Through two projects supported by the NGO Program in Poland, Norwegian organizations have helped raise awareness of organizations, companies and decision makers in Poland about corporate social responsibility (CSR)and sustainable development.

The projects were initiated by CentrumCSR.PL in Poland, and joined by The Norwegian Veritas in Poland (Det Norske Veritas i Polen) and the Ethical Trade Initiative (Initiativ for Etisk Handel) from Norway. 200 of the largest companies in Poland were followed up for CSR activities over 18 months. The goal has been to expand the CSR field of activity in Poland as well as to increase the quality of information that companies publish about CSR. A special focus was directed at state-owned enterprises as well as at standards for public procurement. The projects have resulted in reports on CSR relevant topics such as human rights, dialogue with decision makers and the fight against corruption, open debates, workshops and conferences.

“The round tables, during which we encouraged the implementation of social and environmental standards, were attended by over 100 people, including representatives of public offices, universities, employers’ organizations and trade unions” said Marta Czapnik from CenterCSR.PL.


Marta Czapnik under en workshop. Foto: CentrumCSR.PL

“We sent lists of interventions to institutions in which we asked difficult questions like “Why not use non-price criteria in specific types of acquisitions?” For two years we checked almost 2 thousand procurements, our project had a wide resonance in the media – sa Grzegorz Piskalski, direktør for CentrumCSR.PL. “We know that people who have so far completely ignored the social and environmental criteria, have now begun using them. Many of them have asked us how to do it, so we have offered them our expertise.”

Ethical Trade Initiative arranged for a study trip for the Polish partner CentrumCSR.PL and representatives from other Polish organizations that CenterCSR.PL cooperates with. During the trip, the Polish delegation met a number of Norwegian actors working with CSR, promoting sustainable development in new, innovative ways. The visitors drew examples from DIFI, Norwegian ForUM for Development and Environment (Norsk ForUM for Utvikling og Miljø), Changemaker and BI.


Foto: CentrumCSR.PL

The meeting with the organization Changemaker lead to further collaboration. Changemaker volunteers were invited to workshops in Poland to introduce Norwegian campaign methods to promote sustainable development to Polish organizations and other interested parties.

“They wanted contact with us after hearing about us through the Ethical Trade Initiative. We arranged a meeting at our offices in connection with their study trip and exchanged experiences about our work. Shortly thereafter, we were invited by them to contribute with lectures at a workshop they arranged in Warsaw “said Diego Vaula Foss from Changemaker.


Fra workshop i Warszawa. Foto: CentrumCSR.PL

Diego continued by saying that the invitation gave them a good opportunity to exchange experiences. Changemaker works partly with overlapping topics, but in different contexts. Therefore, the cooperation was beneficial for both parties. “We received interesting information about work with public procurement, a topic we have worked little with, but which may be relevant to us. At the same time, it was a useful experience for our volunteers who travelled to Poland to present our work and methodology for groups working in another context “.

“For us, such bilateral cooperation provides first and foremost useful experiences that can give us new perspectives on our work while at the same time spreading our working methods and expertise to other organizations. We are often selective when we receive such invitations, as we find that cooperation is only fruitful when there is a closeness between our work and the work of those who contact us. It was in this case and then there was an exciting opportunity for us, ” concluded Diego.