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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Mr Chairman,
Sustainable development has been on the global agenda for more than two decades, and is
now reaching new levels of urgency in an era of unprecedented economic growth. The
conference Partnerships for Sustainable Development: the Oslo conference on good
governance, and social and environmental responsibility was motivated by a joint call from
concerned stakeholders with great aspirations to contribute to advancing the sustainability
The conference took place in Oslo from 28 to 30 March this year, and attracted more than 800
participants from government, business, academia, trade unions and NGOs from more than 50
countries, from all regions of the world.
Allow me to share with you some of the key messages contained in the conference document,
the Oslo Agenda for Change.
Mr Chairman,
The conference participants clearly expressed a common sense of urgency to move forward on
issues of sustainability and CSR. A priority ahead, for governments and business alike, is to
reduce poverty and ensure better protection of the environment.
The needs of the poor should be addressed in a way that promotes sustainability. And models
for wealth creation should encompass both economic and social aspects, ensuring broad
participation and a social safety net. Faced with the threat of climate change, business as usual
is no longer an option. We all need to change our mindset.
Although much good work is being done by governments and business to meet social and
environmental concerns, serious gaps in government implementation and serious deficiencies
in industrial self-regulation still remain.
Concerted action by governments, local authorities, industry associations and corporate front
runners is vital to scale up implementation and to pull hesitant companies along.
Efforts to strengthen and develop existing voluntary international CSR instruments and
mechanisms must be scaled up, and wider application of existing voluntary regional and
multilateral frameworks is highly encouraged.
The conference clearly stated that working in partnership is key to meeting these global
challenges. Both resource depleting businesses, weak civil societies and failed governments
are part of the problem, but responsible companies, engaged governments, vigilant NGOs and
knowledge communities are also part of the solution.
The conference identified three main areas of unrealised potential for improving sustainability
and corporate social responsibility:

? respecting human rights and decent work standards
? applying environmentally and climate-change friendly business practices
? improving transparency and securing validation
Human rights, health issues like HIV/Aids, employment and decent work need to be put on
the sustainable development agenda. The protection of human rights is a moral imperative, for
governments, individuals, and for companies. Governments should ratify the ILO core
conventions and implement them nationally. When government implementation fails,
companies should be encouraged to establish and implement corporate standards in line with
the ILO core conventions.
The conference established a need for a shift towards low carbon technologies, focusing on
energy efficiency and renewable energy. This should not deprive developing countries of their
prospects of economic growth. Business needs predictability to make the necessary
investments, and all governments should enter a new international post-Kyoto agreement.
The credibility of corporate social responsibility depends on the confidence of all
stakeholders. International standards on the different aspects of CSR, combined with sound
sustainability reporting and independent audits, peer review mechanisms or certification
systems are excellent means of fostering discipline and continuous improvements.
Mr Chairman,
Norway believes that these key messages, expressed by a large group of experts and dedicated
individuals, will serve as valuable input to our discussions on industrial development in the
coming weeks.
Thank you.