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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1980

Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction, CSR to the fore

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 09 September, (Asiantribune.com): A MoU was signed between the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), and Oxfam GB, with the aim to enhance the positive impact of CSR on poverty.

The initiative explores as to how to incorporate Corporate Social Responsibility more strategically into Sri Lanka’s private sector. It will undertake a mapping of the current scale, scope and effectiveness of CSR, and will provide practical guidance for the private sector on how to embed CSR into core business practices.

The stakeholders in the government, private sector and civil society will be involved in developing a shared definition of CSR, and draw on strategies to galvanise a more strategic uptake of CSR as a poverty reduction tool, at business and policy levels.

A key focus will be on building the capacity of FCCISL as a national resource so it would be able to provide the private sector with advice and support on developing and implementing coherent strategies to help lift people out of poverty.

CSR does not have a standard definition in Sri Lanka, or even a fully recognised set of specific criteria, but is an evolving term with a range of usages and meanings, depending on the context, interpretation and commitment of the company involved.

However, CSR can contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction in two ways: in core business operations (through fair hiring practices, anti corruption measures and ethical supply chains); and their social investment activities (by addressing the root causes of poverty).

The opening of Sri Lanka to foreign investment and increased domestic private investment have transformed Sri Lanka’s private sector into the country’s largest employer and most important source of revenue. The private sector accounts for over 85% of GDP. The way the private sector acts and performs, therefore has an increasing impact on those living in poverty: as producers, consumers in markets, and through employment.

Meanwhile corporate approaches to poverty are changing. Whilst some remain grounded in traditional philanthropic financial giving and PR based initiative others are beginning to embrace the interests of all stakeholders – those affected by a company’s conduct – and their social and environmental concerns into company’s core business policies and operations, in other words to be ‘socially responsible’.

- Asian Tribune -

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