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Arab companies honoured for sustainability efforts

Twenty companies operating in the Mena regions were honoured for their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility during The Arabia CSR Network Forum and Awards Ceremony 2012, held on Wednesday.

The Arabia CSR Network was officially launched in 2009, but the awards were first held in 2008. The Arabia CSR Network grew out of the Emirates Environmental Group CSR Network, which has been advancing Corporate Social Responsibility in the UAE and the Gulf Region since 2004.

This year’s forum and award ceremony was titled “Embracing Sustainability in times of Instability”.

Fatima Al Marashi, President of Arabia CSR Network, said that even with all the economic and political instability in the Arab regions there is a large number of companies that did not abandon sustainability and social responsibility efforts.

Grace Ugut, a member of the jury and who has also been involved with the project since 2006, said “they were trying to find something that would recognise the role of the private sector in economic development, sustainable empowerment and social development.

For many companies sustainability is part of their strategy.

Memosh Khawaja, general manager of Henkel Arabia, said globally, Henkel has been among the first companies to issue a sustainability report and they have a long history in sustainability. “Our global model integrates business performance and sustainability together.”

He explained that they measure the company’s success by either an increase in their performance or a reduction in their carbon footprint.

The award featured six categories; public sector, large companies, medium companies, small companies, an award for the best new business (under three years) and one for effective corporate-NGO cooperation. And the top three of each category were awarded.

The criteria and questionnaires, Fatima said, has been changed and reviewed for every edition. She added that this year there were 58 applications that made it to the jury from 17 industry sectors from 11 Arab countries.

The first place for public sector went to the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KPEC), the large company category was won by UAE-based Al Futtaim Carillion, the medium category was a tie between Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company and DLA Piper Middle East LLP in the UAE.

The small company category award went to Bank Sarasin-Alpen (ME) Limited, while the award for best new business went to ABB LLC — Oman and the effective corporate NGO collaboration was a tie between Boeing International (UAE) and BLC Bank SAL (Lebanon).

There are different types of projects and programmes that help companies give back to society and ensure they are environmental friendly.

KPEC for example had spent $250 million (Dh918 million) in the last three years in environmental projects. The projects include a water treatment and a large natural reserve. The company is socially responsible too as it has a large number of special needs employees and conduct workshops to ensure the safety of their employees.

Fatima said that “participation in the Arab CSR awards is not a destination, but a journey towards reflection, assessment and improvement for a more effective and sustained impact, especially in areas of corporate responsibility and sustainability.” She added that organisations and companies apply every year to see how they are doing against their own previous performance to become more sustainable and have a positive impact on society.

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