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Dubai Chamber sustainability network task groups share achievements

Six months following the launch of the Sustainability Network Task Groups, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Centre for Responsible Business, organised a seminar to share with the business community the progress made by the various task groups and to share the groups’ promised deliverables and achievements at the Chamber premises on Thursday.

At a launch in April, the Sustainability Network presented five task groups, now numbering 33 members, to deliver initiatives and resources for the business community on Workplace Wellness, Community Investment, Employee Volunteering, Waste Management & Resource Efficiency, and Integrating CSR into Strategy.

The Sustainability Network Communication on Progress Seminar was presided over by H.E. Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber, and was attended by CEO’s and senior management of the Sustainability Network members, representatives of potential companies looking to join the network as well as the local media.

Expressing his happiness with the progress of the task groups, H.E. Hamad Buamim said, “I am delighted to state that to-date we are counting 33 members from both renowned local and international companies and are expecting more companies to join this year.

“The Sustainability Network members are motivated by a shared vision to influence and lead CSR, sustainability and governance in the UAE, the region, and internationally. All members are involved in an on-going process that involves creation of tools and sharing of expertise and they also look at addressing sustainability challenges through collaborative action which will help them promote the concept of sustainability in the emirate,” added Buamim.

Buamim lauded the contribution of the task groups to the publications and guides which he said will provide businesses insight into how to strategically implement specific CSR and Sustainability practices in their business.

“Sharing responsible business practice is a vital step in ensuring we all move towards creating a sustainable future. As pioneers it is important that we act collectively to ensure the UAE retains its position as regional leader in CSR and sustainability, and that it becomes an integral part of every company operating in the region and beyond,” he said.

He acknowledged the important role played by the Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business in raising awareness and supporting the development and implementation of corporate social responsibility and sustainability practices amongst businesses in the UAE while also providing the network members a connecting platform to share best practice and experiences.

The speakers at the progress seminar including Mr. Essa Al Ghurair, Vice-Chairman, Al Ghurair, Mr. Osman Sultan, CEO, du, and Mr. Sandeep Saihgal, Managing Director for Middle East and Africa, Research in Motion (RIM), led the discussion on the progress of the task groups and shared experiences and best practices with other participants.

In his presentation Mr. Essa Al Ghurair, Vice-Chairman, Al Ghurair, highlighted two upcoming projects of the group one of which is recycling of ablution water for flush use in the Al Ghurair mosque coming up by the year end and the second being the solar cooling project which will help the company reduce its carbon foot print in the future.

On his part, Mr. Osman Sultan, CEO, du, stated that since the launch of the company seven years ago, du has been working hard to bring constant change on all fronts of its operations, especially in providing valuable services to consumers and stakeholders. He said the company’s efforts bore fruit as it topped the Standard & Poor’s Hawkamah, the Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Index 2011 for its sustained efforts in bringing change to Corporate Governance.

Mr. Sandeep Saihgal, Managing Director for Middle East and Africa, Research in Motion (Blackberry) shed light on his company’s responsible business initiatives including employee volunteering programs aimed at encouraging staff to participate in various social activities as well as the development of the Blackberry Academic Program (BAP) which supports global education by preparing students for the wireless world.

The progress seminar also saw the launch of learning resources developed by the various task groups. This includes the CRB developed Case Study Book that features 20 case studies from local and international member companies of the network. The publication provides businesses an insight into how and why they should implement responsible practices in their business using examples from Sustainability Network members focusing predominantly on the four key impact areas of community, environment, marketplace and workplace with additional examples on reporting and communication.

The Workplace Wellness Task Group developed the Workplace Nutrition Programme Toolkit which offers important tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the workplace. This group will also be organising a Diabetes Campaign and Healthy Heart Campaign.

The Workplace Wellness Task Group includes DLA Piper, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, Pepsi Asia Middle East and Africa, Aramex, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, TNT Express, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, ZAFCO FZCO FZE, du, Axiom Telecom LLC, Research In Motion, Al Ghurair, Mashreq and Landmark Group.

The Waste Management & Resource Efficiency Task Group’s shared details of their publication, ‘Waste Management Issue Brief’ which addresses the information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  gaps and its management in the area. It also highlights the best practices and offers recommendations and solutions for waste management and informs about the campaigns carried out in shopping malls in partnership with Dubai Municipality on raising awareness on recycling and resources management.

The Waste Management and Resource Efficiency Task Group includes Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, Pepsi Asia Middle East and Africa, Aramex, HSBC Bank Middle East, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Axiom Telecom LLC, Henkel GCC, Al Ghurair, Landmark Group, Nokia and Eros Group.

The Integrating CSR/Sustainability into Business Strategy Task Group revealed how they used the Dubai Chamber CSR Label as a framework to perform a gap analysis on an SME and then utilised their shared experience to develop a roadmap for the company to integrate CSR within their business. The group is documenting the experience of integrating CSR within the selected organisation and will share the lessons learnt with the business community.

The team includes Aramex, TNT Express, ABB, Axiom Telecom LLC, Summertown, SamTech Middle East, Al Ghurair, Siemens LLC, and Eros Group.

The Employee Volunteering Task Group published a Guidebook on Employee Volunteering Management which highlights the positive impact of Employee Volunteering on businesses and provides step by step guidance on how to implement and run employee volunteering. The group also announced a workshop they will deliver on employee volunteering on October 18.

The Employee Volunteering Task Group includes DLA Piper, Al Ahli Holding Group, Aramex, HSBC Bank Middle East, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), TNT Express, Standard Chartered Bank, ABB, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, ZAFCO FZCO FZE, du, Henkel GCC, Research In Motion, Al Ghurair, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizen Trust (ME) and Mashreq.

The Community Investment Task Group launched  two “how to” guides and a case studies resource specifically on community initiatives to encourage companies to adopt strategic community investment and to increase their understanding of the benefits and impacts of community involvement as well as share best practice in corporate-charity partnerships and top tips on managing these relationship.

The task group members include DLA Piper, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, Pepsi Asia Middle East, Aramex, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), TNT Express, Corporate Citizen Trust (ME), ABB, Henkel GCC, Research In Motion and Nokia.

In his update presentation, Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, added that the Sustainability Network enhances the status of Dubai Chamber as it leads the concept of corporate social responsibility in the emirate and helps stimulate a constructive dialogue for companies to network, collaborate and contribute towards the sustainability agenda of Dubai. 

On the benefits of joining the network, Dr. Rettab added that the Sustainability Network provides an opportunity for companies to present themselves as role models and leaders in CSR, sustainability and corporate governance under the umbrella of the Centre for Responsible Business.

The Sustainability Network consists of 33 high profile businesses, with a record of achievements in sustainable excellence, as well as a determination to lead the business community to the next level and be at the forefront of the importance of sustainability for the future.

The task groups comprise members of the network collaborating on different joint initiatives to address sustainability challenges and to further support the mainstreaming of corporate social responsibility/sustainability and governance amongst businesses in the UAE.

The Centre for Responsible Business, which was formed in 2004, is the longest standing center promoting business responsibility in the UAE. The Centre not only assists Dubai Chamber members to apply responsible business practices that enhance performance and competitiveness but also offers a variety of educational, professional training and consulting services that are designed to build individual companies' capacity to implement broad CSR programmes including business ethics, sustainability reporting and corporate governance.

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