The FINANCIAL — BP is investing several million USD every year in sustainable development programmes. The volume of its investments in CSR will total approximately USD 3 million in 2012.
The FINANCIAL — BP is investing several million USD every year in sustainable development programmes. The volume of its investments in CSR will total approximately USD 3 million in 2012. “Being a responsible business is one of the key aspects of our operations worldwide,” Rusudan Medzmariashvili, Head of the CSR department at BP, told The FINANCIAL.
“In addition to our core activities in Georgia we aim to bring lasting benefits to the country through our sustainable development initiative with a focus on the areas that we know best. Apart from community focus the programmes are also directed towards nationwide projects in support of enterprise development in the country as well as the energy efficiency sphere. We put sustainability at the core of everything that we do.
Projects aimed at having a sustainable impact include community development programmes along the three BP operated pipelines in Georgia with a focus on empowering communities, supporting agriculture and SME development, as well as empowering youth and raising environmental awareness. We are concentrating on 77 communities along the South Caucasus gas Pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline route and more than 200 communities along the Baku-Supsa Pipeline. We partner with the national NGOs, who act as implementing partners in our community development programs.
Since 2003 we have worked intensively with the community based organizations established within the framework of community development initiative along the South Caucasus gas Pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline. We helped building their capacity through implementation of different infrastructure projects, building their management, and fundraising skills .
Another direction of our community programs is supporting income-generating activities in several directions including agriculture and SME support. Community development program works with interested framers to provide necessary consultancy and skills training as well as assisting them in marketing of their produce. The program also involves raising awareness of community members in managing small businesses and assisting them in establishing business start-ups in their communities. We also support them in finding additional financing to make their businesses sustainable.
In summer 2012 we completed a programme aimed at youth capacity building along the Baku-Supsa pipeline. As a result they mastered leadership and project management skills, and improved awareness of environmental issues. Within the framework of the program youth groups had a chance to implement small environmental protection projects and use the knowledge in practice. As a result they received life-long skills training and got acquainted with the issues related to protection of the environment.
Other initiatives include nationwide projects aimed at making a positive contribution towards improving the business climate in the country and raising energy efficiency awareness. These projects include: establishment of a project management college in partnership with the Free University of Georgia and ESI international, which has benefited around 200 professionals from different businesses and which continues to provide both project management and program management courses; Other examples include Georgia Food Safety Improvement Project with IFC and the Austrian Ministry of Finance, Energy Efficiency Programme for Communities with the Union Energy Efficiency Centre, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project.
One of the directions of our intervention in future may include supporting technical education in Georgia since the gap assessment that we did couple of years ago identified the shortage of technicians in the country.
Q. What are the concrete results of your CSR activities at BP?
A. First of all it has a positive impact on the reputation of the company which results in the confidence of our customers, investors, and neighbouring communities that we do our business in a transparent and responsible way. On the ground It results in the improved operating environment, helps us in building and maintaining good will of our customers and neighbouring communities that is crucial for our safe and secure operations in the country.
Q. CSR incorporates several important directions. From your point of view, which is the most important for Georgian business and the country itself?
A. TO be a responsible business the company should consider all aspects of CSR, rather than concentrating on a single direction. CSR should lie at the core of company’s strategic vision and should take into consideration not only the company’s interests, but the environment it operates in –i.e. country priorities.
Q. Why should small and medium businesses implement CSR activities too?
A. From the CSR perspective there is no difference between big or small companies. In its wider meaning CSR involves such important areas of a company’s operations as compliance to local and international regulations and laws, protection of the environment, relationships with customers and contractors, development of its own staff and the creation of a favourable working environment. These are the areas that any business has to address in order to be successful. And if addressed in a proper way they will certainly create favourable conditions for business development.