Dubai: The Ministry of Economy on Wednesday clarified that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is voluntary for the private companies, following its announcement on Tuesday about the 11 CSR initiatives this year.

As a correction, the ministry said that its new CSR Track will be implemented on a voluntary basis and is not obligatory for corporations.

“The CSR Mandatory Disclosure included in the Track obligates only reporting of contributions if any voluntarily by corporations. Moreover, the aforementioned mandatory disclosure will be limited to large corporations, which will be identified in a clear legislative regulation list,” read an official statement from the ministry.

The ministry is disseminating these points in the spirit of transparency to prevent any misunderstanding or inconvenience and guide the public accordingly, it added.

The ministry also clarified there will be no announcement regarding a specific percentage of funds to be allocated to CSR by companies in the private sector.

Currently, many private companies in the UAE allocate up to two per cent of funds to CSR, however, meeting this percentage is not mandatory, confirmed the ministry.

Companies will be required to declare their audited CSR accounts to the ministry and at the economic department upon licence renewal. Carrying out CSR initiatives is not a requirement for licence renewal, confirmed the ministry.

Year of Giving

The CSR programme is one of six main themes of the UAE’s National Strategy, which aims to encourage all companies to play a role in charitable and humanitarian work.

The 11 CSR initiatives announced on Tuesday are set to develop a supportive and stimulating environment for companies to invest in social responsibility.

Among the initiatives is the establishment of the National CSR Index, which will rank entities in the country based on CSR spending, and the launch of ‘CSR Label’ and ‘CSR Passport,’ which will be awarded to the five most outstanding companies in the field of CSR.

Registration on a CSR website will be available to all companies in the private sector starting July 2017.

Response from organisations

Gulf News spoke with several companies in the private sector about their CSR activities and their plans for the rest of the year.

Among various CSR initiatives carried out by Etisalat in the last five months is the Etisalat mobile charging units, which contain slots with digital locks. The units are placed in public areas including Al Twar Centre, Al Manar Centre, Al Kifaf Centre, Zabeel Park and Creek Park.

“In line with the government strategy for 2017, the year of giving, Etisalat CSR has come up with an initiative that aims to keep people connected and reachable even when their mobile device goes out of battery,” said Etisalat.

Meanwhile, Dubai Carbon’s CSR initiatives are focused on tackling the issue of food waste management.

“Our vision is simple — transform food waste and organics into a fuel source and decentralise waste management to the communities, allowing them to manage the economic value of resource recovery, thus making the communities compete and compare, while avoiding unnecessary costs and resources,” said Ivano Ianelli, CEO of Dubai Carbon.

Their second CSR initiative is a social experiment, which focuses on understanding lifestyle habits of the general public in Ramadan. The study is gathering information needed to evaluate consumption patterns, resource efficiency and waste management by requiring consumers to provide data on domestic waste they create, as well as on transportation, electricity and water.

The aim of the initiative is to create a tool through tracking consumption patterns, to educate and seed the idea of changing daily habits to being more energy efficient and reducing waste while ensuring financial benefits.

“In the near future, we will be launching a new initiative called ‘Safaqat’. It is a green accelerator based on the concept of crowdsourcing, which is meant to accelerate the penetration of green services into the community. Through this, we are aiming at providing solar kits to residential buildings so that they can be a part of making Dubai a more sustainable city,” said Ianelli.

Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) has also approved 12 programmes to provide 27 social and humanitarian initiatives earlier this year, in support of the Year of Giving.

The initiatives will be implemented in cooperation with prominent and international humanitarian organisations. Among the initiatives is the ‘Risalt Khair’ programme, which supports international relief efforts, educational programmes, and infrastructure development projects in poor countries.

Another Dewa CSR initiative is the ‘Ghars Al Khair’ project, which will provide hydroponic greenhouses to reduce water consumption by up to 80 per cent with proceeds from the sales of agriculture produce going to charity.