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Centre for Social Markets (CSM)

Centre for Social Markets (CSM)

April 2010: The Centre for Social Markets (CSM) is an independent, non-profit organisation founded in 2000 by social entrepreneur, Malini Mehra, to accelerate the transition to more just and sustainable societies. Their focus is on making markets work for the ‘triple bottom line’: people, planet and profit.

This is challenging but essential and through offices in India and the UK - and an international network of partners and associates – CSM actively engages with business to promote a purposeful social, environmental and ethical agenda.

CEO, Malini Mehra, says, “At CSM, we don’t work on single issues, we have a holistic vision of change that integrates concern for our natural world with universal human rights. At present our three primary programme areas are Corporate Responsibility, Climate Change, and India as a Global Player. These may seem disparate but they are strongly interconnected and mainstream our commitment to democratic values, environmental integrity and gender equity.”

In its early years, CSM pioneered awareness-raising on corporate responsibility in India with a stress on domestic business and industry. By focussing on homegrown companies and not just western multinationals they were able to foster a corporate culture more conducive to ‘triple bottom line’ outcomes.

CSM’s other key constituency was the influential Diaspora of more than 20 million people of Indian origin overseas – many of them traders and entrepreneurs who formed the backbone of entire economies were key to a value change.

In the U.K. in 2001, CSM launched the country’s first national initiative to engage British Asians in corporate citizenship. Under the banner ‘British Asians: Building Leadership for Corporate Citizenship’, the campaign took the message of corporate responsibility to every major city in England, Wales and Scotland with a large South Asian population. The objective was to use corporate citizenship as an entry point to a more fundamental social engagement and integration effort on the part of this successful, but still only partly-integrated immigrant community.

Mehra says: “At CSM, we see our role as acting as a catalyst and thought leader on key social and sustainability challenges of the day. As a small organisation, we are committed to partnerships and actively reach out to others to build synergies and magnify our impact.”

This concern with social inclusion extends to issues such as gender. As a largely female-run organisation, CSM take a strong interest in gender issues and actively works to promote gender equity through its various programmes, employment policies and everyday actions. Malini Mehra explains, “Addressing discrimination is not an academic issue for us. It is fundamental to our outlook. As an advocacy organisation, we have to ensure there is congruency between our external advocacy and our internal practices – to practice what we preach. We therefore have strong anti-discrimination policies in place on issues such as minority rights, disability and sexual orientation – areas where India’s record continues to be poor.” CSM is also working to develop carbon neutral policies for the entire organisation to manage its own carbon and resource footprint. This social and environmental vision is integrated into CSM’s programme work such as their programme with the International Labour Organisation on a guide to Dalit rights.

Climate change is currently CSM’s main focus. The subject matter is not new to CSM as Mehra explains, “This isn’t jumping on bandwagon stuff. In 2001, at a time when climate change was barely a term that was understood in India, we held the country’s first carbon-neutral international conference to create awareness about dangerous climate change.” In 2007, the organisation took on climate change as an issue desperately in need of leadership in India and launched the country’s first dedicated national mobilisation campaign, Climate Challenge India, to promote a positive, pro-active domestic agenda on climate change. The campaign engaged business elites, city leaders, decision-makers, NGOs and opinion formers. At the end of 2007, the campaign was recognised as one of the world’s top five campaigns on climate change and profiled at the UN climate conference in Bali.

CSM has subsequently worked with Al Gore and his team on India issues and advised a range of political leaders on the new climate agenda for India. They have also developed a number of innovative platforms for business leadership on climate change issues – including broadcast programmes in India.

In May 2009, CSM launched its film, ‘In Good Company’, profiling corporate leadership on climate change in India at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

As a public service organisation, they have also produced a series of resources on the subject ranging from a ‘Who’s Who in Climate Change in India’, to films, publications, and the country’s first portal on climate change.

Mehra encapsulates their work in a nutshell saying, “At CSM, we do not typecast ourselves, we work across niches and boundaries with a range of players to inspire new models of change and to be effective change agents ourselves. We educate, mobilise, push boundaries and make possible new spaces for debate and action on sustainability issues. We also try and keep a worms-eye and birds-eye perspective on our work.”

To find out more about CSM’s work, and how you can support it, please visit:

www.csmworld.org and www.climatechallengeindia.org
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