Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (MDG’s have been replaced by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016) are fundamental development ideals reached at a United Nations (UN) millennium summit in September 2000. Present at this summit were all member states of the United Nations, which, although were one hundred and eighty-nine (189) at the time, are currently one hundred and ninety-three at the moment. This summit produced eight goals, after the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. How do you achieve this on a grass root scale? Through corporate social responsibility.
The Millennium Declaration basically united the desire and dedication of different world leaders to address important issues bordering on poverty alleviation, security, global development, human rights, and in essence environment, and global cooperation.
The United Nations member states adopted this MDGs Declaration consisting of 8 goals (which comprised of sub-goals of their further target indicators):
- Eliminating poverty and hunger
- Basic education for every child (boy and girl)
- Gender equality and the empowerment of women
- Reduce the proportion of child mortality
- Improving maternal health
- Fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases
- Environmental sustainability
- Build a global partnership for development
(Source: UN Millennium Project 2005: xviii)
The MDGs show on a large scale the targeted developmental results in the different pertinent areas, however with no defined methods or ways to achieve them. This is because every country differs in one way or the other in the techniques to be used in achieving these goals. Different factors are influential in hitting these achievements, economic conditions and political environments being some of them.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Worldwide, corporate social responsibility has fast become popular in the business community, practiced one way or the other, and weighs more in more countries than some. In many developed countries, CSR has evolved to become strategic actions and events that are of benefits to the society at large, moving from being mere entrepreneurial initiatives to being standard state policies. In many of these developed countries, corporate social responsibility benefits communities as well as the government and allows for businesses to promptly respond to societal needs, be it environmental, societal, or economic. The practice of effective corporate social responsibilities by organizations ultimately reduces the huge responsibility placed on the government to attend to every issue.
Also, these corporate organizations that engage in corporate social responsibilities have the opportunity to establish for themselves a good and positive image and reputation to be perceived by society. This established image helps them further promote their products and/or services. Despite, however, the huge benefits of Corporate social responsibility, it demands carefully coordinated action from all stakeholders and non-governmental organizations in order to achieve sustainable results.
From the perspective of European Union Green Paper, corporate social responsibility is conceptualized as when companies integrate social and environmental concerns into their business operations and their interaction with stakeholders voluntarily. The principles of corporate social responsibility demand that companies expand their commitments beyond the objective of simply making profit and abiding by law to increasing the social and environmental sustainability of the community in which their operations are carried out.
Fostering a better reception and a deeper commitment to practicing corporate social responsibility on the part of organizations has been one solution put forth by some academics, government agencies, and development institutions to help companies contribute more to the socio-economic development of the country. This is because it is clear that organizations are becoming increasingly powerful as measured by their influence on national and foreign policies as well as their control of productive assets. To what extent, therefore, can this burgeoning corporate power be used to improve national development, and achieve our millennium development goals?
One of such ways is to have a clear government vision of how it wants to address issues, and ensuring the use of the nation’s natural resources for socio-economic development. Corporate Social Responsibility activities can also help minimize the negative environmental issues resulting from the production of goods and materials, for example, pollution and oil spillages in the case of Nigeria.
Government can also take advantage of corporate social responsibility to advocate business practices that are socially responsible. For example, we see some organizations that have founded community development projects, and some that have set up standard HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns and programs. That is, the government can collaborate with organizations to support activities aimed at promoting healthy local enterprise, skills development, and entrepreneurial development.
In conclusion, it is important for us as a nation to embrace more and foster the practice of corporate social responsibility because well-implemented Corporate social responsibility plans and programs can contribute immensely towards sustainable development in the immediate communities in which these organizations operate. Sustainable development positively affects national development and the achievement of desired millennium development goals.
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