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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation (2000 - 2009)

Conference News: Corporate Social Responsibility and Development: Towards a New Agenda?

In November 2003, UNRISD held a two day conference in Geneva entitled “Corporate Social Responsibility: Towards a New Agenda?” The subsequent edition of Conference News, which summarizes the issues raised by speakers and presents the main findings and policy implications, is now available to download.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important developmental and governance issue in recent years. However, concerns have arisen regarding the current CSR agenda, particularly its institutional limitations and impacts in developing countries.

It is within this context that the conference took place. Its four main objectives were:
  1. To present findings from UNRISD and other research on the developmental implications of CSR policies and practices;
  2. To engage UN agencies and other actors in critical reflection and debate on the developmental challenges confronting the current CSR agenda and public-private partnerships;
  3. To consider new approaches and proposals related to corporate regulation and accountability;
  4. To examine the role of the UN in global governance arrangements involving corporate regulation and CSR.

Two hundred participants and over 20 speakers from a range of United Nations, NGO and academic institutions contributed to the conference in three thematic sessions: ‘CSR and Development’; ‘New Relations with TNCs’ (which included consideration of multi-stakeholder and UN-business partnerships), and ‘Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility? Alternative Approaches and Proposals.’ The Conference News is thematically organized, enabling the reader to trace the main arguments by area of interest instead of providing a chronological account of events.

The discussions on a possible new agenda highlighted the need to articulate voluntary and legalistic approaches; to address issues of corporate power, taxation and lobbying; and to develop synergies between local, national and international institutions. They also called for greater sensitivity to the priorities and realities of developing countries, and a better understanding of the politics of CSR.

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  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 23 Jul 2004
    ISSN: 1020-8054
    From: UNRISD