The Global CSR Conference 2013: Seoul Declaration

From dangerous gaps in wealth and pervasive bribery and corruption, today we face multiple, critical global challenges that represent serious risks. No one country, company, or individual can redress these risks alone. Reducing and otherwise mitigating them requires collective action and partnerships among government, business, and the NGO community.
The Global CSR Conference 2013, held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, serves as a comprehensive platform to discuss ways in which businesses can contribute to addressing global challenges through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). With its theme “Corporate Challenges in Asia: Managing Risks while Building a Sustainable Future,” the conference has assembled the world’s foremost CSR experts and thinkers as well as government leaders.

A sustainable future requires more than simple philanthropy. It represents multiple social responsibilities that must be social, environmental, and ethical terms. Through collaboration with the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association (ECOA), ideals of corporate ethics and compliance have been synchronized with the universally accepted UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment, anti-corruption. This new paradigm allows for an enhanced and more-robust definition of CSR, which we seek to disseminate on a global scale to change corporate cultures around the world and ultimately achieve vital sustainable development goals.

We, the participants of the Global CSR Conference 2013, fully acknowledge the importance of embedding Environment, Society, and Governance (E.S.G) into core corporate value and business strategy, operations, and culture. In doing so, we call on active engagement from the private sector for the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, specifically including active support for eradicating extreme poverty, universal education, and ensuring environmental sustainability. Businesses and other stakeholders are encouraged to collaborate in order to make tangible strides in their respective fields of work. We welcome the Post-2015 Business Architecture, which elaborates methods to scale up collaborative opportunities.

Furthermore, we acknowledge the increased importance of extended collaboration between public and private entities. We stress the imperative role of government as community partnerships to spread the ideals of corporate sustainability globally.

In this regard, we, the participants, urgently call on your action. Our actions and inactions, decisions and omissions, have an impact on society. We must work together for the sake of future generations, and together, make a difference. Therefore, we recognize:

1. The continued and essential importance of collective action and partnerships and the necessity for cross-border and cross-industry cooperation in developing best practices in sustainability, corporate governance, and cultures of integrity within all organizations.

2. Ways in which the world is becoming perfectly transparent through the proliferation of social media, mobile technologies, and “big data.” Issues once held quietly now go viral in a nanosecond and lead to demands for change. All decisions are being held to a new standard – the light of day. We call for consensus on the responsible uses of big data, including ways to use it to promote ethical behaviours within organizations.

3. That capitalism is on the cusp of extraordinary transformation. A new standard is developing that challenges companies to embrace their responsibility to build cultures of integrity and to treat all stakeholders equally. Corporate culture directly influences business decisions as well as how a company understands sustainability and its accompanying responsibilities. Thus, a deeper understanding of corporate culture is necessary for the successful implementation of the UN Global Compact values and principles. In this regard, we recommend benchmarking surveys on ethical corporate culture.

4. Trust is a significant issue facing organizations everywhere. Many government and business leaders are held in disregard because their actions are viewed with cynicism and seen as self-interested. All government and business leaders must increase transparency and be seen as outward-facing, meeting stakeholder needs.

5. The private sector plays a central role in efforts to promote economic empowerment of women. Partnering with the UN Global Compact, we encourage women to take a leading role in advancing corporate sustainability and building stronger and more-inclusive economies. This meaningful gateway of experience and knowledge exchange will help leverage women’s economic opportunities and leadership. We call on businesses to embrace the Women’s Empowerment Principles to publicly demonstrate their efforts to advance gender equality in the workplace, marketplace, and community.

6. Since 2000, education has been one of the United Nations’ top priorities. In recognizing this, we affirm the importance of disseminating the UN Global Compact values and corporate sustainability to the world’s youth. The youth today are sensitive to issues regarding sustainability, malfeasance, and cronyism. We must be open to listening to their concerns. Platforms to exchange insights, such as the Principles for Responsible Management Education, UN Academic Impact and the Youth CSR Conference, will increase the extent to which their voices will greatly shape CSR now and in the future.

7. That one century ago the Earth was a self-sustaining ecosystem. Today, it is dying. The consequences of irresponsible behaviour may not be fully felt for several generations. We all must acknowledge our role in protecting the environment and build collective action to address the most-important issues. We call for the development of sustainable business practices and increased accountability, so businesses can become leaders in ensuring the Earth’s survival.

In closing, we, the participants of the Global CSR Conference 2013, believe that the world is moving towards a sustainable society with long-term vision and goals. We dedicate ourselves to action and reiterate our commitments to promoting cooperation, collective action, partnerships, and the sharing of best practices. It must begin today, with us.

The Board Director Training Institute (BDTI) is a "public interest" nonprofit in Japan dedicated to training about directorship, corporate governance, and related management techniques. It is certified by the Japanese government to conduct these activities as a regulated nonprofit. Read a summary about BDTI here, and see a menu of its services for both corporations and investors here.

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