18 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - UNITAR initiated the “Cities – Private Sector Dialogue Series on Social Responsibility” at the Corporate Sustainability Forum in the context of the Rio+20 Conference. Organized with the support from Veolia Environment, the event presented the experience and views from local governments and private foundations on how social responsibility provides an opportunity for strengthening cooperation and partnerships conducive to social and economic development. The event highlighted cities’ growing interest to initiate and engage further into dialogue with the private sector of all sizes in view of elaborating frameworks that would provide enabling environments for social responsibility.
The objectives of the event were:
- to highlight innovative approaches and partnerships between cities and the private sector;
- to address possible capacity gaps that would further lead to define a programme to support such dialogues and action agendas at city level; and
- to present orientations that UNITAR, together with its partners and its network of affiliated training centres, will endeavour to implement.
Prominent panelist included:
Ludo Van Campenhout, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp, Belgium, in charge of diamond, sports and urban development explained the concept of “Duty to Enable”
“As the private sector is encouraged to demonstrate its compliance to ethical and social responsibility principals, and is requested to show its contribution to sustainable development, cities, as local public institutions and first interface with the private sector, have a role to play at 2 levels: First encourage and monitor private sector compliance to those principles and its contribution to local socio-economic development; and second: provide an enabling environment that would support public-private partnerships. We call this the cities Duty to Enable…"
Ambassador Daniel Dargent (Belgium) in charge of following the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and representative of the Belgium Government in the Global Compact Network Belgium
“As one of the major world center for rough diamond trading, Antwerp plays a key role in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which is about fighting against conflict diamond. The dialogue on social responsibility between the city and the diamond industry aims to bring a positively contribution to the Kimberley Process and to promoting corporate social responsibility."
Ivan Santanna, Leader of Social Partnerships Area at the Odebrecht Foundation, Brazil
"Educational and vocational training programmes targeting youth aim at developing business opportunities for rural communities. It allows people to develop economic activities by establishing sustainable local supply chains. Ongoing projects promote the simultaneous development of four types of capital: Productive (Work position and equitable income distribution), Human (Quality field education), Social (Building of a more just and caring society) and Environmental (Conservation of natural resources)."
Professor Kamil Okyay Sindir, Mayor of Bornova, Turkey
“We need to learn how to develop strong and constructive relationship with industries on our territories to create partnerships conducive to social development, and to design and implement high impact projects."
May East, Executive Director of CIFAL Scotland, a UNITAR affiliated training center for Northern Europe
“Transition Towns is a movement that engages citizens, institutions and business to address increasingly uncertain times, contracting energy supplies, price volatility, economic uncertainty, and so on… Transition Towns are finding ways for cities to minimise their systemic dependence on fossil fuels and their inefficient, unsustainable use of resources, thus generating a myriad of opportunities which encourage new kinds of cleaner and sustainable businesses, industries and jobs; opportunities to make better and more intelligent use of scarce natural resources; and an opportunity to redesign and regenerate out cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods."
Cezar Busatto, Secretary for Policy Coordination and Local Governance (SMGL), the main articulator of political administration in Porto Alegre, Brazil
“The relocation of people from slums to areas with access to basic services required going through an acceptation process that created ownership. At the same time it was important to work with populations living in those destination areas to also prepare the integration. This was only possible through a participatory process and the involvement of communities from the onset of the process."
Beyond the event itself, the session allowed the opportunity to identify resource persons and experts for further UNITAR activities and events. Speakers were very much interested to explore ways to make this initial dialogue a continuous exchange of views and practices.