April 23 and 24, 2009
At Concordia University
1455 rue de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montréal
Auditorium H-110 (Concordia University, Henry F. Hall)

RPP Symposium

Thursday, April 23
9 am - noon  > Registration
10 am - 11:30 am > Corporate social responsibility and responsible purchasing policies: overview and new developments
  • Exploration of the phenomenon of sweatshops in Quebec and throughout the world.
  • Definition and different forms of corporate social responsibility.
  • Emergence and functions of certifications and responsible purchasing policies (RPP).
  • Presentation of the implementation guide of an RPP developed by CISO and CQCAM.

* This part is designed for the non-initiated and the participants who did not attend the first edition of the symposium in April 2007.

Presented by the Coalition québécoise contre les ateliers de misère (Quebec coalition against sweatshops)

11:30 am - 1 pm  > Lunch
(not provided; a list of responsible restaurants will be available)
1 pm - 1:30 pm  > Welcome
1:45 pm - 3 pm > 1st panel - The respect of human rights: a condition for sustainable development

While the interconnections between sustainable development and environmental protection are fairly acknowledged, the social aspects of sustainable development are less known. The first panel will highlight the social and human aspects of sustainable development such as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

3:15 pm - 4:45 pm  > 2nd panel - Adopting an RPP for the respect of the rights of workers

This second panel will present the experiences made by two organizations in implementing and applying an RPP. Representatives from two organizations as well as lobbies involved in the implementation process of an RPP will be present to share their stories. We will see how they have convinced their members to take an interest in corporate social responsibility and to adopt and implement an RPP.

5 pm - 7 pm  > Supper
(not provided; a list of responsible restaurants will be available)
7 pm - 8:45 pm  > Maison Théâtre (245, rue Ontario Est)
Debate - Corporate social responsibility: legislation or voluntary action?

The new practices with regard to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development remain largely voluntary. Where has this gotten us to date? Do we need laws in order to integrate the principles of social responsibility in the regulation of economic activities? The debate will challenge participants to examine the degree of progress made in corporate social responsibility.

8:45 pm  > Maison Théâtre
Closing words
9 pm - 10 pm  > Maison Théâtre

Friday, April 24
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm  > Registration and participative theatre
(Mise au jeu, an interactive theatre group)
9:45 pm - 11 pm  > Workshops - Tools and best practices

These workshops will allow for the exchange of expertise between the actors of a same sector. Divided by sector (public, private, associative), participants will be able to hear testimonials regarding the adoption and integration of RPPs in various settings and to establish a network for sharing experiences.

11:15 am – 12:30 pm  > Thematic conferences
Conference 1
Auditing and certification: What are the stakes?

When implementing a responsible purchasing policy, the audit is a crucial yet complex stage. This conference will clarify the different problems related to auditing when implementing an RPP and to finding the best solutions and ideas.

The “certification” part will present a portrait of the recognized certifications in Quebec. We will see how the certifying bodies allow to implement standards and procedures in organizations.

Conference 2
Innovation: Tools developed for a new perspective on labour law

In recent years, many international initiatives have emerged to promote the respect of labour laws in the world. Those instruments moreover aim for greater social and environmental accountability by organizations. The conference will illustrate two strong initiatives: 1) the international process of developing the future ISO 26000 guidance standard for social responsibility in organizations and 2) the integration of the social aspect in life cycle analysis. Businesses, institutions, and organizations are increasingly taking account of this concept in their approach.

Conference 3
Is local buying synonymous with good working conditions?

In many work places in Quebec the province's labour standards are still not applied. From that point of view, buying local does not necessarily imply responsible purchasing. This conference will outline the problems encountered by migrant workers in Quebec and the new challenges which our society must face.

12:30 pm – 2 pm  > Lunch
(not provided; a list of responsible restaurants will be available)
2 pm – 2:45 pm  >
Conference 4
Costs and benefits related to the adoption and implementation of an RPP

Speaker Tim Reeve from the Sustainability Purchasing Network (SPN) will discuss the steps and tools required for implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the impact of sustainable development policies. His presentation will include a cost-benefit analysis.

Conference 5
Ensuring compliance to CSR commitments: Are legal means within our reach?

The Association Sherpa will give an introduction to the legal means used in corporate social responsibility and outline the instances which promote compliance with CSR commitments. Sherpa is an international network of lawyers who cooperate with organizations to defend human rights as well as environmental protection associations. It recently worked on developing relevant legal tools for making a society accountable with regard to all supply chain participants in the perspective of reforming EU law.

Conference 6
Trade laws and trade agreements: obstacles to the implementation of an RPP

Bilateral and international free trade agreements will from now on include social and environmental clauses. The WTO developed a legal system for regulating differences and the OECD adopted measures to guide the social responsibility of businesses. In a context of free trade where free competition is protected by international agreements or national laws, implementing an RPP with constraining criteria can be a complex task. The conference will discuss the economic obstacles and possible solutions for meeting those challenges.

Yannick Noiseux, Member of the Groupe de recherche sur l’intégration continentale (GRIC)

3 pm – 4:15 pm  > Plenary

Review of the symposium activities and participative theatre with Mise au jeu, an interactive theatre group.

4:15 pm – 5 pm  > Closing words of acknowledgments