Focus on a Partner: Interview with The Association for Responsible Business of Lithuania (LAVA)

We recently caught up with The Association for Responsible Business of Lithuania (LAVA), our new National Partner Organisation, about the latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) trends in Lithuania and the reasons for joining CSR Europe’s network. 

1. When was LAVA founded, what triggered it and why have you decided to join the network of national partners?

Since 2005, The National Network for Responsible Business (the Local UN Global Compact Network) acted as an informal organisation facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme. When the UNDP ended its activities in Lithuania, the network became the Responsible Business Association of Lithuania (LAVA) in August 2013. The main reason for the establishment of a formal organisation was the willingness to develop and mobilise network members for common activities, develop projects and mainstream CSR in Lithuania. By joining CSR Europe, LAVA expects to create better opportunities for exchanging ideas and to forge lasting partnerships for sustainable development.

2. Could you tell us more about CSR trends in Lithuania? 

Corporate responsibility has grown substantially both as a concept and practice in the past years in Lithuania. In 2015, the Baltic CSR Survey, called “Comparing state of CSR in Baltics and Finland”, showed that 68 % of companies consider CSR to be very important for their company. More than two thirds of the survey respondents believe that the importance of CSR will increase in the near future as will the spending for CSR activities. CSR is seen as a facilitating factor for innovation and development of new products, increasing client satisfaction and reducing negative environmental impacts. Good labour practice is the most pressing and important issue among companies involved in CSR.

3. Countries often create greater impact through collaboration – what kind of collaboration do you hope to find in CSR Europe’s network?

Collaboration is a key precondition for sustainability and CSR Europe’s network provides a wide range of partnership opportunities – among which we hope to find the best ones. LAVA is looking for partnerships that are seeking to identify country-level sustainability indexes, looking for an innovative way to raise awareness on CSR and sustainability among different interest groups and stakeholders.  LAVA has interesting business collaboration experiences in several fields of CSR, for instance collaborating with NGOs – and we are ready to share it.

4. What are you currently working on and why?

One of the main issues LAVA is involved in 2015-16 is the elaboration of a national CSR strategy together with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour and other stakeholders. 

LAVA is working on strengthening business sustainability through sharing CSR practices within the project ‘Baltic States benchmark: Swedish advocacy on CSR’ (co-financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers) together with CSR Latvia and CSR Sweden. We will also elaborate another important issue – business transparency and anticorruption; in cooperation with Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania we will develop an Anticorruption Guide for Business. Moreover, LAVA is actively participating in the transposition process of the EU directive on Non-Financial Reporting.

5. CSR Europe just hosted the Enterprise 2020 Summit – what are your hopes for a sustainable world in 2016?

Creating a sustainable world is a vision. Let us hope 2016 will be a transitional year when we stop pretending to do CSR and really try to assess the business impact, and understand that there is no successful business without satisfied community members and a flourishing environment.

CSR is a constantly evolving concept as we are living in unique and complex environments. Therefore, we do hope more stakeholders will unify the efforts towards better lives.

LAVA’s strategic session in June 2015, in the Open-Air Museum of the Centre of Europe, close to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.

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