"Corporate responsibility is a necessity not a luxury," said the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Transport Robin Edme. He was a guest of honour at the second forum on corporate social responsibility, which the company Capital Link organized in Athens. Edme noted that the most serious problem in creating long term sustainable development practices is their funding. Investors in capital markets are not yet ready to have more confidence in projects related to sustainable development. Sustainable practices can be funded by corporate responsibility resources. "This is an investment process that is based on environmental, social and public criteria to achieve a good result," explained the minister. He emphasized that the ultimate goal of all social oriented corporate initiatives is to change the business model by implementing sustainable and responsible corporate management measures.
When making a fund to raise capital from corporate policies we cannot exclude any sector however unpopular it may be in the public mind, says Edme. The French Minister explained that if the tobacco companies, companies manufacturing armaments or even companies in the pornography business are willing to support any of these funds within the corporate responsibility, their funds must be accepted. Edme paid more attention not to the origin of these funds but to how they are managed. He explained that these type of financial funds cannot operate on the principle of speculation and they must be managed in a sustainable and appropriate manner, without burdening certain social or economic groups.
"Currently, the environmental issue in Greece is particularly acute. There are different voices speaking about corporate responsibility - from Hellenic Petroleum to Athens airport. They all say what they have done under corporate responsibility programmes but we should see what lies behind those words," Panagiotis Christodoulakis, chairman of the Pan-Hellenic centre of environmental research, expressed his discontent. He gave the example of the problems with Hellenic Petroleum refineries close to which (in his words) there are 300 thousand cubic metres of oil waste. "To talk about corporate responsibility, it must first be observed by companies that are not interested only in their profits, but really pay attention to the social nature of their activity," concluded Christodoulakis.
Greek architect Alexandros Samaras spoke of the need of establishing architectural social responsibility to bind developers and contractors of construction projects to the best and sustainable practices in architecture. "We should not choose the cheapest projects, but those that ensure the longevity of the building." He stressed that this sector can play an important role in security and can socially favour society. Samaras’ architect studio had made free of charge the project for the bridge at the college in Psychico, which was built after the death of the young pupil Solon Karidakis. He was struck by a car after trying to cross the street on his way to a party with his classmates. "Given the special place architecture takes in the quality of life and in our society, the architectural social responsibility is very important for improving the environment in modern times." Besides the social nature of architectural activities, companies should pay attention to projects’ quality, sustainability and appropriateness, the expert stressed.
Konstantinos Bakouris, the head of the non-government organization Transparency International Greece said that in recent years, Greek society has become more sensitive to issues of corruption and lack of transparency. Recent polls show an increase in the number of households signalling cases of corruption in both the private and public sectors. "The private sector plays a major role in the lack of transparency - one in five employees considers the bribe to be an acceptable way to achieve a corporate goal," said Konstantinos Bakouris. He stressed that because of the crisis, he cannot expect much from the public sector. The head of the non-government organization believes that private companies will bear the brunt of the country emerging from the crisis. "Greek entrepreneurship must convince society that it is able to cope with this task and the initiatives within the programmes for corporate social responsibility will help to improve the image of local businesses."