Enterprise manifesto

agendaNi takes a look at CSR Europe’s Enterprise 2020 Manifesto.

In response to the urgent need to address unemployment, climate change and demographic changes in Europe, the corporate social responsibility movement, CSR Europe, has developed the Enterprise 2020 Manifesto. 

The manifesto is CSR Europe’s response to the challenges set by the European Commission in the Europe 2020 strategy which calls for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The progress of European businesses towards achieving the manifesto’s priorities will be tracked over the coming years via CSR Europe’s interactive online Business Impact Maps which highlight hundreds of initiatives across Europe.

The manifesto claims there is a pressing need for transformative and innovative societal and economic changes in Europe in the years ahead. In response to this it calls for better use of big data, the internet of things, new mobility concepts, smart manufacturing and circular thinking to create additional employment, business growth and shared value.

This however, will not be done easily and CSR Europe is calling for all companies, governments, civil society, investors and other stakeholders to step up their individual and collective efforts claiming that only practical collaboration will accelerate the pace of change.  

The manifesto also places a lot of onus on individual businesses. It claims that as a driving force behind economic growth, businesses are uniquely positioned to help establish a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable society. Many business champions have already adopted circular business models leading to new opportunities and market leadership. However, a transformative change in Europe requires all companies to further integrate environmental, societal, ethical and good governance approaches into their strategies to help create shared value.

Over the past 20 years CSR Europe and its national partner organisations have supported more than 10,000 member companies in integrating sustainability into their strategies and processes. This practical approach, the manifesto claims, will only be further reinforced over the coming years and geared towards more impactful efforts. 

Action plan

In order to achieve a European and global, transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable society, CSR Europe will inspire, challenge, support and engage its members to be at the forefront of change. To do this it has set out three strategic priorities during the five years leading up to 2020. They are:

•   to make employability and inclusion a priority across boards, management and value chains;

•   stimulate companies to engage as committed partners with communities, cities and regions to develop and implement new sustainable production methods, consumption and livelihoods;

•   put transparency and respect for human rights at the heart of business conduct. 

Employability and inclusion

To make employability and inclusion a priority, the manifesto will aim to increase public-private partnerships on work and education, workplace innovation and entrepreneurship support in addition to enhancing employability and entrepreneurship through formal and non-formal learning of hard and soft skills. 

Sustainable production methods

To achieve this goal, CSR Europe wants to see innovation of products, services and business models and the development of a systemic engagement between businesses, local governments and community stakeholders. A more circular approach will, the manifesto claims, limit the use of resources and environmental impacts while also creating jobs and strengthening the economy. 

Respect for human rights

The Enterprise 2020 Manifesto claims that it will work to achieve greater transparency and respect for human rights by pushing for superior reporting, stakeholder engagement and integrated thinking in boards, improved management systems and integrated management of the value chain. 

The manifesto calls on all business to contribute to the movement and be the agents of change by:

•   embracing transparency and respect of human rights as standard company practice;

•   accelerating the adoption of new technologies and competencies to foster inclusive and sustainable business models and to engage all their affiliates on the agenda of the countries and regions in which they operate;

•   striving for the smallest possible ecological footprint, optimal employability and the largest possible societal benefits with a mid- and long-term business perspective;

•   leading and engaging in collaborative platforms with all stakeholders in support of societal and economic changes. 

It also calls on European, national and sub-national governments to support these ambitions with smart policies and measures to empower forward looking companies who are prepared to take their own responsibility in this area. The three policy actions that the manifesto considers to be the most important in this area are:

•   embedding structural collaborations between business and formal/non-formal education through a set of ambitious targets and KPI’s;

•   fostering innovation and competitiveness to make Europe the world hub of sustainable communities by means of: supporting the development and impact of collaborative platforms, leading by example through integration of environmental, social and governance considerations in policy development, developing incentives to encourage the implementation of circular business models;

•   creating a policy framework that favours mid and long-term approaches over short-term actions to govern labour, industrial and financial markets, such as support for effective approaches, fiscal policies that support sustainable growth, and industrial policies that stimulate the transformation to a circular economy. 

Speaking following the launch of the manifesto, CSR Europe’s Senior Advisor for External Relations, Jan Noterdaeme identified three elements of the strategy that will help the future genetic modification of enterprises.  

“Schools and businesses need to prepare young generations with and for the skills, jobs and citizenship that we need,” said Noterdaeme. “We have to shift towards circular consumption and production and companies need to operate in a more transparent and open way to create trust in society.” 

The President of CSR Europe and former Vice President of the European Commission, Viscount Etienne Davignon welcomed the initiative claiming it is exactly what Europe needs. “In over 50 years in government and business, this is one of the most ambitious initiatives to address the future of Europe through practical business-led solutions that I have witnessed,” she said.

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