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CSR is key to the future of Africa, President Mary Robinson

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Ireland’s First Female President, Mary Robinson has described Corporate Social Responsibility as a key driver to the future of the African economy. In a keynote address delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the Africa CEO Roundtable & Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (AR_CSR), 2011, held recently in Lagos, Nigeria; the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave insightful case studies on how organisations can leverage on CSR for improved growth and development of emerging economies.

L-R Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezeigbo, Mr. Dotun Sulaiman, Chairman, Arian Capital; Dr. Wayne Visser, CEO CSR International; President Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland & Keynote Speaker; Mrs. Ini Onuk, Convener, AR-CSR; Prof. Craig Smith, INSEAD Chaired Professor on Business Ethics & Social Responsibility; Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha, MD, NDDC and Morin Desalu, MD, Riskwatch Insurance at the recently concluded Africa CEO Roundtable on CSR in Lagos.

In her words, CSR is key to the private sector (in any economy) reaching its goal and is also key to the future of Africa’. President Robinson who has extensive experience in issues of Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Rights, International Diplomacy and Law, Leadership, Enterprise and Ethical Globalisation; delivered an apt and thought_provoking keynote address on the theme, ‘The Business Case for CSR & its Impact on African Economies’.

Robinson also sighted her work on human rights including BLIHR (the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights) and the John Ruggie framework on business and human rights, destined to shortly become “soft law”, which coincidentally received UN approval that same evening.

In a prior welcome address, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN represented by the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler; re_iterated the inevitable overlap between private and public sectors when providing social infrastructure and services.

Fashola also added that, ‘…it is therefore essential for companies to undertake their businesses in line with global best practices in terms of meeting their civic obligations, upholding high ethical standards and above all in a sustainable manner to deliver tangible social and development impact in their operating environment’.

The opening ceremony of the Africa CEO Roundtable & Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (AR_CSR™), was rounded off with the public presentation of CSR Files™; a new sustainability and CSR Journal published by the event organizers, ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited.

President Robinson had the previous day joined in the CEO Roundtable that preceded the conference proper and listened into the discussions by Aigboje Aig_Imoukhuede, MD, Access Bank Plc; Chibuzor Uwoha, MD, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Morin Desalu, MD, Riskwatch Insurance Plc and Adedotun Sulaiman, Chairman, Arian Capital Limited. She was later hosted to a cocktail reception ahead of the conference the following day.

The CSR conference that followed has been described as extremely engaging and informative, featured an array of the world’s leading experts on corporate social responsibility who shared their wealth of experience over two days through seven sessions.

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