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Business Against Poverty, Business For Peace – Oxymorons No Longer

Suddenly – virtually overnight – the real, long-standing virtues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development commitments are “news”.

Memes that smart companies can pursue “good business” and “good citizenship” simultaneously and in reciprocal fashion are now taking root and getting traction in media, academia and popular culture.

(Full disclosure: Some of us have been preaching that for decades.)

The latest example is today’s commentary in The Guardian: “Role of business in development. Can business succeed in eliminating poverty where NGOs have failed?” Tim Smedley’s report, in effect, says “yes, indeed” (even as he notes the few potential downsides to such progress). Read how many companies, ranging from Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Royal Dutch Shell Group to Ballpur Industries Limited, Grameen Danone Foods and Jakarta-based KeBAL, are addressing development – and, therefore, intrinsically, poverty – in less developed countries.

And here’s a “head’s up” on important progress in the weeks just ahead:

March 5th – Publication of “Responsible Leadership: Lessons from the Front Line of Sustainability and Ethics” by Sir Mark Stuart-Moody, formerly CEO of Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo American plc and now chair of the United Nations Global Compact’s recently-launched “Business For Peace” global initiative.

Week of March 31stBusiness In Society programming on the UNGC’s “Business For Peace” (B4P) progress within UNGC’s 17 regional networks around the world.

April 9th and 10th – “The role of partnerships and their contribution to the post-2015 Development Agenda” presented by the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations and the President of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Objective: “To enable Member States to deepen the understanding of what would be required of multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development after 2015.”

All of this – and much more in place and still to come — shouldn’t be surprising. After all, even way back in the ’nineties, Socialist leader Michael Harrington commented, perhaps ruefully: “Capitalism’s most daunting characteristic is its ability to co-opt the reforms, even the radical changes, of the opponents of the system.”