How is social responsibility applied in MENA Countries? The project on the uptake and use of ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility (SR) within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region targets 8 pilot countries, namely, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria. The overarching objective is to build capacity within each of the selected countries, using the national standards body (NSB) as the central pivot. This project aims to build local capacity on ISO 26000 and its application to allow organizations to apply the SR principles in their operations. It covers a series of activities to create a pool of national experts, who can then assist a certain number of voluntary pilot organizations in the various countries in applying ISO 26000. The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The project will be deployed in two phases, Phase I was implemented in 2011 and Phase II was implemented from 2012-2014. What is ISO 26000? ISO 26000 is an ISO International Standard giving guidance on SR. It is intended for use by organizations of all types, in both public and private sectors, in developed and developing countries, as well as in economies in transition. It will assist them in their efforts to operate in the socially responsible manner that society increasingly demands. ISO 26000 contains voluntary guidance, not requirements, and therefore is not for use as a certification standard. ISO 26000 distils a globally relevant understanding of what social responsibility is and what organizations need to do to operate in a socially responsible way. Why is ISO 26000 important and what benefits can be achieved by implementing ISO 26000? Sustainable business for organizations means not only providing products and services that satisfy the customer, and doing so without jeopardizing the environment, but also operating in a socially responsible manner. Pressure to do so comes from customers, consumers, governments, associations and the public at large. The perception and reality of an organization’s performance on social responsibility can influence, among other things: Competitive advantage Reputation Ability to attract and retain workers or members, customers, clients or users Maintenance of employees’ morale, commitment and productivity View of investors, owners, donors, sponsors and the financial community Relationship with companies, governments, media, suppliers, peers, customers and the community in which it operates. Who can benefit from ISO 26000 and how? ISO 26000 is intended to assist organizations in contributing to sustainable development. In applying ISO 26000, it is advisable that an organization take into consideration societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political and organizational diversity, as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behavior. The standard provides guidance for all types of organizations, regardless of their size or location, on: Concepts, terms and definitions related to social responsibility Background, trends and characteristics of social responsibility Principles and practices relating to social responsibility Core subjects and issues of social responsibility Integrating, implementing and promoting socially responsible behavior throughout the organization and, through its policies and practices, within its sphere of influence Identifying and engaging stakeholders Communicating commitments, performance and other information related to social responsibility. LIBNOR has accomplished the following activities under the frame of SR MENA project Training of 16 national experts on ISO 26000 and its application Conducting more than 6 national awareness raising event on ISO 26000. The national experts provided their technical support for the implementation of social responsibility in 14 pilot organizations over the 4 years of the project: LIBNOR provided a three days training course on Guidance on social responsibility ISO26000 for 26 companies on the 23th to 25th of May 2012 2 national experts were selected from Lebanon as trainers in social responsibility collaboration with ISO SR experts trained 8 national experts 8- 11 April 2013 holiday Inn The third National Awareness session under the frame work of this project has been held on the 12th of April 2013 Ballroom holiday Inn- 25 people attended the session and were introduced to the general requirements of ISO26000, its overall impacts and benefits A seminar about “social responsibility and the development role of municipalities” has been organized in Aley on the 25th of October 2013. The TV program “Al hiwar al iktisadi” covered the event and interviewed the general director of LIBNOR Ms. Lena Dergham as well as the national experts. Discussions were enlightening and pointed out major requirements of social responsibility and the role that municipalities could play to adopt the concepts of social responsibility and encourage their implementation by citizens and companies. LIBNOR and the General Union of Arabic Chambers have organized the ' social responsibility for banks and Arabic companies' Forum in Beirut Adnan Kassar building on the 16th of September 2014. The objective of the Forum was to highlight the social responsibility of businesses and the importance of maintaining the balance between required resources and the economical and developmental needs of the community. On the other hand, the forum pointed some pioneer experiences in this area and identified proper means to disseminate the concept of social responsibility, and the strategy to encourage the adoption of social responsibility within businesses and enterprises internal systems. The Forum addressed the following themes: a. The role of the chambers and their associations in disseminating the concepts of social responsibility in the private sector b. Social responsibility of the banks and their expected leading role c. Relation between the production and services sectors and social responsibility Links to: During the event, and as a recognition for their efforts, LIBNOR presented awards to the national experts and pilot organizations who have showed commitment to the concepts of social responsibility which was reflected in actual implementation and incorporation of SR requirements in their business policies and strategies.