National CSR Forum
Because of this constellation, the National CSR Forum, which the Labour Ministry launched in 2009, is of crucial importance. It is composed of 41 high-ranking experts from the private sector, trade unions, NGOs, academia and representatives of the competent Federal Ministries. The members are first and foremost institutions and groups and not individuals.
The National CSR Forum's main jobs include advising the Federal Government on further developing the national CSR strategy and drawing up recommendations on individual topics. The starting point was the 2010 recommendations report on the basis of which the Federal Cabinet adopted the National CSR Action Plan in the same year. The Forum usually meets twice a year. The "executive organ" of the Forum, its nine-person steering committee, prepares the meetings. The steering committee also brings together all stakeholders.
The future of the CSR strategy
The last meeting of the National CSR Forum, at which Federal Minister Andrea Nahles made the opening remarks, was held on 29 January 2015. In her remarks Minister Nahles stressed the role of the Forum in the further development of the CSR strategy. She mentioned the changes to the international understanding of CSR as a result of the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011 and their effect on the OECD Guidelines and the EU's strategy. She emphasised that the notion of due diligence along supply chains had become the focus of the international debate also influencing the national CSR strategy. In the aftermath of disasters like the collapse of the Bangladeshi textile factory Rana Plaza in 2013, the debate was revolving around the question of how the enforcement of labour and social standards can be improved worldwide.
Minister Nahles also recounted the Federal Government's most important CSR activities:
• the joint initiative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which put the promotion of decent work worldwide through sustainable supply chains on the agenda of Germany's G7 Presidency,
• the development of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights in an effort to implement the UN Guiding Principles and
• transposing the EU directive on the disclosure of non-financial information into national law.
In the presence of Reiner Hoffmann, the President of the German Trade Union Confederation, and Reinhard Göhner, the Director-General of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations, the participants of the meeting identified three priorities for the further work on the CSR strategy:
1. Support for SMEs remains a key priority of the CSR strategy. This includes holding practical workshop days in the various regions, where the CSR topics are presented in an easy-to-understand way. The Federal Government will continue with its CSR award and will again select a winner in 2017.
2. On the basis of the EU's understanding of CSR, the strategy will have more of an international dimension in future, and the German position will be presented at the international level (EU, G7, G20, ILO).
3. A priority of the Forum will be the work on a Berlin CSR consensus on corporate responsibility along production and supply chains. The goal is to provide companies with more guidance and certainty in managing their production and supply chains.