Complex Made Simple

Qatari businesses shifting towards longer-term CSR collaborations, say experts

Key decision-makers from Microsoft, Shell, Qatar Red Crescent Society, and Qatar University weigh in on CSR strategies and trends ahead of 3rd CSR Qatar

As the third edition of CSR Qatar 2015 prepares to get underway in Doha in less than two weeks’ time, key speakers at the country’s flagship conference for CSR and sustainability shared their views on the trends underpinning the changing CSR landscape in Qatar while providing insights into the strategies and practices that business must adopt in order to push the country’s sustainability agenda forward.

Held under the patronage of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, CSR Qatar 2015 takes place from 23 – 25 November at Hilton Doha Hotel, under the theme “Transforming CSR to Support a Socially Responsible and Sustainable Economy in Qatar”.

Commenting on the shift in businesses’ approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, Rob Sherwin, General Manager – Corporate Affairs and Deputy Country Chairman, Shell, who will be speaking at the opening panel discussion of the conference, said, “Companies in Qatar and the GCC region are increasingly making two shifts in their approach to Corporate Social Responsibility: firstly – moving away from ad hoc philanthropy and sponsorships towards longer-term partnerships where the company is contributing and transferring capabilities and expertise in addition to just money; and secondly – reframing CSR not just as the way the company spends / gives away its money, but also how it makes its money, ie: ethical business, good employer, environmentally responsible etc.”

Saleh Ali Al Mohannadi, Secretary-General of Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS), stressed the need for more closely aligned public-private partnerships. He said, “Under Qatar Vision 2030, there is an inherent link between the four pillars (economic, social, human, and environmental development). All of these pillars are obviously interrelated in that they require strong public-private partnerships.”

Now, he added, it is not the State’s exclusive responsibility to seek the best interest of the society in general; the business community also has the ethical and pragmatic duty to adopt projects and strategies that go in line with the above pillars, serving the welfare of the nation where they are working and thriving.

Identifying education, youth development, and capacity building in science and technology as the key areas for Qatari corporates to invest back into the country, Dr. Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Qatar Shell Professorial Chair of Sustainable Development and Professor for Food and Water Security at the Centre for Sustainable Development, Qatar University, said it is imperative for any nation to develop a vibrant science structure and ensure that economic growth is achieved in consonance with environmental demands.

“Technology and science shape tomorrow’s world and improving the quality of education is fundamental to heightening interest in, and facilitating a culture of, science and technology in the country. Enhancement of the educational system leads to the development of a scientific infrastructure, which over time will evolve into a platform for producing cutting-edge technology and innovations which positively impact the society and bring lasting prosperity and progress to the nation,” Dr. Khan said.

Dr. Muhammad Ajmal Khan will be speaking on the second day of the conference on the topic “Developing the Future Workforce”, while Saleh Ali Al Mohannadiwill participate in a panel discussion entitled “Shared Value Approach: Optimising NGO Relationships by Creating Measureable, Impactful Projects”, to be held on the same day. They are among a stellar line-up of speakers at the conference that also includes H.E. Ewa Polano, Swedish Ambassador to Qatar; NaimYazbeck, General Manager, Microsoft Qatar; Ricardo Viana Vargas, Director of the Infrastructure andProject Management Group, United Nations Office for ProjectServices – Denmark; Joe Y. Battikh, Head of Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility and Government & Industry Relations, Ericsson; Khalid AbdulnoorSaifeldeen, Director of HITC and Chairman of Kulluna, Hamad MedicalCorporation (HMC); NaelAttiyat, Country Manager – Qatar, DHL; Dr. Mohammad Saif Al-Kuwari, Board Member, National Human Rights Committee (NHRC)and Yousef Bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, CEO, Qatar Charity.

CSR Qatar 2015 will feature a number of insightful keynote presentations, panel discussions and workshops covering a variety of topics ranging from sustainable development, social entrepreneurship and education to worker and labor rights, employment generation, and CSR in sports.

Commenting on his company’s participation in the third edition of CSR Qatar, Microsoft Qatar General Manager Naim Yazbeck said: “Microsoft Qatar is proud to be part of this vital national conference. This represents another step forward, reflecting Microsoft’s commitment to supporting human development in Qatar – a key pillar of the National Vision for 2030. Building on our participation in last year’s CSR conference, we are delighted to be this round’s official Technology Sponsor. The event will tackle the latest innovative strategies, compelling challenges, and emerging topics in relation to CSR in Qatar and the world.”

CSR Qatar 2015 is supported by several leading public and private organizations in Qatar including WOQOD (Qatar Fuel) and Microsoft.