The work of Global Compact leading cities –  Oslo, Melbourne and Leeuwarden – with their cities’ private sector has provided valuable case studies for a recently published guide on social and environmental corporate responsibility.

Developed by Helen Scott, Cities Programme Research Associate and PhD Candidate with RMIT, the “Local Government Guide to Fostering Corporate Responsibility” offers a range of mechanisms that can be used by local government to engage the private sector in greater corporate responsibility.

Scott said the participating cities provide great examples of the diversity of approaches that city governments are taking in their relationship to the private sector.

City of Leeuwarden

In a program aimed at increasing the number of vehicles in Leeuwarden driving on green gas (biogas), the City worked collaboratively in a multi-pronged approach with car dealers and biogas producers (farmers and garbage collectors).

City of Melbourne

Built in 2004, award-winning Council House 2 (CH2) continues to be used to educate others on what is possible in a medium size office block. It was granted a 6 Star Green Star “As Built” and “Design” rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

To advance the City’s Zero Net Emissions by 2020i aspirations, City of Melbourne convened a group of high energy-using businesses within the City and in neighbouring local government areas to form a group purchasing consortium.

City of Oslo

The City of Oslo established a ‘framework agreement’ to obtain audits of ethical standards in supply chains and invited other public agencies to join the agreement. With over 60 public agencies now signing the framework agreement, City of Oslo’s initiative has the potential for considerable business social responsibility impact.

City of Geelong

The Future Proofing Geelong program started with seven partners across sectors and now involves 1o in groups spanning the Advisory Group, Working Group and three separate Reference Groups, which met regularly for over a year.

This extensive engagement process brought all the partners and their stakeholders together, to establish a common focus; improving the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Geelong.

The UN Global Compact – Cities Programme last year worked with the Committee for Geelong to develop the report Winning From Second: What Geelong Can Learn From International Second Cities. “Winning from Second” was launched on 23 November 2016 and Geelong have since been invited to join the Cities Programme.

Scott also noted that her decade worth of working with local governments on sustainability initiatives showed her how focused they had originally been on their own operations.

“Over time, of course, [local government] have taken their experience and applied it in their wider communities,” said Scott. “What better way to do that than working proactively with local businesses to improve social and environmental outcomes for the whole community?”.

Cities appreciated being involved in the research project and were positive in their feedback about the end product. Tove Margrethe Dyblie, Programme Coordinator of the City of Oslo’s Agency of Urban Environment praised the guide’s style.

“It’s short enough to want to read, but with enough information to have value.”

The “Local Government Guide to Fostering Corporate Responsibility” covers a number of areas:

  • A definition of corporate responsibility and government’s role in promoting responsible business behaviour;
  • A range of mechanisms that can be used by local government to engage the private sector in greater corporate responsibility;
  • Examples of these mechanisms implemented in different parts of the world, to inspire and support practitioners; and
  • Guidance for developing a local corporate responsibility program.

The document is structured on seven core categories—awareness raising, facilitation, partnering, soft law, financing, planning and mandating—and seven key steps to stakeholder engagement.

“Its a very exciting time for local government,” said Scott. “The folk I spoke to as part of this research were really inspiring. They know that local governments working collaboratively with the private sector can be a strong force for sustainability, and the interviewees mentioned so many innovative opportunities to engage with their local businesses. Truly inspiring!”

The guide was produced with the support and contribution of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, RMIT Centre for Urban Research and RMIT School of Accounting. It was funded by the RMIT  Global Cities Research Institute.


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