CSR: a tool for sustainable development in the Middle East [report]

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The need for sustainable development in the Arab world is twofold: to increase job opportunities and to protect natural resources.

With 25% of the region’s youth, ages 15-24, currently unemployed, there is a huge and growing employment gap that needs to be filled. On top of job creation, the Arab states have over 60% of the world’s oil reserves, but only 0.5% of renewable fresh water resources. Add to this waste management issues and high levels of pollution in urban areas and it’s obvious that the region requires action by its most powerful stakeholders.

This report, published by Strategy&, identifies ways for corporations in the Arab world to create effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies to begin to address these problems. The report offers CSR best practices, examples of successful CSR programs, and ways in which the private sector can partner with governments, academia and civil society to make their efforts more sustainable and effective.

Check out the full report by downloading it from the grey box on the right.

Executive Summary

Sustainable economic development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will depend on job creation, education, poverty alleviation, and careful environmental management. Government, civil society organizations, and academic institutions should all be involved in this effort. Companies have a particularly important role to play. They must be involved and contribute to the betterment of the societies in which they operate. They can do this through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that align with national development objectives in areas as diverse as affordable housing, educating women, and conserving water.

Although CSR is a complex undertaking, made the more challenging by the fact that it is a relatively new concept for the region, such projects are entirely within the capabilities of MENA region companies. To illustrate what companies are doing and how CSR can meaningfully contribute to regional development, Strategy& has conducted extensive interviews and drawn on its work with CSR leaders in the Middle East.

This research seeks to define what CSR means in the MENA region; study how CSR is practiced; identify best practices among CSR leaders, such as leveraging the strength of institutions and improving corporate governance; and propose how to build the corporate capacity for sustainable CSR practices with the help of governments, civil society organizations, and academia.

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