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OISD launches new Brookes CSR/SRI network
The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) launched the new university-wide network on Corporate Socially Responsibility (CSR) and Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) on 18 February 2008. This is one of eight new cross-cutting research themes being developed at Brookes.
The launch presentation by Prof. Tim Dixon (Director of OSID) and Dr Samantha Miles (Business School) focused on the history of CSR/SRI and the importance of CSR in the property and construction sector.
Property (or real estate) is responsible for about 40% of carbon emissions and 30% of waste materials in the UK. The UK real estate sector (comprising developers, property companies and financial institutions with real estate investments), through its involvement in urban regeneration and the development of 'sustainable communities', also has an important impact on people's lives, jobs and wellbeing. Over the last 5 years the sector has therefore focused increasingly on the sustainable development agenda, which seeks to ensure that real estate is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.
At the same time, companies are under increasing pressure to ensure that they are fully accountable to shareholders for their actions and the way in which they engage with key stakeholders. Although accounting for sustainability is currently a voluntary activity, the Turnbull report, UK Company Law Review and related guidance from organisations such as Association of British Insurers means that companies are increasingly reporting their social and environmental performance. This has also evolved in the context of the 'mainstreaming' of the twin concepts of CSR and SRI, and through an increased focus on FTSE4Good companies. CSR involves the incorporation of social, environmental and governance (to internal and external stakeholders) into these systems and processes, whereas SRI involves the combination of social, environmental, governance and financial goals in the application of capital i.e. the actual investment process. In other words CSR is concerned with 'how the company conducts itself in the community and the environments it touches' whereas SRI is about 'the manner in which an investor applies its capital'.
Despite this, there has so far been little co-ordinated research which has attempted to bring a multidisciplinary approach, combining the real estate and business disciplines, to research in the field in the real estate sector, or to link the existing research work in an international context.
Aims of the network
The related objectives are to: