What are key trends in the field of CSR in 2017 and what are the opportunities for my company/organization? Last Thursday afternoon, more than 50 CSR practitioners and company representatives gathered at the Naked Hub in Shanghai to explore the answers to the questions, under the umbrella of European Chamber in collaboration with German Chamber Business and Society Workshop.

While changes on the world stage and in the international leadership bring uncertainty, however, the 14 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations set clear priorities and direction: these indicators can be evaluated by corporates to plan their CSR activities around, as Dr. Guo Peiyuan, Founder and General Manager of Syntao, said in his speech.

In terms of compliance and risk management, the new Foreign NGO Law is reshaping the landscape of philanthropy.  Big companies are facing more pressure on the disclosure of information and the ethical consequence of internet and new technologies also catches people’s attention.

Moving to partnership between corporates and social organizations, Syntao emphasized this year on the partnership between business and business in the same value chain and encourage the internal collaboration of CSR activities with different company functions such as R&D and account management. Poverty alleviation will also offer new project ideas for companies who want to have stronger collaboration with Chinese government.

Green consumption, green finance also frame the strategic context for the CSR development this year; social media is acting as a crucial channel in the communication of CSR activities and will even take on a bigger role.

The new opportunities, challenges and resource needed for CSR activities in 2017 were shared among the participants in groups, with the facilitation of Magali Menant, Co-founder of CONSTELLATIONS and Roy Zhang, leader of the European Chamber CSR Forum. Children and education are key foci of CSR activities as showed a pooling among the participants, together with climate change, inclusion and business-society connection.

As identified during the discussion, the key opportunity for the industry lies in moving from donation and charity activities to more strategic CSR and aligning responsibility across operations to the core of the business.  There is a need to communicate good CSR practices and green products, and empowering people with shared value. These, meanwhile, are also the challenges that participants are facing – to fully communicate, to get away from pure charity, to engage with different stakeholders and to link better CSR with the business vision. Jointly discussed by the participants, the future of CSR need support with cross-industry cooperation, innovative ideas towards sustainability, engagement with the leadership team as well as with employees and the support from the government in terms of laws and regulations.

The Business & Society Workshop is a regular series that started in 2013 by CONSTELLATIONS Founder Katja Hellkoetter on a voluntary mandate by the German Chamber board and continued by CONSTELLATIONS’ co-founder Magali Menant since 2016. The initiative “MORE THAN A MARKET” is an outcome of this activity, kicked off in 2015.