March/April 2010

The Centre for Excellence in CSR

A web-based “one-stop shop” for expertise

By H. Ednie

CIM executive director, Jean Vavrek (left) and former Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day at a press conference announcing the launch of the Centre for Excellence in CSR

The Centre for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was officially launched this winter. Part of the Canadian government’s action plan on CSR — Building the Canadian Advantage — announced last March, this initially web-based resource will provide access to relevant CSR-related information, tools and networks worldwide.

“This new website will create a one-stop shop with the latest information on corporate social responsibility rules, laws and best practices, as well as timely and practical information and advice on foreign countries, local networks and relevant experiences of Canadian companies, civil society and other stakeholders operating abroad,” said Stockwell Day, former Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway (currently president, Treasury Board).

The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) is spearheading the development of the centre, with the support of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. A multi-stakeholder interim executive committee (IEC) has been established, ensuring that a broad spectrum of perspectives are included and pave the way for the centre’s development. Although located within the CIM website, the centre is “owned” by all stakeholders.

“As a community for leading industry expertise, CIM works with its members to continuously improve the extractive sector’s performance, so the development of the Centre for Excellence in CSR is one more logical step for us,” said CIM executive director Jean Vavrek. “We have played leading roles in the fostering of knowledge sharing and networking to raise the bar for our industry — be it in the creation of the CIM resource/reserve definitions and guidelines, community engagement or safety standards. Through our publications and conferences, we have maintained a constant focus on CSR-related issues. Now, with our work on the creation of the centre, we’re able to really dig in to advance the accumulation of CSR developments with all stakeholders at the table.”

A great deal of strategic development work will be carried out in the coming year to position the Centre for Excellence in CSR as the premier resource on CSR for Canadian extractive companies, the government, civil society organizations and communities. The centre will address the need for the various interested parties to work together to build a stronger CSR platform.

“As a group of civil society organizations that were involved in the CSR Roundtables, we hope that the Centre for Excellence will provide a space for ongoing discussion between members of government, industry and civil society on issues related to the extractive sector, human rights and corporate accountability, and contribute to building a consensus around the implementation of best practices,” said Ian Thomson of KAIROS and chair of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, and member of the Centre for Excellence IEC.

Over time, the expectation is that the Centre will enable greater understanding of effective partnering, relationships and tools available for the extractive industry and various stakeholders alike, beyond what can be achieved without collaboration.

“The centre is a dynamic organism of diverse opinions, interests, experience and expertise that collectively has the ability to increase the impact of socially responsible mining practices within the Canadian mining industry,” said Lee Nehring, vice-president, sustainability and human resources, Xstrata Nickel, and member of the centre’s IEC. “The focus on the core elements of sustainability — engagement, performance, transparency and accountability — is what drives my participation in the development of the centre. I look forward to working with an ever-expanding network of individuals and sectors to make this centre useful and relevant to Canadian mining companies and the communities.”

The Centre for Excellence in CSR can be accessed at

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