SECO helps employers to run their businesses responsibly while taking into account social and ecological aspects alongside economic considerations.
Companies have a decisive impact on the performance of economies and, as such, shoulder a great responsibility. They create jobs, pay wages and taxes, thereby contributing significantly to social prosperity. In developing countries and emerging economies, companies invest far more than the resources provided by official development assistance. That is why SECO supports responsible and competition-oriented entrepreneurship.
Sustainable success with Corporate Social Responsibility
SECO is committed to ensuring that company management pursues not only economic goals, but that it takes responsibility for employees, society and the environment and complies with international environmental, labour and human rights standards. This reinforces the positive impact of entrepreneurial activity and minimises the negative side effects. Additionally, SECO promotes sustainable business models for public companies, for instance in the area of water supply services. The aim is to ensure they can provide reliable basic services.
SECO promotes business models that favour sustainable development.
Implementation using internationally recognised tools
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the recommendations for responsible business conduct of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provide an important framework for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The OECD has also published sector-specific recommendations for mining, textile production and agriculture. Private self-regulating instruments in turn play a key role in the practical implementation of these recommendations. Examples of this include leading initiatives of sustainability reporting, standards and labels.
The Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM), the development finance institution of the Swiss Confederation, reinforces responsible business conduct too. All companies that receive investment must fulfil the SIFEM guidelines, which in turn are based on international standards and best practices. SIFEM’s financial intermediaries and their respective portfolio companies and customers must comply with environmental, social and governance standards or work towards achieving compliance with these within a pre-defined time frame.
Together with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), SECO promotes sustainability reporting of companies in its partner countries. Companies systematically consider sustainability aspects in their business activity and report their progress to stakeholders.
SECO’s COMPASS programme improves drinking and waste water services in Columbia. As part of the programme, SECO assists water companies in making their financial, operational and strategic processes more efficient and more effective. For instance, improvement measures are implemented in the areas of finance, operational management and organisation and employees receive corresponding training. The programme also encompasses targeted investments in, for example, water meters. Alongside this, the programme assists state authorities with consultancy and specialist expertise to support the implementation of reforms in the water sector.