Dubai takes lead in CSR, sustainability

DUBAI — The Dubai Centre for Corporate Values (DCCV) yesterday released its first annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability report — the first of its kind in the Arab world.

By Lucia Dore (Assistant Editor, Business)

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Published: Thu 5 Jul 2007, 8:58 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:14 PM

Its publication is aimed at encouraging all companies operating in the region to embrace CSR principles and adhere to the guidelines the report sets down for assessing the impact of a company's activities on economic, environmental and social performance, while taking into account factors unique to each organisation.

The CSR report reviews the activities of the three companies behind the establishment of the DCCV in June 2006 — Tecom Investments, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) — and the impact of these activities on the three core areas outlined above.

The data presented in the report is collected through focus groups and surveys conducted by the three entities. Its structure is based on the guidelines set down by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a large multi-stakeholder network of thousands of international experts, and is customised to local needs. The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence conducted an independent assessment of the report to ensure the quality and consistency of the report's structure and data.

The report will be published annually and all companies are encouraged to participate and, eventually, to publish their own reports, said Ahmad bin Byat, secretary general of the executive council of the Dubai Government on the report's release. He also said: 'Dubai had led the way in many areas and has become a globally competitive city. The report reflects the commitment and transparency of local organisations to position Dubai as a city known for sustainability and CSR.'

He later added that CSR is the responsible way for corporates to interact with the wider world, and is particularly relevant in a city like Dubai which is 'very corporate and is becoming more corporatised'. The aim of the report, he said, is not to 'name and shame' but to set down a benchmark that other companies can follow.

The executive director of the DCCV, Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali, also noted that although the notion of a formalised CSR strategy may be new to the region the core principle of giving back to the community is embedded in the Islamic culture. In this respect 'I do not think we are so far behind other parts of the world', he said, and emphasised that communication and transparency are key to achieving a successful CSR strategy. He added: 'We would like to invite more companies to participate in CSR in a proper way. It should not be a PR exercise. It is a matter of stakeholder management.'

In compiling this year's report the DCCV was confronted by two main challenges, said Al-Ali: a lack of data within organisations and the lack of frameworks to meet the requirements of the GRI guidelines. He also noted: 'No company meets all the GRI criteria.'

For subsequent reports the DCCV is creating a CSR framework that encapsulates the GRI guidelines and is specific to the region. It is also setting up tracking systems 'to measure data in all areas required for inclusion in the report', said Al-Ali and added: 'The model for CSR will be announced shortly.'

Bin Byat and Al Ali also noted that the publication of the report indicates how important CSR has become to a company's success. It is also a recognition that a company needs to consider the impact of its decisions and policies on all stakeholders — management, employees, customers and suppliers as well as the wider public.

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