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Engaging the Private Sector in the Reform of the Social Sector in Romania ®

Project Objectives:

(I)To develop a comprehensive programme of action for the private sector involvement in the social reform in Romania
(II) To disseminate information on this programme of action in order to raise awareness and to strengthen public-private partnerships in view of a socially responsible restructuring and reform of the social sector

The Ithaka Foundation and its partners will form a core body - the Observatory for Corporate Social Responsibility - OCSR - that will promote socially responsible corporate behaviour through workshops, publications and setting up an industry advisory council of stakeholders commited to the concept.

Project Benefits for the Private Sector:

(I) Contribute actively to the participating companies' strategy for socially sustainable development
(II) International investors need to articulate their strategies with those of the countries of South East Europe and vice versa

Background:

Social responsibility is a contributing factor to lasting political and social stability as well as economic development in the SEE countries.

High unemployment, low living standards, and poor social infrastructure are common in many of South East European countries, thus contributing to social and political instability. Through meetings of the Stability Pact for the South East Europe and building on existing activities by governments and international organisations in the social field, The Ithaka Foundation (with partner organisations in Sofia, Athens and Paris) an official partner of the Stability Pact's " Initiative for Social Cohesion"-ISC, aims to better incorporate the social dimension in the economic development and reconstruction efforts throughout the region, in accordance with the principle of financial sustainability. It also attempts to harness different approaches by countries and international organisations to address these social issues within an overall regional approach. In addition to furthering regional co-operation we also aim to build on best European practices, thus facilitating Romania's integration into the European Union and transatlantic structures.

Given Romania's political climate, economic and social state of affairs (in the process of integrating the EU), a reflection about social corporate governance, transparency in respect to the social indicators and anti-corruption policies as well as the consequences of good social corporate behaviour on performance has arisen on the agenda.

One of the key factors in ensuring the success of these initiatives is to secure the participation and contribution of the private sector in activities related to social reform in order to develop a socially responsible investment climate

"The way we invest our money creates the world in which we live"

This observation by Amy Domini, one of the pioneers of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), explicitly states the principle on which the movement is founded: As shareholders by definition have the power to shape the world in which we live, they also have the duty to take into account the social and environmental consequences of their decisions of investment.

As business has entered into a new phase, business and sustainable development (BSD)is regarded as:

· A global competitive advantage
· A catalyst for innovation
· A way to capture new market and financing opportunities

Consumers demand that goods and services be produced by socially and environmentally responsible companies. Bankers and investors evaluate companies and make decisions, considering both environmental risks, social responsibility, and environmental market opportunities. Consequently, more companies are discovering the benefits of going beyond regulatory compliance, toward sustainability. Social responsibility is one of the main pillars for BSD.

Ethical practice is another pillar and it consists in applying ethical beliefs to investment. In most cases, it goes hand-in-hand with the use of anti-corruption practices, transparent management, respect for the laws of fair competition, no abuse of monopoly power, etc. These pillars make up for the ability to contribute to the socio-economic development of Romania, in line with the current demands of a global market economy.

 

The Observatory for Corporate Social Responsability – the OCSR

The Ithaka Foundation will intensify its advocacy of social responsibility by organising events and research that will enhance and promote existing best practice by companies and promote pilot initiatives undertaken by individuals. It will use the considerable experience gained in Western European countries, by institutions with similar scopes, while adapting their practice to the Romanian reality. In addition, we aim to develop a Think Tank of social experts who are invited to come up with new ideas and strategies for advocacy and policy proposals.

 

Our mission:

The OCSR will:

· Collect, process and promote information, documents and studies relevant to corporate social responsibility and to socially responsible investment in Romania.

· Promote the above information, prior to distribution to its members.

· Identify the -best practices- that exist and operate on the market;

· Select and animate a network of stakeholders involved in the field of corporate social responsibility: i.e. companies, trade unions, academia, the labour ministry; related associations, members of Parliament, the EU delegation and other international organizations dedicated to the concept;

· Offer to its stakeholders the necessary tools to integrate the EU networks by facilitating partnerships between Romanian stakeholders and networks in France, Greece and other EU countries.

Project by: Ramona Calin in cooperation with the Initiative for Social Cohesion - ISC - of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe

 
 
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