In 2010, CSR LEBANON became the first institution in Lebanon to believe, participate and invest in the UN Global Compact on the domestic level. We have since been leading a national movement to foster this global initiative in Lebanon, investing considerable time and effort, connections, friends, and financial resources towards empowering private corporations to join one of the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiatives and comply with the UNGC’s 10 internationally recognized principles.
Our Journey with the Global Compact started on May 18th, 2010 when the UNGC chose The First CSR LEBANON FORUM as a platform to address Lebanon’s private sector for the first time ever through its former Executive Director, Mr. Georg Kell, who urged Lebanese businesses to join the UNGC ranks and support CSR LEBANON mission.
Later that same year, Mr. Khaled Kassar, Founder & CEO of CSR LEBANON, represented Lebanon at the Global Compact Leaders’ Summit at the UN headquarter in New York. He then dedicated his efforts to organize a series of events, media campaigns, and road shows to advocate and promote sustainability and the 10 principles of the Global Compact in Lebanon during 2010 - 2011.
On December 7th, 2012, the UN Global Compact recognized Mr. Kassar for his efforts in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in the country by officially appointing him as its focal point-of-contact in Lebanon.
Mr. Kassar was entrusted with a challenging mission during very difficult times: to invite Lebanese corporations to join the Global Compact in order to pave the way for the launch of the GC Local Network in Lebanon at a time when the country was facing political uncertainties, security threats, assassinations, car bombing, economic instability and the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
With the support of the dedicated CSR LEBANON team, Mr. Kassar hosted the Global Compact at CSR LEBANON offices in Beirut (from December 2012 till March 2015). In appreciation for his personal and voluntary efforts and to support his primary mission of recruiting new corporate participants, the Global Compact partnered with the Third CSR LEBANON FORUM on March 18th, 2013, where Mr. Georg Kell delivered an opening speech in Beirut (all details can be found in issue No.6 of Responsible Business Quarterly Review).
Capitalizing on the Forum’s success, Mr. Kassar, with the support of the CSR LEBANON team, reached out to more than 200 of the most prominent chairmen, general managers and CEOs of top banks and corporations in Lebanon inviting them to join the Global Compact. CSR LEBANON succeeded in inspiring, motivating and encouraging 25 new participants to get on board; an 88% increase since 2010, the highest number ever in an Arab country when accounting for Lebanon’s GDP, population, and number of private sector corporations. Notably all bank participants in the Local Network joined as a result of CSR LEBANON’s efforts.
On September 30th, 2014, CSR LEBANON organized and hosted the first ever gathering and workshop for Global Compact participants in Lebanon, and invited them to join the then-emerging Local Network steering committee based on the governance guidelines set by the Global Compact.
The guidelines favor the establishment of a business-led GC local Network in any country. Yet, the lack of current interest from independent business associations that were invited to host the local GC network, led CSR LEBANON to recommend either the American University of Beirut (a recent participant of the Global Compact since October 22nd, 2014) or the Beirut Arab University (a participant since February 2nd, 2011) as host institutions of the GC Local Network.
Months before his resignation, Mr. Georg Kell sent a thank you letter to Mr. Khaled Kassar endorsing his efforts in promoting and establishing the GC in Lebanon and informing him about the organization’s decision to choose AUB as the new host of the GC Local Network given the financial and logistical facilities that the university could offer.
With the establishment of the GC Local Network, we believe that our efforts over the past five years have materialized and that the mission we were entrusted with was successfully accomplished