On the first day, development of a strategy for CSR in Serbia and activities of the National Coordinating Body on CSR in Macedonia were presented as ways of how the state is involved in development of CSR. Practices of cooperation between the business and civil society sector were explored through corporate volunteering practices in Croatia and experience of several companies in Montenegro and Serbia. CSR business networks such as UN Global Compact, UNIDO Regional Network, and Business Leaders Forum Serbia were also presented and practices in specific areas of work such as human rights and environment protection from Slovenia and Macedonia were explored.
The main lessons-learned from the conference were that the civil society sector should have the lead in promoting and raising-awareness on CSR, rather than the state or the business sector. CSR as a concept, its understanding and practices needs to be explored further. Most common practices in CSR present in the region at the moment are those of foreign multi-national corporations, while SMEs, which form the back-bone of local economic development, are less involved in such activities (though one good practice in family-friendly enterprise from Slovenia was presented). The main interest of CSOs in this topic comes from the need to find alternative, local and sustainable ways to support their work. CSR is wider than corporate philanthropy, i.e. sponsorships and donations by business to CSO activities.
The second day featured a smaller meeting of interested organizations with the aim to identify ways for regional cooperation on CSR and to address issues and discussion from the conference debate. The ppt experience of BCSDN was presented as a best practice in developing a regional network of interested local actors. Present organizations, among them also BCSDN members working on CSR, discussed the mission, goals, membership and further steps for establishing a regional network on CSR. The next meeting will take place spring 2010. For more information on the conference and follow-up visit the CRNVO website.