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UN Global Compact Russia

Interview

Larisa Ovchinnikova. Business needs to learn how to use Global Compact as an instrument of sustainable development

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Larisa Ovchinnikova

Expert in the sphere of sustainable development

Today business is considered responsible if it encourages positive impacts through their activities on the environment, stakeholders, consumers and communities apart from making profit and using resources in its own interests.


POSITION IN GLOBAL COMPACT

Chair of the Board of the Association ‘National Network of the Global Compact’

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND

Expert in the sphere of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Lomonosov Moscow State University (Faculties of geography and psychology) and Kutafin Moscow State Law University graduate. Managing Director of the Institutional Development Department of the State Corporation "Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank)". Manages Vnesheconombank participation in corporate social responsibility and sustainable development initiatives and Russian National Network of the Global Compact development on behalf of Vnesheconombank - the Head of the network since 2013.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Long-standing social activity in geography, culture, ecology, environmental protection, history, wide experience in law practice, projects and organizations management. Head of real estate and investment projects department of MSU, Russian Geographical Society (RGS) Executive Director, Member of the Presidium of Scientific Commission of RGS, Member of the Supervisory Board of the Eurasian center of study, preservation and restore populations of the Amur leopard.

THE BEST RECENT PROFESSIONAL EVENTS

The first World Congress on indigenous people which took place in New York in 2015. Delegations fr om all the countries inhabited by the indigenous minorities were present there, many delegates were dressed in traditional costumes. It was so beautiful and spectacular! The Congress demonstrated the identity, individuality and differences together with common interest of nations and proved the importance of respect for indigenous peoples rights. The Congress adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was supported by the Russian Federation as well.

RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS

Today business is considered responsible if it encourages positive impacts through their activities on the environment, stakeholders, consumers and communities apart fr om making profit and using resources in its own interests. The term 'responsible business' has become broader. I am happy to see that business starts taking on more responsibility on its own initiative without any pressure from the government.

PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES

Formation of Russian community of responsible companies - Global Compact participants jointly with my colleagues which will promote national business, foster its modernisation and sustainable development which will contribute to the economy development, improve investment attractiveness of Russia and quality of life there.

Larisa Evgenyevna, it seems that you had to give us just a brief description of your emotions in our questionnaire. You are in the middle of the events and actions, meetings which are connected with the global agenda. Could you give us an example of one of your latest speeches?

My life and work are both devoted to the global agenda and it is very interesting but not that easy. I made one of my latest speeches at the panel discussion ‘Sustainable development. Local solutions to the global problems’ arranged by the Chevening Alumni Committee in the Great Britain Ambassador`s residence.

What are these local solutions?

The main thing I tried to convey to our foreign colleagues and Russian partners is that business in Russia is recognizing its involvement to sustainable development processes. Corporate social responsibility today is considered mainly as activity in sustainable development sphere. Responsible business is becoming a way of sustainable development strategy realisation at the level of a company.

Is that trend widespread in our country?

Now such approach is typical mostly for national business-leaders, the majority of which are participants of the Russian Global Compact Network.These are large companies which can build a system balancing interests of all parties and territories of presence or activity - that is how such companies have already recalled them. It is a good sign. Terminology reflects new style of business thinking. Companies say: «We are not just present here. That is the place wh ere we act, work and make an impact on the environment, community. We are pro-active to mitigate negative impact risks and create new conditions for territory development».

The same approach underlies the renewed concept of the Russian Global Compact development.

That is it. Now we have reached a new level of its development in the form of Association. We strive to make our activity systematic and sustainability-oriented. This is the main goal of reorganization. Now we focus not just on trends such as Sustainable development goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate etc. but on search of the mechanisms allowing to involve the GC participants in achieving SDGs, opportunities of uniting the Russian responsible business, ways of specification of the criteria showing the business success in promoting sustainable development agenda. The GC participants use the same approach: they set priorities in this sphere, elaborate projects portfolio and search for the ways of its realization through implementation of new procedures, revision of corporate management models, participation in special programs etc.

Has the Association already set its priorities which underline the new systematic approach?

Jointly with the members of the Governing Board and active participants we have created a set of strategic projects of the Association for the near future which includes development and promotion of responsible financial and investment practice, public non-financial reporting, contribution to the SDGs achievement, business and human rights global climate action, sustainable development education. We are gaining power and capacity and attach great importance to establishing partnership, collective actions, cooperation in all spheres wh ere the GC can be used as a resource, platform or instrument.

Many companies face difficulties with considering the Global Compact a practical instrument due to its inclusiveness and globality.

It is obvious. But it is possible to find some benefits. Business needs to learn how to use Global Compact as an instrument for sustainable development. The GC participants have many privileges. Participation in the initiative allows to overcome the challenges on the way to international cooperation and partnership, growth sufficient for effective capitalization. It gives an opportunity to visit the main UN and GC international events, participate in creation of the global agenda and act at the national level by developing competence and methods of eveluation of business and society involvement in sustainable development processess. It allows to be engaged in expert discussions aimed at finding weak and strong aspects of involvement. Only consolidated communities can make a framework for that.

Is that how you and your colleagues position the Global Compact - as framework for such consolidated activity?

Global Compact is a great framework for that. Our goal is formation of a strong community of responsible companies and partners in Russia, which will be able to develop and promote the sustainable development agenda on three levels: companies activity, national level and international cooperation. Such approach will help to find local solutions to the global problems, to clear the mechanism of global agenda adaptation to the national context taking into account local priorities. This is how new forms of dialogues and multilateral cooperations appear.

How do you see the near future of the Association?

Our main priority is to create a set of projects which will be in demand for the participants which will include different corporate social responsibility and sustainable development programs with due regard for participants priorities, wh ere every member will find their own issue and interest. There is a wide range of variants of such work. The Association can act as tha national and international platform. We are facilitators, inspirators, advisors, mentors. We provide instruments aimed at building new relations, inviting new opportunities for the Russian companies, promotion of its achievements, strengthening the economy. We are association of all the stakeholders which will be developing in the interests of the Russian responsible business. Together we will cope with the most complicated problems and find the most effective solutions in sustainable development sphere.

Source: "Strategy" journal


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