Spotlight on: Argentina

CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY IN ARGENTINA

When the Global Compact was launched in 2000, Argentina was in the middle of a political, economic and institutional crisis. CSR was seen mainly as philanthropic action, although understanding was beginning to shift towards a wider notion
of CSR encompassing “private social investment” and “community relations”. Some companies did have codes of conduct and compliance regimes in place, but were struggling with haphazard implementation. Labour rights were weak. Awareness of HSE issues was triggered by severe floods in Santa Fe and the death of 194 people after a fire in Cromañon nightclub in 2004.


THE LAUNCH OF THE NETWORK

On 24 April 2004, 220 organisations established the Global Compact Network Argentina. Since 2005, a board of 20 members representing companies, business associations, NGOs, academic institutions and others stakeholders have led the Network. The Board is renewed every two years through a democratic process that elects an Executive Secretariat.


KEY HIGHLIGHTS

The Global Compact Network Argentina has engaged in a
variety of activities since its launch. Highlights include:

  • Through university lectures, conferences and open meetings, the Local Network promoted and spread CSR good practices, creating greater awareness about the ten principles and methodologies for the implementation of the Global Compact principles.
  • A Diploma of Advanced Studies in CSR was established in 2013 and several CSR e-learning courses were conducted.
  • Strengthening public-private collaboration through the identification and implementation of activities with new actors. An example of this is the institutional support provided to the “Practical Workshop: Building CSR programs for SMEs” alongside the Union of Industrialists for Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Sanitation and Reconquista (UISCUMARR).


THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL NETWORK IN CATALYSING CHANGE

The Local Network has provided a common framework for companies, allowing them to express their organisation’s social and environmental commitment, values and practices whilst integrating them into business logic. It serves as a tool to engage management, and embed values and principles at the top of an organisation. For organisations that had already developed a significant degree of maturity in sustainability, the Local Network has represented a means to work with an
international corporate sustainability forum but with local applicability and benchmarking. Corporate sustainability is now seen not only in terms of reputation - as it was before the 2001 crisis - but as a mechanism to access new markets and create business opportunities.


CASE: LAUNCHING THE GUIDE BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ‘PROTECT, RESPECT AND REMEDY’: WE ALL WIN IN THE CITY OF BUENOS AIRES AND CÓRDOBA.

In 2012, the Global Compact Network Argentina and UNDP Argentina developed a guide to support Argentinian companies to internalise the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework. This guide is designed to enable businesses to operate
effectively in the context set by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Network partnered with the Social Responsibility Secretary from the National Ministry of Social Development to launch the Guide. In addition to a launch event in Buenos Aires, the Guide was presented in front of 150 representatives from business, academia and civil society in the city of Cordoba, sponsored by the provincial government and Telemercado, a local communications company. The presentation was closed by the Minister of Finance Ángel Elettore and the Minister of Industry Jorge Lawson, who emphasized the role of the state in the diffusion of corporate sustainability practices. The event received comprehensive coverage from several television media and the local press.

KEY FACTS AND FIGURES

Network launch: 2004

Number of business participants: 402

Number of non-business participants: 137

Total number Global Compact
signatories: 300

Hosting organisation: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Key focus area: Human rights and anti-corruption

Notable fact: One of the top 10 performers according to other Local Networks