Businesses should run according to sustainable development and no longer sacrifice the environment for the sake of economic development, an expert said Wednesday.
Johannes Lokollo, an advisor on corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Indonesia office, said the environment needed stronger protection as it was facing increasing threats from economic development that was environmentally unfriendly.
“Economic development should not cause environmental destruction and ecological loss. Therefore, it should not be separated from environmental protection,” he told The Jakarta Post.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Joint Corporate Social Responsibility Forum agreed between the Korean Embassy, the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) and the ILO.
The ILO defines CSR as programs conducted by companies that can improve the conditions of workers and their families and society at large, and which must be sustainable or contribute to the local economy.
Johannes said CSR should become part of all business strategy due to the fact that unethical business practices had caused environmental damage and had even reduced the survival capacity of many people.
“Definitely, we agree that businesses need to make a profit; however, they should not only think profits without creating improved living conditions for their workers and their families, as well as people overall,” he said.
During the Rio + 20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June, world leaders pledged to renew their political commitments to develop the green economy, which would enable cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without causing economic hardship to people in their countries.
The ILO Indonesia’s representative, Peter van Rooij, said that in line with improved economics, countries were now obliged to meet more transparent and socially and environmentally sustainable development standards.
“These expectations are not only aimed at governments but also at business associations as well as companies themselves. And today’s Joint CSR Forum is particularly relevant, with its aim to address these issues and act as a catalyst for CSR within companies and among foreign investors in Indonesia,” he said.
Apindo chairman, Sofjan Wanandi, said more effort was needed to be taken to advance partnerships in the private sector, especially with regards to CSR, to promote sustainable development in Indonesia.
He said there were still challenges facing CSR implementation in Indonesia, such as limited capacity among businesses. There was also a lack of awareness of how businesses could benefit from CSR programs, plus a lack of government recognition and incentives,” said Sofjan.
He said the private sector could take the initiative in working with the government to provide clear definitions for CSR and specific guidelines to govern CSR activities. (nvn)