CSR and Social Innovators Forum: Co-creating the Future Economy through Sustainability and Innovation

The Global Compact Network Singapore and Social Innovation Park have partnered this year to organise the CSR and Social Innovators Forum on 1 & 2 September 2016 at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. The forum was themed 'Co-creating the Future Economy through Sustainability and Innovation'. A total of 354 delegates from the People, Private and Public sectors attended the forum over the two days.

Background of Forum
Today, we see an emerging business sector whose aim goes beyond profit-making to addressing social, cultural and environmental issues in our communities. We term this sector the Social Enterprises (SEs). They have positioned Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the core of their businesses and leverage innovation as a tool to achieve their positive agendas. While SEs tend to be associated with small and medium enterprises and start-ups, we believe that multinational corporations also have the potential to transform their business models to ones that are more responsible, inclusive and purpose-driven. We foresee that the pairing of CSR and Social Innovation will play an important role in advancing the future economy locally and globally. It is against this backdrop that the Forum was conceived. We hope that through this event, more organisations will be inspired and also gather insights and knowledge to join us in creating responsible businesses that provide sustainable value.

The Forum
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The CSR & Social Innovators Forum included a conversation with DPM Tharman, five plenaries and six parallel sessions. It also featured three keynote speakers and 37 panellists.

The tone of the Forum was set with an opening address by the Guest-of- Honour, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies. He emphasised that the easiest way for companies to do good is to hire people with disabilities and that ground-up initiatives are crucial to building civic society. Other topics discussed on the first day focussed on conducting sustainable businesses and the elements that need to be in place e.g. financial systems, business goals etc.. In the final plenary for the day: Mainstreaming Sustainability to Create Business Values, Moderator Professor Annie Koh, Singapore Management University, aptly summarised the sessions on the first day in 5Cs: Communications, Collaboration, Capacity building, Community building and Compact. Mr Wilson Ang, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Singapore echoed her sentiments in his closing address for the first day.

Day two was largely devoted to the parallel sessions which included three Big Ideas Labs and three Master Classes. Each of these sessions catered to a smaller audience and encouraged greater interaction between the audience and speakers. In Big Ideas Lab 1: Shared Value and Social Innovation, Facilitator Mr Richard Welford, Chairman, CSR Asia shared interesting case studies of how companies around the world have invented imaginative approaches and products that both provide value to the local communities and generate profits. In Master Class 1: Design Thinking & System Change, participants were asked to get creative and design solutions to solving the food wastage problem in Singapore.

At the conclusion of the Forum, Ms Penny Low, Founder and President of Social Innovation Park extended her deepest appreciation to the organisers, speakers and audience. She also made a call to action for the audience to begin organising mindful collaborations amongst them to drive purposeful business.

Post-event Report
A detailed post-event report will be published on the Global Compact Network Singapore website. Please keep a lookout if you wish to have access to more highlights and findings at the forum. We hope all who attended had a meaningful time and we look forward to seeing you at our summit in