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United Nations' Views on CSR

United Nations Volunteerism

Large and multinational enterprises are in a unique position to address many of the world's challenges. Their global reach and access to a variety of resources make them an important partner in an evolving global landscape. The United Nations (UN) has recognized this trend and has taken a variety of steps to inform large enterprises of their potential impact on the global community. Recently, a 2011 UN study on the State of the World's Volunteerism shed some light on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the private sector. The study concluded that corporate volunteering and ethical governance have the power to improve social cohesion and address many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Understanding the significant impact of the private sector on communities around the globe the United Nations established the UN Global Compact, a forum designed to align the values of several of the world's largest companies. Accounts of activities within this forum highlight the significant role CSR can play in the contemporary global economy. The United Nations has recognized a number of goals it would like to achieve by the end of this century. It has also recognized some important partners in ensuring these goals are accomplished.

As previously mentioned, The United Nations Global Compact is the hallmark of the UN's policy on CSR. It is a partnership that commits companies to pursue policies of ethical governance by agreeing to certain principles. All members are required to report their positions on a variety of topics from human rights and labor practices to environmental sustainability and corruption. The Compact has allowed companies to introspectively consider the impact of their policies throughout their supply chains. Recently, it has also begun to encourage companies to pursue some MDGs, and companies have already begun to undertake these initiatives. Their work is an affirmation of the power of skills-based volunteering and a sign of the growing importance of the Compact.

One of the companies currently helping the UN with MDG 7 (Environmental Sustainability) and featured prominently in the aforementioned study is SUEZ, the French-based industrial utilities provider. It has established a corporate volunteering program that takes advantage of its employee engineering expertise. The company has formed two groups; Aquassistance and Energy Assistance. Aquassistance volunteers have carried out waste management assessments around the globe in countries like Albania, Niger, Senegal and Guinea Bissaul. Energy Assistance volunteers have assessed power distribution in Honduras, conducted an analysis of pollution in the Galapagos Islands, and performed a review of an electrical plant in East Timor. The work of SUEZ employees is ensuring that all areas of the globe are subject to the rigorous environmental analyses they deserve. They continue to provide areas with a standard for environmental sustainability.

The SUEZ partnership and others like it are exemplary of an increasingly important trend in CSR: International volunteer initiatives. Multinational companies are attempting to help a broad range of communities and earn an international reputation for corporate responsibility.