European Conference on CSR, Competing for a sustainable future, 7-9 november, MECC, Maastricht

Source: Dutch Ministery for Economic Affairs, 28 October 2004

During its EU presidency, the Dutch Government will organise the European Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), entitled Competing for a Sustainable Future in Maastricht, the Netherlands, 7-9 November 2004. The conference is hosted by Minister for Foreign Trade Karien van Gennip (Ministry of Economic Affairs) and co-organised by the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.
The conference provides a wide range of plenary and break-out sessions in which participants of the business community, governments, civil society, academia and media in the EU member states will share their experiences and innovative ideas on issues such as transparency, chain responsibility, climate change, biodiversity and transition, core labour standards, CSR in developing countries, participation of SMEs and stakeholder dialogue.
The European Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility is another step in the process that started at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, when the European Union set itself a new strategic objective: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustaining economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
Since then companies, national governments, the EU, labour unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been developing knowledge and best practices of CSR as one of the major strategies to achieve the Lisbon objectives. The challenge of the three-day conference in Maastricht is to evaluate this process and to define, how CSR contributes towards the competitiveness of Europe in a more sustainable world.

The conference starts on November 7th with an opening statement by the minister of Foreign Trade, Karien van Gennep, followed by a number of other key-note addresses. Mr. Tim Sebastian (BBC) will moderate a high level forum discussion on people, planet, plrofit and volunteering.

Speakers/panellist are Mr Gunther Verheugen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry; Mr Mark Ware, Group Vice President of Communications and External Affairs for BP; Mr Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO); Mr Klaus Toepfer, Executive-Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Mr Peter Woicke, Executive Vice President, International Finance Corporation, World Bank (IFC); Mr Georg Kell, Executive Head of the United Nation’s Global Compact;; Mr Arvind Ganesan, Director of the Business and Human Rights Programme, Human Rights Watch; Mr Jaques H. Schraven, Vice-President of the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE), President of VNO-NCW; Mr Achim Steiner, Director General of IUCN – The World Conservation nion; Mr Tom de Swaan, Chief Financial Officer, ABN AMRO; Mr Simon Zadek, Chief Executive Accountability.

On November 8th the plenary focus is on business and environment, with key note speakers Pieter van Geel, State Secretary for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands; Ms Barbara Kux, Chief Procurement Officer and Member of the Group Management Committee, Philips; Mr Jeffrey Mc Neely, Chief Scientist IUCN, The World Conservation Union and Mr Klaus Toepfer, Executive-Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

On November 9th the focus will be on development and social aspects of CSR. Key note speakers will be Ms Agnes van Ardenne, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Mr Patrus Ananias, Minister for Social Development of Brasil; Ms Renate Hornung-Draus, Director German Employers Union (BVDA), (chair); Mr Hans Hofmeijer, Director Multinational Enterprises Programme, International Labour Organisation (ILO); Mr Walter Cerfeda, Director of Corporate Sustainability Management, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC); Mr Bernard Giraud, Executive Director CSR Europe, Director Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility, Groupe Danone and Mr Simon Wilson, Social Platform In the closing plenary Mr Viscount Etienne Davignon, CSR Europe, Prof. dr. Gilbert Lenssen, President of the European Academy of Business in Society and Mr Frank Welvaert, Director Corporate Social Responsibility for Europe, Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Noreena Hertz (University of Cambridge, tbc) and Ms. Marianne Barner (IKEA, tbc) will discuss the results of the conference and react on observations of the youth.

The conference will be closed by Mr Vladimir `pidla, European Commissioner Social Affairs and Karien van Gennip, Minister for Foreign Trade of the Netherlands.
Other highlights of the conference:
– Fair Trade Fashion Show
– Presentation of new guidelines for sustainable reporting and active shareholding
– Best practices of CSR in Eastern European countries
– Evaluation of international guidelines on human rights and corruption
– Instruments for consumer information and dialogue with companies
– European launch of the Africa Corporate Sustainability Forum and the Interamerican CSR Network.

The conference website