What is CSR?
Business does not happen in empty space – it is strongly linked to its social and natural environment. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a framework for understanding, preventing and mitigating negative impacts of company actions on its social and natural environment while enhancing its positive effects.
CSR is continuously evolving, as are its definitions. In its Renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility, the European Commission adopts the definition of CSR as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”. Companies complying with their CSR aim to:
- maximise the creation of shared value for their owners/shareholders and for their other stakeholders and society at large
- identify, prevent and mitigate their possible adverse impacts.
Go to the European Commission’s dedicated page on CSR to access the Strategy and other useful resources:
CSR is also gaining pace in Latin America. Explore the report The corporate social responsibility in Latin American. A management guide (Spanish) by the Inter-American Development Bank to gain an understanding of the background and approaches to CSR in Latin America.
It is useful to look at CSR from two perspectives:
- How it is reported and why this matters
- What impact it has at ground level
CSR and sustainability reporting
The European Parliament and Council issued Directive 2014/95/EU, also known as the Non-Financial Reporting Directive. This directive requires large companies to report on the social and environmental impacts of their activities – on their CSR.
Go to the European Commission’s dedicated page on Non-Financial Reporting to access the Directive and other useful resources:
Several international initiatives have developed standards and guidelines to improve the quality of Non-Financial Reporting, or CSR reporting. The understanding of CSR has broadened to encompass global impacts – be they along international supply chains or due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fuelling the climate crisis. CSR reporting is thus evolving towards Sustainability Reporting. Examples of widely used reporting standards are:
- ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standard
- Standards of the Global Reporting Initiative
- IFC Performance Standards
The Global Reporting Initiative is also developing sector-specific reporting standards, for example on coal.
Mining companies are avid reporters, but the quality of reporting practices remains a challenge. In its report Sustainability in the Mining Sector: Current Status and Future Trends, the UN Environment Programme finds that increasing the focus on mine-site level reporting and third-party verification are among the necessary tasks to enhance the quality and relevance of the sustainability reporting of mining companies.
The IFC Performance Standards are an international benchmark for identifying and managing environmental and social risk and has been adopted by many organizations as a key component of their environmental and social risk management. IFC’s Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Guidelines provide technical guidelines with general and industry-specific examples of good international industry practice to meet IFC’s Performance Standards. For mining the IFC has developed a The Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Guidelines.
Good CSR practices
There is no blueprint for good CSR because it must be tuned to local conditions. However, enhancing mining companies’ CSR practices is a prerequisite to ensure that the sector fulfils its promise of contributing to the well-being of current and future generations around the globe. Assessing current CSR practices contributes to a better understanding of what is possible and necessary for enhancing the positive impact of CSR.
Nevertheless, for the mining industry, the ICMM's Mining Principles define the good practice environmental, social and governance requirements of company members through a comprehensive set of 38 Performance Expectations and eight related position statements on a number of critical industry challenges. Implementation of the Mining Principles supports progress towards the global targets of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change. ICMM’s Mining Principles seek to maximise the industry’s benefits to host communities while minimising negative impacts to manage issues of concern to society effectively.
Go to the Library to explore reports on the topic of CSR, local development and mining. In the folder “Responsible mining” you will find, among other resources, the following reports:
- The Responsible Mining Foundation’s Responsible Mining Index Report 2022. is an evidence-based assessment of 40 large mining companies’ policies and practices on economic, environmental, social and governance issues, with a separate assessment of 250 mine sites across 53 countries. It found that the vast majority of assessed mine sites cannot demonstrate that they are informing and engaging with host communities and workers on basic risk factors such as environmental impacts, safety issues or grievances. Some 94% of the mine sites score an average of less than 20% on the fifteen basic ESG issues assessed.
- The Responsible Mining Foundation’s report “Responsible mining in Latin Amerca and the Carribean?”. It presents findings for 49 mine sites in Latin America and the 20 companies operating in the region.
- The report “Beyond Extraction: Economic Opportunities in Mining Communities: Case Study of a Regional Local Economic Development Program in Brazil, Chile, and Peru (2016-2020)” showcases experiences from the regional programme “Beyond Extraction” of the Inter-American Development Bank and AngloAmerican. They implemented local development initiatives for enterprise development, workforce development, and value chain development in Brazil, Chile and Peru.