I was not in Davos this year. Actually, I have never been to Davos. CSR Europe does not usually engage in these high-level and rather expensive events as we focus our means and efforts on practical action to equip the middle management with the tools they need to implement sustainable leadership within and outside the company.
CSR Europe: practical work with impact
We support the women and men whose daily work inside companies is to integrate sustainability within business operations, management, and in relations with stakeholders. We work alongside managers who have to fight for their budgets, who engage with stakeholders inside and outside the company, who sometimes have to convince their executives to move forward, and who understand very well the sometimes contradicting requirements of advancing corporate sustainability – be it on climate & emissions, biodiversity, sustainable supply chains, fair and transparent tax approaches, community engagement or diversity, equity and inclusion.
In 2023, as the COVID restrictions are falling away, we want to bring our members back together in networks of sharing and learning, where they can find the tools they need to advance on the sustainability agenda and provide them with opportunities to engage with European policymakers to scale up their impact.
Sustainability is about the people
Since 2021, we have made Just Transition the centrepiece of our work as companies struggled to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic and showed their vulnerability in addressing the social dimension of the sustainability agenda successfully. The war in Ukraine and its aftermath, with geopolitical changes and the spike in prices and cost-of-living are further forcing companies to rethink their business operations and putting people – employees, customers, and communities – first.
For this reason, Just Transition continues to be at the core of our 2023 activities. After delivering the first-ever European Business Roadmap for Just Transition last year, next month we will provide businesses with the European Business Toolbox for Just Transition. Tackling inequality globally is critical to companies’ license to operate. The Green Transition itself is one of the many sources of inequality as it will bring about changes to how we live, move, and work, leaving the most vulnerable behind. Just Transition, therefore, becomes crucial not only for social and environmental justice, but also to keep the EU attractive for investments in the long term and to maintain the viability of business in Europe.
The antidote to the warnings from Davos
The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Risks report presented at Davos 2023 has outlined a rather bleak picture:
Cost of living dominates global risks in the next two years while climate action failure dominates the next decade
Geopolitical fragmentation will drive geoeconomics warfare and heighten the risk of multi-domain conflicts. Furthermore, the erosion of social cohesion and societal polarisation will increase, while widespread cybercrime and cyber insecurity and Large-scale involuntary migration will put more pressure on our societies.
Technology will furtherexacerbate inequalities while risks from cybersecurity will remain a constant concern
These are only a few of the challenges outlined by the WEF, which concludes that as the volatility in multiple domains grows, poly-crises risk accelerating.
In our practice, however, we see much experience and intelligence inside our member companies that can support other businesses and society to deal with these challenges. The keywords to overcome them, however, are not compliance and individually-claimed sustainability leadership, but companies’ engagement, modesty, collaboration, and impact-oriented action.
Our 2023 Agenda: Engagement and Impact
Engagement and impact are the words that shape CSR Europe’s 2023 agenda of action and impact for Just Transition. In our People programme, we place a strong focus on workforce transformation; in the Materials programme, we tackle viable socio-economic advancement through supply chains; in the Markets programme, we support members in advancing sustainability reporting.
In 2023, CSR Europe will also focus on facilitating companies’ collaborative efforts. Drive Sustainability is now engaging 18 car- and truck-makers on a pathway to sustainable supply chains in the automotive sector. We are also kicking off two new collaborative platforms, one on tax transparency and another one on ethnic diversity & inclusion.
Towards a European Social Green Deal
As the European elections will take place in 2024, this year CSR Europe is preparing together with its members a strong message for the new European leaders: we need strong and practical multistakeholder engagement towards a European Social and Green deal. This is what sustainability leadership is about, and we expect the new European Commission to go beyond its regulatory role to assume a facilitating and collaborating one. To this end, we will run three different Leadership Hubs, bringing together frontrunning companies and National Partner Organisations, to outline common business expectations.
2023 is the year of action and engagement towards a Just Transition. Businesses have the unique opportunity to join us in this endeavour and contribute to actively shaping the results we so badly need.
For more information:
Contact Stefan Crets