For the first time in the business world, the 17th World Petroleum Congress will debate the issue of corporate social responsibility in the oil industry at the dawn of a new century. This year's Congress theme, "Petroleum Industry: Excellence and Responsibility in Serving Society" will determine the Event's programme agenda. "Companies in our business have to consider the interests of all stakeholders. We have to worry about the impact of our activities on all of those around us and, in particular, on the communities in which we operate," states Francisco Gros, president of Petrobras and of the WPC National Brazilian Committee.
Of the four blocks into which it is divided, the Congress features one devoted entirely to this subject: "Excellence & Responsibility in Managing the Petroleum Business with Economic, Environmental and Social Dimensions." In addition to its six forums, ten poster sessions and three technical presentations, this block will present "Balancing the Petroleum Business and its Social Responsibility: Enhancing Reputation and Building a Competitive Edge," a plenary session to be presided by Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) president, Eleazar de Carvalho Filho and that will have the participation of OPEC president Rilwanu Lukman; Norsk Hydro chairman, Egyl Myklebust; and Saudi Aramco CEO and president, Abdallah S. Jum'ah.
A Luncheon solely on this theme will be held as well. Here strategic issues concerning the oil industry and sustainable development will be discussed. The Brazilian Organising Committee has invited Brazil's first lady, anthropologist Ruth Cardoso to take part in it. Ms. Cardoso is also President of the Board of Comunidade Solidária, a Brazilian NGO devoted to striking partnership agreements between the federal government and civil society with the objective of reducing the rates of poverty and social exclusion in this country.
The executive director of the WPC Brazilian Organising Comittee, Milton Costa Filho, remarks that, "For the first time, we are clearly articulating the words responsibility and society as a whole." The event will set an example, he says, by creating employment in local communities and by inviting NGOs to take part. "NGOs will have space to exhibit their products and ideas, what they are fighting for", states Costa Filho. "The oil industry is at the forefront of developing concepts of how to work in a socially responsible way and is setting an important example to other industries."