Turning Global Challenges into Collaborative Solutions: BSR’s Collaborative Initiatives

February 14, 2017
  • Angie Farrag-Thibault

    Former Director, Collaborative Initiatives and Transport and Logistics, BSR

  • Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen

    Former Senior Vice President, BSR

Since being founded 25 years ago, BSR has had a consistent focus on uniting the business community and its stakeholders in collaborative initiatives that co-create solutions to systemic business and sustainability challenges. Today, we’re engaging more than 200 companies in 20-plus initiatives, covering a wide range of sectors and issues—from clean fuel for commercial road freight to ethical practices in luxury-industry value chains. And BSR had a hand in developing several well-known initiatives that today operate as independent organizations.

With the continuous efforts of our members and stakeholders, this collaborative work generates concrete positive outcomes for business, societies, and the environment through sharing best practices, changing business norms, and driving collective, sustainable solutions. For example:

  • The Healthcare Working Group has developed the Guiding Principles on Access to Healthcare, through which CEOs of 13 major pharmaceutical companies have framed their efforts to reduce the global burden of disease by helping ensure that medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and other medical technology and assistance are effectively developed and deployed.
  • Through the Future of Internet Power, more than 20 technology companies have committed to sourcing 100 percent renewable energy for their data centers.
  • Companies in the Responsible Luxury Initiative have developed and adopted a set of high-level principles for the sourcing of leather, fur, and exotic skins.
  • The Clean Cargo Working Group continues to provide a leading industry platform for promoting responsible shipping, as well as reliable year-on-year emissions performance data from 23 of the world’s leading ocean carriers that represent approximately 85 percent of global ocean container capacity.
  • The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, now with more than 80 corporate members, is working with governments, local authorities, and civil society stakeholders around the world to improve the transparency, efficiency, and integrity of business operations at global trading hubs. 

Commitment to Transformative Change

The growth and impact of these initiatives demonstrate a clear desire among companies and stakeholders for coordinated action—but we’re convinced that we can go even further to drive truly transformative change. Last year, the United Nations reinforced this message with the inclusion of the 17th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which recognizes that the other 16 goals will only be achieved through “partnership that brings together governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system, and other actors and mobilizes all available resources.”  

This year, we are strengthening BSR’s capacity to convene business and stakeholders to develop and scale collaborative initiatives that overcome the challenges the SDGs present. We will seek to radically evolve our capacity to drive transformative change through collaborative initiatives, using the following principles for success:

  • Collaboration requires meticulous management: We’ll strengthen our operational capabilities, such as communication, technology, governance, and administration platforms.
  • Impact requires scale: We’ll strengthen and scale our existing Collaborative Initiatives through several approaches, including by partnering more effectively with stakeholders, funders, and governments.
  • Innovation requires multistakeholder involvement: We’ll employ inclusive and interactive innovation processes to incubate and develop new collaborative initiatives.

This work will build on our platform of key initiatives that tackle systemic challenges, and we will actively engage with our members to ensure that the new collaborations address their business needs, as well as drive positive societal and environmental change. This includes reaching out to our network to understand which issues our members and partners most want solved, as well as hosting a series of multi-day, multistakeholder workshops focused on systemic challenges and new ideas for collaboration.

Look out for further opportunities to engage as we build out this key element of BSR’s business leadership strategy for a just and sustainable world.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll highlight outcomes and impacts from BSR collaborations in a social media campaign—follow @BSRnews—and on the BSR blog.  


Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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