A tool for sustainable development in the Middle East
Sustainable economic development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will depend on job creation, education, poverty alleviation, and careful environmental management. Government, civil society organizations, and academic institutions should all be involved in this effort. Companies have a particularly important role to play. They must be involved and contribute to the betterment of the societies in which they operate. They can do this through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that align with national development objectives in areas as diverse as affordable housing, educating women, and conserving water.
Although CSR is a complex undertaking, made the more challenging by the fact that it is a relatively new concept for the region, such projects are entirely within the capabilities of MENA region companies. To illustrate what companies are doing and how CSR can meaningfully contribute to regional development, we have conducted extensive interviews and drawn on our work with CSR leaders in the Middle East. This research seeks to deﬁne what CSR means in the MENA region; study how CSR is practiced; identify best practices among CSR leaders, such as leveraging the strength of institutions and improving corporate governance; and propose how to build the corporate capacity for sustainable CSR practices with the help of governments, civil society organizations, and academia.