The just transition – the decalogue of the CSR rules for cities
In the light of these considerations, it is important to initiate the topic of the responsibility of the cities towards the approaching changes and ascertain the collection of the most important questions, concerning the strategic attitude and the planning of this process on the local level – the definition of the CSR rules for the socially responsible cities.
What is CSR?
For the narrowing semantic area translation of the English name, in Poland the term of corporate social responsibility – CSR is often being referred to only to the business sector. This allows assuming that the local communities and towns are only passive recipients of the companies' activities. In practice, a more precise term would be „corporative social responsibility” or „collective social responsibility”. Such designations mean the social responsibility of a certain group of people, incorporating to realize specific tasks, which remains open for all members of a community.
Meanwhile, the way of its definition depends on the accepted perspective. CSR referred to the tasks, serving the realization of public foals in the social or environmental area, concerns also local self-government, public sector entities, NGO sector, and also (actively and passively) whole local communities.
The building of a CSR strategy is associated with the need of possessing a common system of values and the ability of their extraction, on which the realization of the strategy will be based. Among these values, the most often enumerated are responsiveness, cooperation, and partnership, engagement to the realization of accepted rules, charity and fairness, integrity, and displayed initiative in favor of the natural environment. On the distinguished values of certain collectivity, in the tight connection with the development strategy, the CSR policy and the programs and system of its implementation is habituated. The important aspects are honesty of intention, responsibility, and the long perspective of undertaken goals. The CSR strategy remains in connection with the resources, environment, and market, which is important also concerning the private sector, public dimension, and the local communities.
The common responsibility of administration, self-government, territory, or the socially responsible policy appears also recently in Polish public life and also in science. It refers mainly to the areas led by self-governments social policy – the most important tool of the CSR used in municipalities. Within its limits, the employments, housing, educational, health, cultural, family, public safety, preventive, and social security policies are considered. Meanwhile, the activity of self-government can include also: the mechanisms of entrepreneurship support, innovativeness, or the realized in cities policy for environmental and climate protection.
The just transition – the role of cities in the process
The just transition is a mechanism of support of the process of moving away from coal in the mining regions, which is an element of programming and financing of the green transition in the European Union. The mentioned process, whose purpose is a support for the mining regions, strives for achieving the most important goal of the European Green Deal which is the transition to the fully neutral for the climate, green and circular economy2. The just transition is to support the development of the regions and communities affected the most by the negative consequences of the changes connected to the low emission transformation3, the so-called coal regions.
In Poland, the just transition is subject to programming on the state and regional level, nevertheless, both positive and negative consequences of the transformation will be felt directly on the local level – in cities, towns, and communes. We know the examples of Polish cities, which up till now, for 30 years of self-governance in the country, haven't regained their former brilliance after the transformation of the heavy industry from the 90' of the 20th century. For example, in Bytom or Wałbrzych some districts require revitalization in connection with poverty and social exclusion.
If according to the assumptions, the just transition is to prevent a similar situation, it should include all the most important actors and protect the weaker individuals. The analysis is being made of the transformation on the local level, for example, the changes on the local job market, the situation of the business units, the social situation in the municipality, or the economical situation of the inhabitants. The authorities of the city also possess certain tools, enabling the stimulation of the directional changes in the economy, for example ensuring the conditions for the creation of the new entities in the green branches. The range of the possible activity of self-government remains in the tight relation to CSR. In Poland supplying the common needs of a community remains with the commune, also thanks to the realization of the tasks in4: social assistance, public order and security, public education, environmental and nature protection, providing electricity, heating, and gas or animating citizens' activity. With a city of the rights of the country remains among others the tasks in public education at the secondary level in the technical professions, social assistance, preventing unemployment and activation on the job market or the protection of nature and environment. The inhabitants, through voting in local elections, give local authorities the mandate to decide on their matters.
The acts on commune and county self-government indirectly constitute the position of self-government in the process of the just transition. Depending on the attitude of the local authorities it can become an active participant influencing the shape of changes or a passive recipient of the disadvantageous, social, and economical consequences of these changes. For the local authorities will deal in the first place with the potential discontent of citizens and the loss of trust, the choice of the attitude towards the just transition should not cause doubts.
The areas of the interfusion of the CSR and the just transition on the city level
The areas of the just transition and the CSR are the same. The CSR strategies concern comprehensively the three spheres: economical, social, and environmental (podejście Triple Bottom Line approach)5, in other words, the areas, which the European Commission accepted as a foundation of reflection about the just transition. The same in the case of the CSR and the just transition is also the engagement of a community in the process of changes, which in the case of the energy transition includes the aspect of building of the civic society. Self-government is an institution that should accept in the social surrounding the attitude of an engaged and participating institution, regardless of the strategy of action which it will accept. If we refer the CSR concept to the public sector, it can be used with success to implement the just transition in cities.
The CSR rules for the cities covered by the just transition
Author: Klaudia Plac, Krajowy Ośrodek Zmian Klimatu IOŚ-PIB
1https://www.unido.org/our-focus/advancing-economic-competitiveness/competitive-trade-capacities-and-corporate-responsibility/corporate-social-responsibility-market-integration/what-csr (dostęp: 04.02.2021 r.)
2https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/actions-being-taken-eu/just-transition-mechanism_en (dostęp: 05.02.2021 r.)
3Polityka Energetyczna Polski do 2040 r. Streszczenie, Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska
4Ustawa z dnia 8 marca 1990 r. o samorządzie gminnym [Dz. U. 1990 Nr 16 poz. 95]
5https://www.unido.org/our-focus/advancing-economic-competitiveness/competitive-trade-capacities-and-corporate-responsibility/corporate-social-responsibility-market-integration/what-csr (dostęp: 05.02.2021 r.)