Social responsibility is not a new invention. From the beginning of industrialisation 250 years ago, philanthropic and altruistic initiatives existed in companies that were not meant as a means of making money, but which were out of pure benevolence.
However, it was not until the 1970s that the focus was on global challenges. In 1972, the United Nations held an international environment conference in Stockholm and formed UNEP – the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme. In 1987, the UN published the Brundtland report, which defined sustainable development. In 1992, an environmental and development conference was held in Rio de Janeiro, which formed the basis of the The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and agenda 21 programmes. Five years later, in 1997, this Convention was updated in Kyoto, Japan. At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, (Johannesburg, 2002), the basis for a global implementation plan of was developed.
The UN agreed eight development goals for the period 2000-2015. These were called, the Millennium Development Goals. These goals saw World leaders committing to combat issues such as; poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. In 2012, the UN conference returned to Rio and negotiated the Rio+20 declaration on climate change. This was followed by a new process and conference in 2015, renewing the World Goals for the next 15 years (2015-30) – Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs).
These 17 SDGs apply to all countries and all actors – in principle also companies.
In parallel with these actions in the areas of the climate, the environment and social responsibility in the framework of the United Nations, there have also been similar developments in other international forums, such as the EU and the OECD, as well as in governments, organisations and companies.
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