What Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby organisations voluntarily adopt interests of the communities in which they operate. It is a commitment by businesses to contribute to sustainable economic development by working with employers, their families, the local community and society at large to improve lives in ways that are good for business and development. Priorities adopted by corporations are determined through ethical reasoning, rather than legal requirements and CSR initiatives might include social development, corporate governance and environmental protection.
Why it is important
CSR benefits people directly and immediately by improving the conditions in which they live and work. It also leads to indirect and long-term benefits as it can:
  • Improve employee recruitment, retention and motivation;
  • Enhance corporate reputation and brand image; and
  • Advance development.
Why corporations would spend time and resources on social goals
Good corporate citizenship can enhance a company's position and value. Many corporations consider CSR a marketable attribute, drawing attention to CSR in public relations and recruitment materials. It may also be considered a preventative measure, saving a company from public criticism and its negative effect on business.
Why CSR is a priority to APEC
Because it involves private sector dialogue and the voluntary adoption of standards, the nature of CSR is similar to that of APEC. It is a logical and synergistic relationship: As the region is home to many influential and international corporations, APEC can stimulate and support CSR activities. At the same time, the application of CSR principles can enhance the positive outcomes of trade and investment flows to all Asian-Pacific economies and this is the overarching objective of APEC.
Since the financial crisis in the 1990s, risk management has been an especially relevant topic within APEC. In 2005, Japan published a report on CSR in APEC. This report argued that if expectations and interests of stakeholders are understood and managed effectively within businesses, risks attached to negative stakeholder behavior could be more easily identified and addressed and would ultimately avert future crisis.
Across APEC member economies, CSR perspectives vary and, accordingly, so do styles of implementation. In general, however, it has been recognized that:
  • CSR can facilitate improved trade and investment environments.
  • Development of capacity to implement CSR is therefore critical.
APEC's agenda for CSR in 2008
SOM 1 CSR discussions will draw upon the expertise of the APEC Business Council (ABAC) and the actual experiences in member economies. Specifically, they will consider:
  • Best practices and practical lessons from the private sector
  • Incorporation of social and environmental factors to investment and risk assessment decisions in Foreign Direct Investment and other frameworks
  • The role of government, industry and civil society in strengthening resource governance
Outcomes will be presented at the Lima Summit.