. The Government, respectively the state should serve as a lighthouse respectively as model. The Austrian Federal Government has commissioned three Ministries to develop this National Action Plan for CSR. Unfortunately this CSR NAP so far has not been published and it is not clear how the Austrian Government wants to keep track to promote and guarantee CSR and Sustainability. So it is true that one large meeting after the next is followed by inactivity!

Roland Leithenmayr VfV 

 

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