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Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility through Public Policy (COGITA)
Start date: Dec 31, 2011, End date: Dec 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis."In recent years, public entities have recognised CSR’s potential as organisational innovation to improve social conditions and promote regional development and competitiveness. However, positive socio-economic impacts are limited by lack of coordination. While CSR should incorporate both social and environmental elements, public policy is often divided into disconnected segments.COGITA groups 13 partners (PP) to improve public policy promoting CSR solutions, which combine social and environmental responsibility. Within this integrated concept, COGITA considers 5 sub-themes: raising CSR awareness and capacity; CSR in public procurement; CSR criteria in public funding; inter-firm collaboration / local supply chains; communication / branding.All PP have CSRexperience, though activities and levels of intensity vary. COGITA provides an opportunity to share these experiences, to identify and implement tools that public authorities, intermediaries and other public stakeholders can adapt and adopt in order to promote an integrated CSR approach in their territory.Within the context of promoting competitiveness through responsible behaviour, COGITA’s overall objective is to improve public policy to support uptake of an integrated concept of CSR in SMEs, with a view to promoting responsible and sustainable regional development and growth.The specific sub-objectives are to:• facilitate exchange among EU regions on good practices related to public policy for integrated CSR approaches in SMEs;• promote an integrated concept of CSR among public authorities and regional stakeholders, with a view to improving related policies and tools;• foster participative policy design and pave the way for effective policy implementation;• design and test theimplementation of an integrated CSR concept into public policy and instruments;• foster EU networking of public and private entities committed to promoting CSR.Project activities are divided into 4 components, each with an allocated leader. Management and Coordination (PP1) and Communication (PP8) support implementation of technical activities divided into exchange of experience (PP2) and feasibility checks on implementation of integrated CSR initiatives (PP3).COGITA improves 13 public policies and increases capacity of 39 partner staff members and 52 stakeholders, in addition to defining a model for integrated CSR policy. In the long term, COGITA increases effectiveness of regional policies on responsible economic development and organisation innovation, thus sustaining regional competitiveness. A multiplier effect is ensured through intense, targeted communication activities to other entities interested in promoting this form of responsible, innovative development. Achievements: COGITA officially began with its kick-off event in Krems (Lower Austria, 7-9 March 12). Since then, 2 further exchange events have been organised (Barcelona, 26-27 June 12; Limassol, 17-19 October 12 within activities for the Cypriot Presidency of the UE). In addition to management (C1) and communication (C2) issues, these events were dedicated to exchange on experiences, challenges and solutions in the field of public policy for integrated CSR. In Krems, partners also participated in a ½ day study visit to a regional enterprise, which applies social and environmentally responsible practices. 5 sub-groups have been created: CSR awareness raising / capacity building within SMEs (lead by PP4, Cyprus University of Technology); CSR incentives in public procurement (Lead by P5, Enterprise Flanders); CSR related criteria for awarding public funding for regional SMEs (Lead by P6, Birmingham City Council); Inter-firm collaboration / regional supply chains (Lead by P7, AUEB-RC); Communication / Branding (Lead by PP10, Agency for the Support of Regional Development Košice). The C3 coordinator (PP2 - Lower Austrian Government), together with the Lead Partner (CISE) and PP7 (AUEB-RC), have developed the COGITA concept paper, presenting the integrated approach to CSR and the criteria for selecting good practices (GP). The paper presents a conceptual framework, based on literature review and knowledge of regional policies, before presenting how COGITA intends to prove its starting hypothesis that: if public agencies undertake policies promoting an integrated CSR concept within SMEs, they contribute to achieving CSR and regional development goals, to fostering competitiveness of regional companies and to increasing regional welfare. The paper defines a COGITA-Matrix that covers: policy themes, policy instruments and CSR dimensions. It also presents a brief overview of the 5 selected sub themes, including details on the GPs identified until now. Finally, the paper presents a series of milestones to be reached and the relative tools that will be developed. On this basis, and working on common templates, partners have prepared regional SWOT analysis and identified 17 GPs. The SWOT analysis have been presented at exchange events, where partners provided comments and advice and identified areas of common interest or need. The 17 GPs have also been presented in detail during meetings (by partners and stakeholders) and a detailed description has been made available for all partners and for others from outside the consortium, who are interested in the theme. The C3 coordinator has provided an overall GP Report, detailing procedures, content and key issues. The final version is available for consultation. Working within the subgroups, partners have identified the key challenges for each sub-theme and initiated development of Fact Sheets that describe these challenges and match them to the GPs and other available solutions. Partners have identified members of their Regional Steering Committees (RSC), which will be involved in activities throughout the project and organised meetings. Members represent public authorities (national, regional and local), SMEs and SME representatives, associations and NGOs and others (e.g. large enterprises; banks). The exact composition depends on regional characteristics. Communication activities began with the creation of the project logo and website, publication of press releases following the meetings in Krems and Limassol, of the project brochure and of the first project newsletter (in electronic format, with a small number of printed copies). Partners have been involved in a series of activities at local, regional, national and EU level, including participation in events and press / media activities and in a conference in Cyprus, entitled CSR: Awareness and Transparency, organised within the framework of the EU Presidency.
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