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PERSPECTIVE: CSR at work

Corporate social responsibility is an on-going effort that has become part of normal business for the mineral sector. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that a mid-year update from Canada's Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor has...



Corporate social responsibility is an on-going effort that has become part of normal business for the mineral sector. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that a mid-year update from Canada’s Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor has been circulated.

The Office was established in 2009, and became active in March 2010 with the opening of its Toronto office. Marketa Evans is the first counsellor. The Office will review cases of project-affected people around the world, and assist Canadian mining, oil and gas companies to improve their CSR performance abroad. The Office has also launched a review process whereby affected communities can approach it and have their concerns addressed.

Over the past six months, the Office has been busy contacting individuals and networks to inform them about Canada’s CSR strategy using a number of personal and digital platforms. It filed its first report to Parliament in March 2011. The organization has participated in CSR events in Vancouver, Ottawa, Peru, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mexico as well as the PDAC in Toronto. The advisory panel held its first meeting in January 2011. Four public discussion seminars have been held in partnership with Ryerson Institute for the Study of CSR. The Office answered more than 60 requests for information and has begun work on its first review.

Visitors to the website www.International.gc.ca/CSR_Counsellor-Conseiller_RSE are invited to read the new Participant Guide and the revamped FAQs.

The Canadian government is to be praised for creating an agency that can directly assess cases of human and environmental rights arising within the mineral industry. This approach is preferable to a new law that hobbles our industry arbitrarily, such as Bill C-300 would have done.

Before Canadians assume that CSR is easily understood, they are reminded that the OECD ministers have recently adopted revised guidelines. Their original rules were the oldest and most comprehensive on what constitutes good business practice. They are the only ones that several governments have developed, approved and undertaken to promote. The guidelines are merely recommendations – they have no enforcement provisions and that may be their weakness. The revised rules aim to clarify actions arising from human rights, climate and supply chain management.

Explore the guidelines at the OECD website, http://www.OECD.org/department/0,2688,en_2649_34889_1_1_1_1_1,00.html.


Hot Topic: Does your organization have a CSR department or director?

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