www.asianngo.org issue #5 | JAN-FEB 2014
Funds | Partnerships | Learning
EU to set up support centre for EU-China SMEs To break structural, policy and cultural barriers and facilitate ease in doing business for European small- and medium-scale enterprises in China, EuropeAid has announced a grant of EUR6 million ($8.25 M) to set up a SME Centre for Support to EU SMEs to increase and diversify the exports and Cont. page 15
The world does not stop evolving and neither shall man’s ideas from keeping up with the changing times—thus giving rise to countless opportunities to connect and innovate global partnerships. This was the core message of the bi-annual
Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) is co-implementing Project Fairtrade Philippines with the aim to mainstream equitable practices in the production and trade of agricultural products in the country and in Asia.
Cont. page 14
Cont. page 4
Social Innovation Summit 2013: fund new initiatives, create more partnerships
Project Fairtrade: raising the stakes for local farmers
Tracking and cracking the global supply chain
Before and beyond the sunshine industry (read: technology and knowledge outsourcing), Asia has thrived in large-scale manufacturing for decades now. In a region where development is tightly tied to its potentials in agriculture, manufacturing and massive talent pool, questions on the ethical approaches of a global supply chain are arguably inevitable. Conversely, for the average consumer, there’s a fine line between buying cheap and being cheap; or between making a good by and knowing a good buy. Cont. page 4
T o p Stories BSR 2013: Tapping the power of networks Page 3
The development sector in 2014 Page 5 Time for multi-tiered, ethical supply chain Page 6 Country Feature: Bangladesh The price of the high street Page 8 Youth gets ant-corruption orientation from British Council, GIZ Page 10 Re-thinking intellectual property in developing countries Page 12 Asian companies join Business Call to Action Page 13
For more information on grants and events useful for your NGO, turn to page 14-15 or visit www.asianngo.org.
Survey sheds light on the dark figure of modernday slavery
S PE C I A L F E AT U RE
Coming together for the Philippines after Haiyan
Over 29 million people worldwide are still victims of forced labour, reported in the Walk Free Foundation’s recent Global Index on Slavery—the first attempt to measure the scale of modern-day slavery on a country-by-country basis. Around 10 countries account for over 70 percent of the world’s slaves, with India having 14.7 million; while China and Pakistan have 3.1 million and 2.2 million respectively. Cont. page 16
NGOs, CSOs optimise ICT to curb corruption In the last half-decade the developing countries in Asia have struggled to improve in investment readiness and ease in doing business competitiveness ratings. One of the most defining factors of this steep hurdle is the enduring corruption in the region’s emerging economies that, in many ways, dispel foreign investments. Unsurprisingly, corruption is not confined to the government or the private sector; even the development sector and, universally, it exists at a personal level. Cont. page 16
Just days after the 8 November attack of ‘Haiyan’ on Central Philippines, Malaysia-based regional carrier AirAsia launched the campaign, ‘To Philippines With Love’, a relief mission of free airlift of goods and transport for NGOs, accredited rescue, humanitarian and medical workers. Donations are still accepted at AirAsia Zest cargo office and has since been extended to all AirAsia regional network in ASEAN countries including China and Australia. (Image: AirAsia/Flickr)
The world watched as Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) wreaked havoc over PHP40 billions’ (USD930.23 M) worth of damage to properties across Central Philippines; death toll still counting beyond 6,000, over 26,000 people injured and thousands still missing. At least 63 municipalities in Leyte and Samar provinces and 84 municipalities in Panay, Cebu and Negros Occidental took Cont. page 11
Editorial From the Publisher
Starting fresh with new offerings from AsianNGO: very active role even in local policy-making to ensure that introducing the Learning Series atransparency, accountability and ethical business practices
Sreenivas Narayanan firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s an exciting year ahead! After our participation in the Business and Social Responsibility (BSR) conference in San Francisco and the Social Innovation Summit in Stanford both in November, we will take part in the World Training and Development Congress and the CSR Congress both in Mumbai; and the Aid and Development Forum in Bangkok in March. These events give us a deeper insight into the evolving and increasing role of the private sector in development—now more than how it has been in recent decades—including careful examination of controversies it can or has faced.
So in this issue we are running a cover feature on ethical supply chain because, active as the sector may be in getting smaller communities’ produce out to a global market, there are issues that need to be kept in our radar: issues like fair trade, commodity pricing and workers’ rights and safety. We are happy to partner with the Fairtrade Organisation, whose arrival in Asia has been very timely to strengthen stakeholder capacities in the agriculture and trade sectors. Asia’s experience as a manufacturing hub has not always been rosy; despite varied levels of policy-making, it is clear that some communities in the region could definitely improve in matters of ensuring workers’ rights, safety and welfare. Fairtrade’s series of workshops and awareness campaigns for local producers, traders, the public and private sector and civil society organisations involved in the agriculture
sector in the Philippines is a milestone in pursuing fair compensation and pricing for [local] producers’ harvest. This, we feel, is a very good start not only in terms of policy-making; but also in cementing partnerships between the private sector, government agencies, NGOs and our communities of producers. We also remember the massive role the corporate sector played—along with local and INGOs and foreign governments—in taking the lead bringing aid to areas in the Philippines struck by Supertyphoon Haiyan (locally named ‘Yolanda’) in November. We saw how not only corporations’ resources were mobilised; we felt even more empowered seeing their employees actively give their share in so many ways. This issue also reminds us how the non-profit sector can play
are safeguarded. As we look at Bangladesh as country feature, 2012 comes to mind when the World Bank pulled a multimillion dollar project out because one of the local contractors was found to be involved in corrupt practices. This move was triggered by protests and reports from local NGOs. Finally, we are very happy to present one new component of AsianNGO: the Learning Series for our partners in the non-profit sector, including social enterprises. This is part of our mission to be an enabling agent for NGOs and social initiatives—both the grassroots and mid-sized organisations. Over the next quarter we will roll out three issues of the series, all organically produced, ranging from very basic start-up management tools to strategic planning guides for mid-sized teams. In the pipeline are also collaborations with training and coaching centres, international organisations, academic institutions, think-tanks and other NGOs from across the globe whose works we can localise for and are of relevance and interest to our partners. On this note, I would like to invite everyone to keep sending us feedback, share stories and experiences in the sector. We have always believed that the experiences of organisations, big or small, are never too unimportant to put aside. That’s the spirit of active stakeholder engagement; irrespective of which side of the table you are on. ■
In good company: civil society, NGOs must not stop engaging the private sector Mike Saycon email@example.com
We open the year with both a tribute to the private sector for its very active role in development in Asia and for significantly stimulating community engagement; as well as an introspective look at its role in and dealings with global firms’ factories and outsourcing providers across the region.
For starters, we celebrate the innovations and opportunities that the private sector brings to different regions—not least Asia and the Pacific. Given the economic boom that Asian countries have seen in recent years—from the rise of China and India to the opening up of Vietnam; from the economic democratisation of Myanmar to the massive engagement of Japan with the rest of Southeast Asia—we are seeing corporations more actively contributing to their communities in deeper levels beyond profit-making. December saw the Asia Green Conference in Kuala Lumpur tackle environmental ramifications of globalised sourcing practices in the region; and so did the RISE 2013 in Mumbai hear from social enterprises, NGOs and industry leaders on the growing demand for inclusive growth. In February we will witness the World CSR Congress in Mumbai—another corporate-driven but development-centric gathering of business leaders that specifically have deep concerns for business accountability in Asia. Beyond our borders there also were striking discussions on private sector-led in development. In September we took part in the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in San Francisco; and the year closed with such mind-opening events as the BSR and the Social Innovation Summit in Stanford. These gatherings proved to be not only an opportunity for to create networks and collaborate; it sure opened up to new ideas
and discussions—even debates—on how else can the corporate community help build communities and rid the world of poverty. From a developing country perspective in Asia, particularly, we have always looked more to the private sector—local and multi-national—in driving domestic growth and policy-making along with non-profit agencies. This is at least the framework in democratic societies; which, in turn, gives us a fresher perspective on how deep we allow our corporate partners to, first, monetise our resources and, second, exercise responsible and sustainable business. So does, too, our responsibility as citizens and as members of the civil society to ensure a proper balance between companies’ and our communities’ interests. Thus far, that remains to be the ideal. Which is why this issue also takes another look at the recent events in the region that shook up our ideals of the private sector’s participation in local development. We tackle the Bangladesh and outsourcing controversies; and zoom in on the ethical supply chain in which our manufacturing sector in the region thrives.
is also non-negotiable. After all, it’s our resources and it’s our communities at stake. We are thankful to our partners from Sedex Global (through author Mark Robertson, Page 6) for a candid but balanced train of thoughts in this issue’s Guest Writer page. Sedex itself is a non-profit membership organisation campaigning for raising the ethical business standards in global supply chains, with over 30,000 buyer and supplier members worldwide and actively collaborating with local and regional NGOs, UN agencies, journalists and communities tackling supply chain risks. On the other hand, Bobby Tse of Sowers Exchange opens up in an interview sharing his journey from the corporate world to doing really sustainable and engaging CSR projects for his corporate clients. At a brief chat in his Hong Kong office he admitted to have felt ‘selfish’ for all the financial success he was making as a corporate guru; before his turning point encounter that led him to innovate the business model of Sowers into what they do now and spearhead a string of CSR projects in Asia. Read this heart-warming and very personal interview with Bobby on Page 7. It's discourses like this that put a heart to the brains behind the strategies and thought processes in corporations’ marketing, profit-making and, eventually, their community engagement. CSR will undoubtedly continue to increase a role in our lives; and so will be the clamour for responsible business. It’s high time NGOs and communities reciprocate the kind of active engagement asked of the private sector.
There will always be controversies—and in some ways that might be good because it keeps us watchful of our environment. NGOs and advocate groups stay vigilant and companies remain grounded of their undertakings. This is the kind of liberty in the free world that corporate citizenship should thrive in—most especially for us in the non-profit sector. And why not? Between Depends on who you ask, there will always be a bias on one side making sure there is good governance in our governments and of the coin over the other. But for us working on (and watching a attaining a fair playing field among the private sector, it’s the over) how we want the region—our home—to prosper with the civil society that keeps these two pillars of development together in good balances. ■ help of the companies operating in our midst, being vigilant
EDITORIAL TEAM Sreenivas Narayanan CEO & Publisher
Mike Saycon Editor-in-Chief
Karthikeyan Subburaman Senior Editor
Robert Ferguson Development Director
Olga Babina Partnerships Manager
Joylene Dumarey Editorial AssOCIATE 2
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F E AT U R E S
BSR2013 calls for responsible solutions, tap power of networks
A thousand delegates from five continents came together for this year’s recently concluded Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) summit in San Francisco; tackling issues and opportunities in crowd-sourcing and impact investing, climate change and the environment, poverty and development, technology and social media, a corporate strategy for sustainability, stakeholder engagement and the power of networks. This year’s theme, “Power of Networks,” called for solutions to the corporate sector’s sustainability challenges in an increasingly interconnected world, especially in addressing poverty and bringing not only sustainable but responsible innovations across the globe. Sungevity Co-founder and Executive Vice President Danny Kennedy talked about how they use the power of human networks for financial success; and called renewable energy the greatest economic opportunity of our time but noted that “reaching scale will require significant business model ingenuity.” As the world becomes increasingly linked, the ever-expanding networks that connect us are shaping the future; changing the landscape for business, and successful companies finding new opportunities to connect with existing customers and stakeholders and to reach new ones. But the impact of technology is equally important in maximising impact.
Apart from Kennedy and Gorbis, some of the other speakers also included Allen Blue, co-founder and vice-president of LinkedIn; Aldijana Sisic, chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women; Arvind Ganesan, director for Business and Human Rights of HRW; Carmel Giblin, CEO of Sedex Global; Chris Anderson, Communities and Social Performance director for Rio Tinto, PLC; Daniel Bross, senior director for Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft; David Ferguson, Science and Technology deputy director of the USAID; Marcela Manubens, global VP for social impact at Unilever; Matthew Perault, head of policy development for Facebook; Penelope Douglas, executive chair of the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP); Rain Henderson, deputy director of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative; and Mary Robinson, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation; “Personal relationships are crucial [to effective networks]. I don’t think companies will collaborate unless they trust and respect each other,” also noted Heather Grady, VP for Foundation Initiatives of the Rockefeller Foundation. BSR 2014 will be in New York, where it will highlight two plenary speakers: PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi and Maersk
CEO Nils Andersen. For the output of this year’s conference or to read their social media highlights, executive summaries of sessions, blogs, videos, photos and more; or to follow updates for the 2014 BSR conference, visit www.bsr.org. (BSR) ■
“Disruptive technologies and innovations are shifting and decentralising the way we do everything,” noted Marina Gorbis of the Institute for the Future, who kicked off this year’s conference by giving a name to a new sea change: socialstructing. Gorbis posited that as networks become a more powerful force in economies, socialstructing is how organisations and individuals "create value by aggregating micro-contributions by large networks using social tools and technologies—in other words, harnessing small actions for a larger impact.” This year’s pre-Conference training session on “CSR 301” also explored the emerging trends and leading practices in corporate sustainability; and tackled issues such as the challenge for companies to tell their sustainability story without having to sound like greenwashing. BSR Managing Director Laura Gitman noted “it is important to identify bigger-picture brand attributes in telling companies’ stories.” Gitman cited Nike’s new Free and Flyknit lines as an example, marketed largely as performance shoes true to Nike’s story and promise of developing innovative products for athletes. Yet these lines were also driven largely by Nike’s sustainability goals and that it has reduced waste by 80 to 90 per cent from production by using innovative and fewer materials. Sungevity’s Kennedy also encouraged business leaders to use networks and look to the future. At the BSR, businesses were encouraged to learn to work within a new ecosystem of collaborative networks and look for opportunities to work with their employees, customers, and stakeholders to leverage the power of individuals and their networks for both sustainability and business value.
RISE 2013: partnerships for social impact Social enterprises, civil society groups, non-government organisations, industry leaders, government agencies, bilaterals, think-tanks, women social green (WSG) enterprises and members of the academe gathered on 11-12 December at the Nehru Centre in Mumbai for the Responsible, Inclusive, Sustainable, Eco-friendly (RISE) 2013 Summit. The event highlighted creating shared values in facilitating active mapping of resources and partnership with and within the development sector. Plenaries and roundtable discussions focused on health and nutrition, CSR, government programmes, disability and senior citizens, skills development and livelihoods, technologies for social change, financial awareness and protection, water and sanitation, waste management and recycling. These allowed participants to explore solutions that provide opportunity and build partnerships, with a follow-through action plan to be drawn up in consultation with the core committee from knowledge partner, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In a statement, RISE says it “promotes values shared and in-sync with the eco-system and its stakeholders in creating frameworks for collaboration and market-based solutions for greater good along with viable development.” The RISE frameworks then take this further to help corporations and social enterprises to design and build capacity around strategies and processes for social, environmental and economic impact. Apart from the discussions happening at the summit, there will also be focused-group events, an exhibit display area for various sectors, a research survey, social tours; and the Catalogue for Impact, a distinctive medium for corporations to showcase their inclusive business, affirmative action and CSR initiatives to social and eco-conscious consumers. RISE was produced by Idobro, a social enterprise providing last-mile market access, linkages, and capacities for the empowerment and inclusion of women, social and green enterprises to corporate practice. ■ www.asianngo.org
C O V E R S TOR Y from page 1
Tracking and cracking the global supply chain Likewise, individually we can keep watch of companies if they have been certified by organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation, Soil Association, Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council and the Product Authentication Inspectorate (PAI) to follow their compliance with internationally-accepted ethical standards.
Left photo: Industrial and manufacturing hubs attract residential communities—often by families of the workers. One issue faced by multi-nationals that outsource their productions in the region is the lack of sustainable and hygienic housing in their manufacturing centres. Right: Small-scale enterprises, such as the production of ethnic fabric by indigenous groups are easily the casualties of mass-produced garments. (All images from the ADB’s 2011 ‘CLICK’ Photo Competition.)
that depend on it. Finally, there’s the string of logistics: freight and shipping, and customs and tax centres. Sure, we have been told of how consumers in the West become more conscious of where their coffee, tea, rice, fruits, cocoa, cotton, sugar, honey juices, nuts, herbs and spices come from. But that’s just half of the issue. After the factory collapse in Bangladesh last year, almost a hundred European retailers and clothing labels rushed to draft safety plans for their [Bangladesh] factories and across Asia. Canadian and US retailers, who also outsource goods in the region, did the same. Bangladesh, however, is no new trigger to the issue of where (or how) our goods are actually made. Since Nike (1990s) and Apple (2009)—two of the world’s biggest brands— got embroiled in supply controversies with their manufacturing hubs in Asia, attention was easily magnified on many other big names with a clamour for accountability in their supply chains. “CSR advocates have always argued that [US] companies have an ethical responsibility that isn’t constrained by geographic and political borders, or even cultural traditions. It must be argued that many US companies shifted operations overseas to avoid the heavy hand of US regulation and the costs that came with it,” writes Doug Guthrie in Forbes. In addition, the West’s outsourcing in Asia has been anchored on the premise that their companies can avoid the high production costs back home and take advantage of the lower costs in Asia—labourand raw goods-wise.
Transparency and accountability, at every point in the supply chain, are crucial questions to address. What do consumers know? How much information firms really have about their supply chains or are willing to tell their consumers on where exactly or how their goods are made? In this age of information highway and uncensored communication, it is possible to create one’s own trail. Knowing that (some parts of ) our purchase’s supply chain is abroad, there is a way to consult with local trade unions and NGOs to identify areas of concern— wherever they may be. There is also a channel for consumers and supply-chain advocates to be actively involved in looking at issues like forced labour, wage levels and working hours, workplace safety and sanitation, whether the supplier allows trade union activity, cases of discrimination and incidents of abuse—even from across the globe and through the region. The Ethical Trading Initiative (www. ethicaltrade.org), founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) code of labour practice, lists metrics for both suppliers and consumers to be guided, enquire on and even report dubious practices. There are institutions like the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), Business in the Community (BITC) and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) that keep us informed of companies who keep socially responsible credentials.
Smarta (www.smarta.com), an independent, entrepreneur-led think-tank providing support and advice to business start-ups, offers three simple thoughts on adhering to ethical standards of one’s supply chain: create a set of clear guidelines for your suppliers and be firm with it, keep a close look at your suppliers’ track record in the industry, and get them to reduce wastage.
More importantly, to the self-respecting corporate executive and consumer, what matters most at a human level is knowing that they have not only helped governments and providers back in Asia benefit form their investments; but that millions of human lives have improved and are able to thrive in jobs (and benefits) with dignity—humanely and fairly. Only then can the term ‘ethical’ be applicable to the supply chain. ■
The supply chain is, in fact, a chain—whether we look at it in colonial years perspective when goods were transported from one continent to another, often involving the use of the word ‘slaves’; or in the 21st century outsourcing industry. The issue does not stop where production happens. Rather, it trickles especially from page 1 down to both the consumers who fuel the demand and the sources and channels through which these supplies run. As Steve New, supply-chain management professor at the Oxford University's Saïd Business School, said in a Harvard Business Review article, “Few people outside the supply chain function used to care where products came from. Nowadays, everyone from company leaders to interest groups to consumers wants to know something, if not everything, about a product’s origins.”
Project Fairtrade: raising the stakes for local farmers
As consumers (and yes, this involves us in the non-profit sector, too), feeling responsible about our purchases is and must be taken beyond the context of personal need or self-gratification. Knowing where our goods come from, mindful of the hands that create them and raising our voice about what we know is invisibly wrong At the multi-stakeholder commercial meeting last month, with our purchased goods—is fair start. The Andrea Richert (left), New Markets Manager for the channels are there. For companies, being a member of associations and accredited for their works is one thing; and being actively vigilant is another. One needs to see how products are made, moved and delivered. UK-based Historic Futures (www.historicfutures.com), creator of String (www.stringtogether.com), an online tool that companies can use to and track various stages of their goods’ production, packaging and delivery, is a good example. Taking an ethical stand is just the next, bigger step.
But supply chain is a multi-tiered stakeholder map involved in very different fronts. Outside the production hubs and the workers’ lives, there is an entire ecosystem around it. There is a question on the repercussions of manufacturing in and how waste is kept from contaminating the environment. There is also a question of how conscientious are producers of the sustainability of sourcing raw goods from various communities; and aggressive harvesting can affect the local communities’ livelihoods
Not only are foodstuff outsourced into the West, such as corn, meat and fruits; textile materials and pottery are also among the chain of goods sourced en masse from Asia. (All images from the ADB’s 2011 ‘CLICK’ Photo Competition.)
Globalisation, easy-access technologies getting cheaper by the day and the desire to profit more at less cost have inspired brands to manufacture parts in one hub, assemble them in another and sell them back home at their prices. By this logic, outsourcing indeed proves expedient and luvratice. But a truly efficient supply chain does not only understand the unique circumstances of these hubs, keep costs and schedule in line and give companies—both the outsourcer and the provider—the room to grow in larger scales.
Fiartrade Global Accounts Management, speaks with some of the Project Fairtrade Philippines partners.
Recently launched in Cebu in Central Philippines, Project FAIRTRADE is a publicprivate partnership (PPP) through the joint efforts of DEG, Fairtrade International and FLO-CERT; and co-implemented by OURFood, SIGN Asia and ASSIST. The project will also form a local Fairtrade Marketing Organization (FMO) in the Philippines “This project aims to promote fair trade practices and increase participation locally among the private sector, government and civil society groups. We are looking forward to the full cooperation of our stakeholders and partners in working together for a successful Fairtrade market in the Philippines for the benefit of our local farmers and workers,” said Fairtrade International Commercial Director Martin Hill at a meeting in December in Manila. A series of awareness workshops for farmers and cooperative unions in Davao were hosted in December, and a string of workshops is in the pipeline for Luzon region in the coming year. Agency leads and experts from the public and private sectors, non-government organisations and civil society groups involved in agriculture were also pooled for a consultative commercial meeting last month; kick-starting various awareness campaigns on the project and of fair trade principles. “Fair trade is a rather new concept in many areas in Asia, and we are happy to pioneer the implementation of projects and campaigns to benefit not only our local farmers in the region; but also to educate communities of their rights as producers and of the opportunities for their produce—in the way fair trade is done,” noted ASSIST CEO Sreenivas Narayanan. ■
fe a t u r es
Summit calls for scaling up organisational efficiency
Kuala Lumpur’s Sunway Convention Centre hosted this year’s Asia Green Conference earlier this month, bringing likeminded individuals and companies in creating sustainable enterprises through protecting the environment, developing a sustainable economy, and managing resources. Experts and exhibitors shared new trends, exchanged critical knowledge, and provided alternative business solutions for Asian businesses. Day 1 tackled issues like embedding green skills into business practices and culture, developing competent green workforce and biotechnology initiatives. These practices include managing budgets, projects, and financial plans; as well as developing site safety and emergency response plans, and waste management strategies and services.
World Development Report: the development sector in 2014 With all the available materials on risk and resilience in the development sector, what new insights does the World Bank have to offer in their outlook for 2014?The 2014 World Development Report, titled ‘Managing Risk for Development’, brings not very surprising news. Since the 2008 global financial crisis risk management has been in the spotlight onsocial protection, food security and strengthening resiliency—a trendsustained by concerns over the future, with climate change and new financial breakdownslooming on the horizon. A first trend is looking at instances of risk as ones of opportunity as well. This insight is a shift from the traditional point of view, where risk management is seen as an additional ‘burden’, a necessary evil. The report focuses on risk strategies as playing a vital part in sustainable development and economic growth. Shocks as a motor of pushing people into poverty, is a second point of interest, especially with regard to pushing people into extreme poverty. This concept is of importance for the international community’s goal to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. It not only means taking shocks into account when concentrating on the causes of impoverishment, but also on supporting people to gain higher levels of income, to stop them from ‘sliding back’in instances of crisis. Risks should also be seen as dynamic forces, and the past cannot be held as benchmarks for looking into the future. The report collects some insightful data on the incidence of different types of shocks, which shows that the blend of risks facing the public sector and households do not have a uniform character. The report therefor pushes forward-looking risk-
modelling exercises and scenario planning into the limelight, especially for planning and budgeting. Linked to the previous insight is the focus on risk management requiring institutions that understand specific, local, risk contexts and trends. In the 2014 WDR, risk management is spread out over different scales of governance and geography and there is a call for increased subsidiarity, with interventions of institutions understanding specific risk contexts. This is based on the interwoven analysis of macro-economic financial stability and the flexibility of labour markets on the one hand, and informal household economics and access to credit on the other hand. Recurring elements in the report, which also frequently feature in the main risk management discourse, are obstacles to risk management, such as insufficient resources and the human tendency to hide from bad news, and the call for an alliance of stakeholders as the best way to diminish threats. Notably absent is a thorough analysis of the future, which is surprising in light of the World Bank’s public focus on eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. Also, the comprehensive set of recommendations lacks attention for the role of the international community and the post-2015 development goals. Nevertheless, the report’s aim to raise awareness about risk and development is very timely, in a world where traditional systems are failing to address the complex modern world and risk is more intricately structured than thought before. ■
Aside from expanding on Day 1’s topics, Day 2 involved a series of 12 separate workshops and provided discussions on how to implement green skills back to organisations in creating a sufficient and sustainable office environment. These green skills included facilitating effective client relationships by responding to inquiries and complaints, enhancing teamwork relationships, and workplace communications. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn,” said Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock. He added that when it comes to educating organisations on sustainability and implementing green skills, scaling up on learning initiatives remains the best approach to encourage understanding, promoting efficiency; and eliminating unnecessary waste for the organisation. The Asia Green Conference encouraged designing and developing work-based learning programmes or training-oftrainor (TOT) modules so new knowledge embeds to the organisational culture leading to understanding sustainability and changes in behaviours and attitudes. For more information on the event or to view the output gallery, visit www. asiagreenconference.com.my. ■
Habitat for Humanity supports shelter needs of over 5,000 families affected by Haiyan Habitat for Humanity, a global non-profit shelter organization, has assisted over 5,000 Filipino families affected by typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines’ Visayas region in November, which destroyed over a million homes. “As an NGO focused on shelter, Habitat kicked into gear straight after the typhoon struck and we distributed emergency shelter kits that enabled families to build temporary shelters. The kits included tarpaulins, rope and fixings. Things have progressed since November and we are now distributing shelter repair kits containing plywood, lumbar, galvanised iron sheets, hammer, saw and nails; so families can begin to return to their homes,” said Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity Asia-Pacific vice-president. In December, Habitat also intensified its disaster response efforts and distributed at least 30,000 shelter repair kits and, as part of this ongoing response, its national organisation Habitat for Humanity Philippines gave 350 shelter repair kits in Daanbantayan, northern Cebu, where close to 18,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. “Challenges remain such as price increase in materials because of increasing demand, and limited number of trucks and barges to distribute the kits. To reach some remote islands, Habitat has been transporting materials on traditional fishing boats, which have limited capacity. But we will overcome the challenges to help Filipinos rebuild their homes and lives,” continued Hathaway. To support these initiatives of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, donations can be made at http://www. give2habitat.org/philippines/ReBuildPhilippines. ■ www.asianngo.org
G ues t w r i t e r
Time for a multi-tiered approach to supply chain risks in Asia
In many respects 2013 proved to be a big year for responsible sourcing. Calls for a more responsible approach to supply chain management have grown, along with the sense that a more sophisticated understanding of supply chain risk—one that takes into takes a deeper dive into global supply chains—is urgently required.
will only become more critical to companies and their suppliers. Tackling these issues at scale is an ambitious task requiring a concerted response. A growing number of companies—and investors—recognise the power of supply chains and are working collaboratively to drive transparency down the supply chain and to tackle sustainability issues at scale.
In April, the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse served as a stark reminder as to the devastating impacts on human life—and the negative consequences for companies’ reputations – that can result from unaddressed supply chain risks. This disaster has shone a spotlight on supply chain issues in South and South East Asia with companies, investors, international governments and NGOs seeking to further increase their understanding of key supply chain risks—and the best solutions to address these—in the region. Experience tells us that the differences between how companies respond to supply chain risks can be stark, especially when it comes to supply chain management. There are those who acknowledge risk and work to mitigate it, and those who ignore the warning signs. Earlier this year Sedex Global published a briefing to explore the top line trends, challenges and opportunities in South & South East Asian (S & SE) supply chains. Based on insights drawn from Sedex’s database of ethical audits conducted at supplier sites across Asia, our research identified extremely poor adherence to working standards, risk of complicity to serious rights violations due to widespread subcontracting and ingrained corruption as key supply chain challenges in the region. Amongst the top ten risk issues, labour standards issues (specifically wages and working hours) was the highest occurring issue at supplier sites in the region. Severe health, safety and hygiene issues (including inadequate chemical, machinery and fire safety standards and a lack of building/site maintenance permits and certificates) were collectively the second highest recorded issues.
We thus encourage other companies in South and South East Asia to follow their lead. ■
In addition to structure safety of buildings, fire safety also remains at the top of the list of concerns in South and Southeast Asia where more than 500 workers have died in factory fires in recent years: • “Over 100 die in fire at Chinese poultry plant” (New York Times, 3 June 2013) • “Eight killed in Bangladesh garment factory fire” (CNN, 9 May 2013) • “Bangladesh textile factory fire leaves more than 100 dead” (The Guardian, 25 Nov 2012) • “More than 300 killed in Pakistani factory fires” (New York Times, 12 September 2012) Sedex data shows that fire safety is a clear risk not only in Bangladesh but also in China, Pakistan and India. Nearly a quarter of independent audits show non-compliance in fire safety in Bangladesh, 18 per cent in China, 17 per cent in Pakistan and 15 per cent in India and Sri Lanka. When you dig deeper into fire safety and take a look at the issues at the international level it becomes clear that many of the risks could be quite simply addressed. Globally, key fire safety risks include missing or inadequate exit signage (10% of fire starts), no or inadequate functioning emergency light (8.2%), lack of visibility of signs and instructions (7.6%), blocked aisles and blocked exits (6.9%), and firefighting equipment either inadequately installed or not installed at all (5.8%). Modern supply chains are complex; consisting of continuously evolving, multi-tiered networks involving many thousands of suppliers around the world. Globalisation and shifting patterns of trade quickly create new risk hotspots, as a result making a commitment to improving standards at scale more challenging. In mapping and understanding supply chain risk many companies focus on ‘top-down’ approaches to responsible supply chain management, assessing first-tier supplier’s performance based on their publicly disclosed data. Engaging with first-tier suppliers is a logical first step as it is often where businesses feel they have greatest direct influence. However, experience tells us that this can create risk blind spots as majority of environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks often lie deeper down the supply chain where knowledge and capacity to address these risks can be limited. Achieving multi-tier transparency is challenging, but there are excellent examples of companies using data from deeper in the supply chain to enable more robust risk management and build more resilient supply chains. Companies that monitor and understand supply chain data are better placed to quickly assess and mitigate risks. They can also identify positive trends, replicate good practice, build a web of supply chain partners and sustainability champions; allowing companies to quickly identify supplier sustainability needs. A new year brings a great opportunity to take stock, to review progress and rally more companies to take an active and multitier approach. Against a backdrop of rising global demands for food, energy, living space and water; and the challenge of dealing with climate change—it is clear that sustainability issues
About the Author
Mark Robertson is the head of marketing and communications at Sedex Global (www.sedexgobal.com), which works with buyers and suppliers around the world to deliver improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Its mission is to drive collaboration, increase transparency and build the capacity that’s needed to raise standards across all tiers of the supply chain. A regular media commentator on sustainability issues, he is passionate about the potential for business and investors to drive social and environmental improvements in global supply chains. Mark has previously worked at responsible investment research firm EIRIS where he provided communications leadership, strategic thinking and creative ideas which established EIRIS as a global thought leader and helped increase the visibility of responsible and ethical investment. At EIRIS Mark developed and launched YourEthicalMoney.org, the UK’s first ethical financial product comparison website for UK consumers. He also sat on the UK Social Investment Forum’s Advisory Board for national Ethical Investment Week.
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Sowing the good seed where it actually grows As managing director of Sowers Exchange, Bobby Tse has taken the lead in bringing stakeholders together from the private sector, non-government organisations and grassroots communities to address varying societal gaps in the developing region through a more active community-engagement approach. His works with NGOs, corporations and civil society groups have taken him across Asia and Africa tackling issues on poverty, education, human rights and many others; and in this issue Bobby opens up on how the private sector, in general, can even be more active and efficient in leaving a lasting impact in grassroots communities while empowering their employees.
multi-national firms, while enabling them to achieve lasting impact in their communities. We wanted them not only to give money to communities, but also their people’s energies so they would have a change of heart and get them to connect with [communities]. We were actually empowering grassroots communities across the region using a strategy that our clients [corporations] use via employee engagement. What is your biggest takeaway from this Left photo: Julius Baer (Hong Kong) Limited donated $60,000 for a school development project in Henan China, providing nine classrooms, a playground and bathrooms. It also gave over 400 children an opportunity to education and a chance to break away from poverty. Right: Deutsche Bank supports at-risk youth with activities at Christian Zheng Sheng School. A three-part programme in 2012 allowed involvement in the work of the Drug Rehabilitation School, understanding the situation of young drug offenders and the efforts to educate and integrate them back into society while enabling the staff of Deutsche Bank to engage in team-building activities. The endeavour also supports social enterprises set-up by the school to sustain its operations while teaching the students life-skills and responsibility. (All images courtesy of Sowers Exchange.)
The Sowers model for CSR work thrives in community involvement; and tweaks the channels in which foundations and donors work with communities. First, how can this model achieve sustainability for companies operating in transition economies; and second, how do you measure the success rate for each initiative?
with each year more and more sub-contracted suppliers having to live up to the supply chain expectations of the large global firms. At Sowers, without any degree of complacency, we believe that irregular or abusive outsourcing and neo-slavery practices will be screened out.
What to you is the role of governments in the cooperation between the private sector and civil society organisations? Do they have a Transition economies will largely need more privileged position, or does their involvement patience. Sustainability and CSR have not come about as a revolution. Progress to a model bring particular issues out? of sustainable economy—and we are not even Governments have a long-term responsibility there yet—will be incremental. It is unfair for to their constituents to provide regulation and an advanced economy to dictate the terms of legislation that induces sustainable production progress to less advanced markets. The most effective model is one of positive sustainability in the interests of all. Politicians in all types of office face problems resulting directly and leadership from the advanced economies and indirectly from corruption (as defined by the the ability and inclination to transfer skills UN Global Compact). Again, incrementally, and technology to support this. We tend this issue is being confronted. The jury is still to look to large companies and enlightened out on how long this will take or how effective governments for indications of how to do it governments can be. We are all fortunate better. All businesses need to both understand therefore that companies take some kind of and value the contribution they make to a lead in addressing inherently political problems. sustainable economy. Sowers has a director from an academic background who assures it In our last meeting you mentioned new and its clients appreciate non-financial (i.e., programmes in the pipeline. Briefly tell us environmental and social) contributions of more about these. their CSR. Right now we have programmes in Malaysia, Global or multi-national players dominate your project and partners portfolio. What are Indonesia, Hong Kong and Manila; and we’ve also just finished projects in Thailand and your thoughts and, if at all, experiences like the Philippines. We have new partners that with local companies on the field? we are developing initiatives for across the region, helping them run off-site team-building Global firms and in particular the top 500 corporations, who evidently have the resources programmes with a social cause. A lot of these we are designing for now are corporations to engage in it, dominate CSR. As the result bringing their CSR work into more focus: of at least a decade of pressure from and whether on youth development, education, engagement with various stakeholders— social entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and institutional shareholders, NGOs, regulators and consumers—large firms have become more many more. Instead of just doing an off-site activity, we encourage them deploy their staff to political in their approach to CSR as a means a struggling community or expanding market to competitive advantage. Smaller firms with to do real, hands-on community engagement. less budget for such a wholesale campaign are They not only build their brand and engage in many ways more interesting, diverse and their employees; they’re also achieving a social challenging in the particular aspect of CSR cause. that attracts them. But really, can you think of a firm that is not in some way a multinational player? We are all part of the globalised You veered away from purely corporate work economy and so the difference you are looking to an innovated model of development and for is less evident than our experience suggests. sustainability. What triggered your decision? What was that journey like for you? What on-ground challenges do you face when implementing projects, especially when Ashamed to admit this, but life was always about money, success and recognition; until I dealing with communities that are not used went on a short-term relief project in Sichuan to a social-enterprise kind of cooperation of (China) six months after the earthquake. the private sector? Before that experience I’d only seen disaster through my TV screen. When you see it that Social enterprise is all about human resources. The challenge is resourcing the appropriate level one-dimensional, it never really sinks in. I used to think the problem is too big for me, and of personal involvement with any community. when other governments and aid agencies go in Afflicted and destabilised communities need and help—I’ll cut a cheque. But when you’re intervention to assist them in the path to on ground zero and you see, touch, smell and normal living; not just cash and pity. It is the quality of personal engagement that makes the feel disaster on that level, you now have to ask yourself: is life really just about money, success qualitative difference to any aid project. and recognition? This issue zooms in on ethical supply chain I came back from that trip and all I could and, in many respects, the rising trend of think of for months was what more could I outsourced labour in the region from the do to help. I struggled going back to work. West—taking Bangladesh as an example in our country feature. How do you see prospects I kept thinking: how can I utilise the skill sets I have developed from the private sector for Sowers in communities as this? to create bigger impact in the impoverished communities? I took a year’s sabbatical to work At Sowers we find no resistance to the use of with grassroots social purpose organisations the supply chain as an organising principle to (SPO) around the world learning about their both explore and improve CSR. Since 2004 models and needs and how they did their work. international regulation has been upping the pressure on firms to report on their nonWhen I joined Sowers Exchange we changed financial impact, and thus environmental the business model from voluntourisim and social costs (formally externalities) are into doing what we do now: assisting and transparent in annual reports. This regulation developing sustainable CSR programmes for will have a trickle-down effect in practice www.asianngo.org
journey of yours that you would like to impart to corporations that work with civil society groups, NGOs and social enterprises? My two biggest takeaways from that journey were that even if grassroots SPOs were doing good work and making change in there communities, they didn't necessarily have the business skills to run their operations efficiently. The other thing was that efficiency ratios. Some the large SPOs had terrible efficiency and could not give full transparency and accountability. For the works that we do at Sowers, it’s very rewarding to see people more than just give; but also to experience it. It makes them better, and eventually people have a change of heart and attitude about helping others. It makes people reflect on their roles in the society and make them think of the things they have; as opposed to what they see in communities, how others don’t have even the most basic things. ■
About the Interviewee Bobby has more than twenty years of experience in project management and client-relationship management from working as an outreach mission leader, a business development director for a marketing-solutions firm, and an engineer for construction companies. His work has taken him across Asia and Africa. He has negotiated with local businesses and governments, coordinated team efforts in earthquake-stricken Sichuan, and helped build schools in Uganda. With great compassion for the underprivileged, Bobby recognises the diverse ways that corporations with Bobby Tse corporate social responsibility programmes can boost email@example.com both society and business. These ideas and experiences planted the seeds for Sowers Exchange, of which he is partner and Managing Director. Sowers Exchange is a Hong Kong-based social enterprise focused on providing dynamic, effective, and sustainable solutions to companies and individuals who want to establish or expand their community investment initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. They bridge the gap between grassroots level social purpose organisations (SPOs) and corporations across Asia, in the belief that if the under-resourced SPOs are provided with knowledge, people, resources and funding they can effectively address the pressing social needs of impoverished communities. With the aim to empower, enable and engage underprivileged communities, Sowers connects connect corporations with compatible SPOs from its portfolio of vetted organisations; initiates interaction between corporate donors and SPO recipients to enable high-impact exchange of knowledge, resources and skill-sets; and design hands-on engagements through personal visits to mobilise Hong Kong citizens to actively incorporate philanthropic involvement into their daily lives.
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Bangladeshi protestors bear their national flag calling for better working conditions for garment workers during a May Day in May in Dhaka, following the Rana Complex collapse. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous/Flickr)
Price of the high street: the Bangladeshi garment industry Op top of being one of world's largest suppliers of agricultural produce (rice, potato, onion, tea, tropical fruits and jute), Bangladesh’s three decade-old garment industry owns a 3 percent of the global market and accounts to over three quarters of its export revenues. With over 5,000 factories across the country employing three million—mostly women—Bangladesh exports about USD21 billion’s worth of clothing garments, mostly to the European Union and the United States. As a direct result of this boom, Bangladesh has also seen other industries grow that provide people jobs, particularly in the service sector—hotels, restaurants, local shops—now linked to the garment industry. It has indeed become Bangladesh’s main source of foreign currency, lending support for its economy and infrastructure. But in April last year, Rana Complex, a Dhaka outskirts manufacturing facility built with more floors than authorised, collapsed and killed 1,132 of its garment workers. Another factory in 2012 was ravaged by fire, killing 112. Both—although most notably the former case—sparked outrage and debate on the country’s labour standards and workers’ safety and rights. Consequently the EU, which has traditionally given tax concessions and preferential-treatment access to Bangladesh’s garment exports, threatened sanctions if it would not commit to international labour standards and improve workplace safety. As clothing is ineligible for US tax cuts, the Obama government in turn slashed trade benefits for Bangladesh in what was largely seen a symbolic response to the conditions of its garment manufacturing sector.
Further down the line, in July, the Bangladesh parliament approved a labour law to strengthen employees' rights and improve workplace safety—mostly seen as a response to appease Western governments and their manufacturing clients. The government also convened with labour groups, trade unions, NGOs and factory operators about a new minimum wage specifically for the garments sector. (Current rate is $38 monthly, a bit over a dollar a day and barely half of what Cambodians make.)
it—of the dire situation faced by Blangladesh’s garment factory workers; and of the Bangladeshi government’s questionable handling of the issue. Akter, in a separate interview, claimed there are at least 30 members of the parliament who are also garment factory owners; and that majority of the owners are involved in politics. “The ruling party, the opposition and even the communists all have relatives in the garment industry,” she said, adding it is a law enforcement issue because this leads to regulatory bodies always siding with the factory owners.
As if an unsurprising factor, minimum wage is still very low; and even more difficult to raise after the April 2013 tragedies considering factory workers are most likely to oppose another wage hike. “We cannot afford to pay our workers higher salaries [because] Western retailers are so used to buying cheap goods made in Bangladesh [or in Asia, for that matter]. That will put our business to a detriment,” says one factory owner.
Meanwhile, many in Bangladesh’s private sector are busy minding their own affairs while the larger ones are too occupied with promoting to investors from abroad. And with the country’s slow progression with its NGO culture, this leaves the burden of rallying the civil society to a handful of homegrown NGOs.
Minimum wage issue aside, however, activists say the July legislation failed in addressing many other concerns within the sector—and blame the government for hastily enacting the law only to please foreigners. "They should have spent more time to discuss not only the issue of compensation for the injured and dead; but also maternity benefits and the rights of domestic workers," Rashed Khan Menon, MP and president of the Workers Party, was quoted in a Reuters report. The global debate also raise(d) concerns on the West’s tolerance—even coddling, as NGOs and political activists put
For starters, NGOs played key role, along with foreign governments, to pressure the Bangladeshi government to launch the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh—a fiveyear multi-stakeholder pact among retailers, NGOs and labour unions to maintain minimum safety standards in the country’s textile industry. It has been signed by over 80 companies, mostly from Europe, including Hennes and Mauritz (H&M), Fast Retailing (Uniqlo, Theory), PUMA, Carrefour, Tesco, Next and Marks & Spencer, PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger) and American Eagle Outfitters. Despite this, almost a year running now there is still no real
This move by the US government is exactly what labourers back in Bangladesh is dreading to happen says Nazma Akter, founder of Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, a workers’ union primarily advancing the rights of women garment workers. Since the Rana Complex tragedy, Akter has fought global brands over their crumbling factories and often-underpaid garment workers in Bangladesh.
Jeans for the masses. While the rich buy brand shops, a lot of which were actually made in Bangladesh, workers who make these garments buy from street shops like this one—right in front of a garment factory. A pair of jeans here can cost $5, but the workers can hardly afford the jeans they themselves make. (Sheikh Shahriar Ahmed/Flickr) 8
An illustrative differentiation of the cost to produce clothing garments in the United States and Bangladesh. (Courtesy of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights and CNN) www.asianngo.org
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“If corporations are sustainable, why are workers dying?” asked Tom Cecich, chair of the Centre for Safety and Health Sustainability, in a forum last October, referring to a factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh. CSHS found that many “sustainable” corporations listed in the Corporate Knights Global 100 report significant fatalities across their supply chains in their sustainability reports. (Commit!Forum/Flickr)
At an organised protest in 2008 in London, where Associated British Foods, owners of Primark, were holding their general meeting. Salma Islam (left), who has worked in the garment industry since she was 13, was widowed when her husband was killed in a factory fire and was paid no compensation by Primark. Shahida Sarkar (right) is president of the National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh. (Image: Vicki Morris/Flickr)
mainstream interest in the story—nor of the Accord. And, to refer back to Akter’s sentiment, many of these operators are the same figures as the ones making the policies; hence enforcement will remain on paper.
needs to be a real discourse about ethical pricing—especially on the part of consumers. Western buyers must change their concept of and expectations for ultra-cheap fast fashion; and knowing where and how their goods are made is a start. The Guardian author Lucy Siegle cites a research study that shows how many Western fashion buyers and retailers base their calculations on misleading industry standards set on 100% efficient factories; and so the pressure on workers is enormous.
Oxfam has been advocating for more signatories to the Accord but the real action will have to be taken by, first the government enforcement agencies and more importantly, closely watched by domestic organisations—NGOs especially—who have a better understanding of the ground realities. Local groups like the Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition (BWHC) has the best interest to advance their causes; since over 90 percent of the country’s garment factory workers are women. Commentators have pointed out that leaving Bangladesh as a manufacturing hub (as the case of Walt Disney Company) nor stopping from buying made-in-Bangladesh goods is not necessarily the solution. The women will lose their jobs and they will be in a very vulnerable situation, creating a chain of social disasters. Securing better working standards in garment manufacturing is not solely Bangladesh’s responsibility; it is a global business where everyone is responsible. Not only does this put ethical business to question. There also
More deeply, the survivors of the Rana Complex tragedy and several others, as are the rest of the workers in the country’s garment production sector, must continue to receive support in their livelihoods—especially women who choose to remain at work, whose families and communities depend for income and support. Advocating for and being actively engaged in promoting real change for the benefit of the workers will take more than signature campaigns from big, international NGOs. Factories with better infrastructure and safer working conditions, as well as educating workers of their rights and options, are all very important steps. In April this year a group of clothing experts and advocates will
Graduation of newly skilled sewing machine operators in the ILO-supported TVET Reform Project pilot programme, having just finished training and now entering a ready-made garments (RMG) factory. (Image: ILO/Sarah-Jane Saltmarsh/Flickr)
Garment factory workers at a September 2013 protest in Dhaka, demanding better minimum wages amid escalating tension over the country's main export business. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad/Flickr)
commemorate the Rana Complex tragedy’s first anniversary, putting forward ideas to avoid similar disasters from happening again like providing more lenient production timelines. But that is too high-priced an option for many of the retailers, as Siegle reported in The Guardian, to buy. The fight will still then be borne—and paid for—by Bangladesh’s garment workers. ■
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Youth gets anti-corruption orientation from British Council, GIZ The Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Council (ACC) has signed an agreement with the British Council and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) to facilitate a series of workshops for the youth aimed at training them on ways to avoid corruption, through an initiative called “School Integrity Units.” “These trainings will establish a core group of trainers who can help young people avoid corruption and other evils they will encounter as they enter society as adults,” said Richard Miles, GIZ principal adviser at the signing of the agreement with the ACC in October. A three-day training course followed for master trainers responsible for training the School Integrity Units in
With an initial run of three years and a probability of extension, the project will first be brought to 50 schools in each of the five districts; and to 60 additional schools across the country.
director of the British Council in Dhaka. Working closely with the Bangladeshi government to increase their reach with teachers and students across the country, the ACC’s partnership with GIZ has been deemed necessary to engage the next generation of Bangladesh on issues surrounding corruption and the values of good citizenship.
“We want to open an opportunity for young people around the world to become global citizens, and with the ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme in Bangladesh we follow this aspiration,” noted Robin Davies, partnerships and programmes
The programme philosophy adopts the requirements of the Government National Integrity Strategy. By visiting schools, trainers sensitise and educate young students about corruption and its negative effects to their community— across all levels. ■
Japan, ADB capacitate Bangladesh trade through grant, loans
StanChart teams up with hospital for poor eye surgery patients
Investment firm pledges $1bn for Asian garment factories
In an effort to enable the Bangladeshi industries with more efficiently and lower trading cost, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is providing a USD1.5 million grant, to be administered by the Asian Development Bank through a technical assistance project.
Standard Chartered Bank and theIspahaniIslamia Eye Institute and Hospital have signed an agreement to aid in providingbasic cataract surgeries for underprivileged patients, as part of the 10th anniversary of the bank’s ‘Seeing is Believing’ programme.
New York-based Tau Investment Management Inc. has committed to raise USD1 billion to help Bangladesh and other garment-manufacturing nations construct factories that are safer for workers. The initiative called “Sew True: Investing to Upgrade the Apparel Supply Chain” is centred on renovating 25 Bangladesh garment factories with improvements in skill training and compensation; and then will be replicated to garment factories in Vietnam, China and Cambodia.
The technical assistance, supported by the ADB with a $21 M loan, will supplement efforts made under the SASEC Trade Facilitation Project. The project is aimed at removing the lack of customs automation and unavailability of one-stop shop for trade-related information, which currently is causing troubles for growth of trade.
In the agreement, credit card holders of Standard Chartered Bank can donate their 360-degree rewards points for basic cataract surgeries with regular lens to underprivileged patients at IspahaniIslamia Eye Institute and Hospital. Each cataract surgery costs 12,500 reward points.
The ADB will provide expertise and training for the improvement of border clearance processes in line with the Revised Kyoto Convention, an international agreement that provides standards and best practices on customs administration.
“For a decade now, Standard Chartered Bangladesh has been working to help restore eyesight of the underprivileged through the SiB initiative. This will also inspire our valued customers to participate in a noble cause," said Standard Chartered Bangladesh CEO McCabe, whowasthe first to donate for a cataract operation of an underprivileged patient from his credit card reward points.
“Improving the trade environment in Bangladesh through measures that will make exporting and importing faster and less costly would enhance the country’s competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors,” Teresa Kho, ADB country director for Bangladesh, said.
Created under Seeing is Believing,the bank’s banner project, this initiative is the first of its kind in Bangladesh.Signing the agreementwereBitopi Das Chowdhury, head of corporate affairs for Standard Chartered Bangladesh; and Steven Roy, CEO of IspahaniIslamia Eye Institute and Hospital.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Joint Secretary Saifuddin Ahmed and ADB Deputy Country Director for Bangladesh Stefan Ekelund signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations. ■
“Over the yearsStandard Chartered has provided support to the [hospital] so that underprivileged patients can have their sight restored, said Roy, who lauded the bank’s commitment asevident not only in its businessesbut also from its communityservice. ■
EIB approves loan to enhance Bangladesh power sector
Extended under EIB's Climate Change Mandate (2011-2013) for non-EU countries, the project will also contribute to climate change mitigation and improving the social and economic infrastructure in Bangladesh, which represents key priorities for EU and the bank.
Bangladesh will receive a EUR82 million loan from the European Investment Bank for a project that seeks to boost the country's power generation, transmission and distribution capacity. The loan will fund two specific projects under the programme: first, it seeks to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions, including the conversion of the Baghabari and Shagibacar gas-fired plants to combined-cycle power plants. This is expected to improve efficiency levels and increase generation capacity without any upswing in the amount of fuel used.
World Bank adds funds for higher education projects Two education-focused projects in Bangladesh have been approved for an additional USD390 million financing by the World Bank, aimed at supporting the national government’s effort in improving the sector. A $125 M fund will be earmarked for the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project to maintain the initiatives in improving the quality and relevance of teaching and research in the country's higher education institutions. The other $265 M, meanwhile, will be allocated for the Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project, supporting 4.5 million rural students to continue education at secondary level annually. It will also scale up activities in 125 current sub-district and 90 additional sub-districts to improve secondary education quality, systematically monitor learning outcome and ensure greater accountability at school level. "Investing in education is investing in any country's future. This project will continue to provide poverty-targeted stipends and tuition to girls and boys to increase access and retention,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Nepal. Academic innovation will also be promoted in the projects in both public and private universities through a competitive funding mechanism, called the Academic Innovation Fund—which includes an additional window to support stronger university-industry linkages to enhance chances for employment of the graduates. ■
five districts: Rangpur, Mymensingh, Madaripur, Comilla and Gopalganj. Those trained come from a range of organisations including non-government organisations, the ACC district staff, teachers, and members of Corruption Prevention Committees.
“The project shows the EIB’s commitment, together with other international financial institutions, in improving energy access essential to boost economic growth and raise the standards of living of the people of Bangladesh,” said EIB Vice-President and Asia Operations officer, Magdalena Alvarez. She added that sustainable access to the energy supply will also help avoid bottlenecks and enable more efficient and rational use of energy resources; thus reinforcing the positive effects in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Other institutions co-financing Bangladesh's $1.6 bn energy sector improvement programme are the ADB, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD); along with the government of Bangladesh and its agencies. ■
NGOs call for end on violence against children Country directors of six child-focused non-government organisations in Bangladesh have asked political parties to support a campaign to stop violence against children. In a joint statement, the organisations also urged the national human rights commission (NHRC) to play a strong role in this move so that no more children would be victimised in such atrocities. "Death of children during blockade is unacceptable. We expect responsible behaviour from the political parties by supporting legislation to protect our children," said Anwar Hossain Sikder (Plan International), Michael McGrath (Save the Children), Mahmudul Kabir (Terre Des Homes), Badiul Alam Majumder (Jatiyo Kannya Shishu Advocacy Forum), Emranul Haq Chowdhury (Child Rights Governance Assembly) and Farah Kabir (Action Aid). The group also demanded the authorities concerned to take appropriate action to provide improved treatment of children injured during the violence; ensure punishment to the people and political parties responsible for the crimes; declare school and play grounds as non-violent zones; and ban on all types of violent activities in areas frequented by children. ■
Tau Investment announced its commitment at the 9th Annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Meeting last September organised by former US President Bill Clinton. The meeting brought together heads of state, business leaders, non-profit organisations and celebrity-advocates from across the globe to discuss the pressing problems of the world like poverty, economic inequality and poor health care. “We see an investment opportunity in improving old factories that could be profitable to socially-conscious investors; and to update old machinery and energy sources such as diesel generators,” said Tau Investment founder Oliver Niedermaier. Under the project, Tau Investment draws on partnerships with apparel industry leaders, NGOs and policymakers to address the sector’s issues that include unsafe workplaces, forced and child labour, and environmental degradation. At the September meeting, members made over 160 new Commitments to Action, expected to impact about 22.2 million people and estimated to be worth more than $10.8 B. ■
Labour NGO reinstated after 3-year battle The Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS), whose registration status was stripped by the government in 2010, got its [registration] reinstated after a long battle against repression and harassment. "We know we need a long time to recover all things we lost in last three years but still these are good developments," said BCWS Executive Director Kalpona Akter, who thanked everyone who supported the group during the crisis, adding they only got reinstated because of the international pressure put on the government. The government stripped BCWS’s registration in June 2010, accusing the group of inciting unrest in garment factories. An internationally renowned labour organisation, BCWS carries out legitimate organising work and pushes for unions. No evidence was found to link the NGO to the unrest. BCWS and its employees faced harassment and repression from Bangladesh authorities since the accusations. Three of its members—Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter and Aminul Islam— spent 30 days in custody and fought off false legal charges. The Bangladeshi press reported that the charges against both Akters were withdrawn in July last year, but these reports were only confirmed through unofficial sources. Despite a letter asking for the withdrawal of all cases sent by the home minister the two workers are still listed in three legal cases. Islam, on the other hand, was reported to have been brutally tortured and murdered in 2012, over 18 months after his initial arrest. Circumstances of his death are still unknown and no one has been arrested or charged. BCWS continues to campaign for an impartial investigation into Islam’s death and are demanding that the government releases information on the suspects in the case. “This success has again proved we can fight against repression and can also win,” Akter added of the reinstatement, saying they can now dedicate all their energies to calling for safe workplaces, a strong worker voice and a decent wage for the country’s garment factory workers. (Clean Clothes)
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Coming together for the Philippines after Haiyan philanthropic foundation, the Abbott Fund, provided grants and healthcare products and funds to NGOs like CARE, Direct Relief, and the Philippine Red Cross. Bayer, which employs 900 workers in the country, gave direct immediate relief and reconstruction funds; and financial aid to the German Red Cross, as well as medicines to the Philippine Red Cross. JPMorgan Chase Foundation donated to the relief efforts of World Vision and Habitat for Humanity. The PepsiCo Foundation donated funds and teamed up with the American Red Cross, Give2Asia, Habitat and Save the Children. So did many other firms.
Volunteers from the Red Cross and many other NGOs, along with some corporate foundations for various relief missions to Haiyan-stricken provinces, delivering emergency water and food. (Image: Jarkko Mikkonen/Finnish Red Cross/Flickr)
Local companies, media outlets, individual and groups of artists, family and corporate foundations, and all of Philippine civil society put their hands together to pool money and goods for various NGOs. Thousands of Manila’s residents—even their friends from around the region and the visiting foreign nationals stranded in the typhoon—volunteered to help pack goods and transport them to relief centres.
the brunt of Haiyan’s 250-kilometre per hourstrong winds, storm surges and floods. Despite all glitches in communication, disrupted air and land travel, logistical challenges amid the rubbles, government bureaucracy and a recent blow to several local non-government organisations’ credibility in the country, corporate foundations and the non-profit sector in the country and from abroad came together—strong and quick. Gawad Kalinga, a local housing NGO, assembled hundreds of thousands of food packs and is now working on the reconstruction of homes. Volnteers of Tzu-Chi Foundation Philippines distributed relief goods and conducted medical missions in Ormoc (Leyte) and in the neighbouring municipalities of Isabela, Merida, and Albuera. Several others, such as Citizens’ Disaster Response Foundation, mobilised donors and volunteers to raise funds for restoration projects. World Vision provided food, clean water, and hygiene kits to survivors in Tabogon and Daan Bantayan, some of the hardest-hit towns in Northern Cebu; and sent relief assistance to almost half a million survivors in Leyte, Samar, Panay Islands, and Northern Cebu. Since they are a child-centred NGO, World it set up a childfriendly space in Northern Cebu, and more in Panay, Samar, and Leyte. UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, the UNFPA, Operation Compassion, and Malteser International Relief were some of the international organisations that held on-ground relief operations in the typhoon-hit areas. Oxfam, Save The Children, World Food Programme, AmeriCares and the International Red Cross, apart from directly bringing relief goods, also set up donating channels from across the globe to pool funds for various local NGOs. From November to January the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross have been providing clean water to 67,000 people and emergency health care to around 63,000. Both organisations have
Vocational skills training uplifts Cambodia women Tep Roeung’s family plunged into poverty when her husband abandoned her to care for her three children and elderly mother alone. Years before that, the young woman received an invite from the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs to attend a seminar on gender equality. With no instructions on how to apply for the course, she had little choice but to let the opportunity pass her by. In 2008, a potential break came for Roeung when her mother signed her up for a weaving initiative at the Siem Reap Women’s Development Center (WDC), newly established by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under a grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. The training lasted three months; after which, Roeung became a weaving trainer herself with WDC’s invitation. But the project ended in 2010, leaving Roeung again with no income. Undeterred, Roeung launched a small weaving
committed to helping communities rebuild their livelihoods in the longer term. Working with the Norwegian and Finnish Red Cross Societies, the ICRC has also set up emergency hospitals and basic health care units. "We will keep distributing food to affected communities for as long as needed, but we plan to help people get back on their feet through sustainable sources of income. These communities will need a lot of help to rebuild their lives," said Vincent Cassard, coordinator of the ICRC in Manila. In the aftermath of Haiyan, aid from foreign governments steadily poured into the country. As of this writing P21 B ($482.4 M) of cash and goods have been pledged to the Philippines; and P531.1 M ($12 M) already received from the governments of Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Luxembourg, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the US, the Vatican and Vietnam. Even countries like Algeria, Bangladesh, Botswana, Iraq, the Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Ukraine gave cash or non-cash donations. Likewise, contributions from the Arab Gulf Fund for UN Development (AGFUND), the ADB, the European Commission, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, UNICEF, UNOCHA and the World Food Programme are part of these pledges and aid received by the Philippine government.
By early-December, Metro Manila and Cebu saw another wave of aid: that coming from their own citizens. Homes opened for and vehicles shuttled arriving survivors from airports—most of whom were flown in by commercial airlines for free. They were now transporting and hosting over 5,000 families rescued from the affected provinces seeking temporary shelter (and needing care) while their hometowns are being re-built. NGOs and private companies have held job fairs both in the capital Manila and in the affected areas—to regenerate livelihood opportunities for the survivors. The national government in December estimated the cost for rehabilitation to be P41 B ($953 M), although it could still rise; with rehabilitation, according to them, expected to take at least five years. And while politics have remained a massive obstacle to efficient delivery of aid to the survivors, international organisations, along with local partners and volunteers across the country have not relented in fast-tracking rehabilitative efforts. This is not a simple track to take. While the world’s attention zoomed in on Haiyan and the long and hard five-year route to rehabilitate the affected areas, the national government will also need to collaborate with the private sector and NGOs for earlier calamities. There was the damage from the recent armed conflict in Zamboanga in September; by typhoon Nari (local name: Santi) in North Luzon and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu, both in October.
But what the world woke up to after Haiyan is this: no matter how hard the fall can be, the Filipinos cannot be easily shaken. There are countless stories of survival and courage; but there are even more tales of unity and compassion. With how NGOs, foreign governments, local and multi-national companies, aid agencies, volunteer groups and the civil society put their hands together for the survivors and victims of Haiyan, the role of the non-profit sector is clear: its works in disaster-vulnerable countries in Asia like the Philippines is indispensable. Global development may be its core value, but Haiyan reminded us that the civil society, often acting through NGOs, is what glues the world together. ■
Aid agreement inked by S. Korea, Kyrgyzstan South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev have signed an agreement on Seoul's greater development aid to the Central Asian nation, following a summit meeting between the two leaders. Atambayev was in Seoul in November for an official visit to South Korea, which will provide various assistance contracts to Kyrgyzstan to help reduce poverty and contribute to its social and economic development, under the a basic agreement on grant-type aid. In the agreement the South Korean government is urged to invite Kyrgyz citizens for free training in Seoul and other cities; to send professionals and volunteer workers to Kyrgyzstan; and provide free equipment and supplies for its development programmes in Kyrgyzstan. Since 1987 up to 2012, South Korea has already given a total of USD22 million in aid to Kyrgyzstan, including $8.6 M in grant-type aide. The rest was given in credit assistance. The two leaders also signed a deal that will allow holders of a driver's license in one nation to receive a driving permit in the other country without additional examinations. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding between the two governments was also sealed on expanding bilateral cooperation in the energy, natural resources and industrial sectors. ■
On top of all these, many of them sent ships and aircrafts full of relief goods, medical supplies and housing materials; along with medics and logistics support groups, emergency response teams and search and rescue personnel. Multi-national firms were particularly fast and efficient in sending aid. Abbott and its business making silk scarves using the money she had saved and with the help of her fellow graduates. But issues of quality control and market information forced Roeung to abandon her newfound skills and turn back to poorly paid and irregular work. But in 2011, opportunity came knocking once again when the WDC had joined forces with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). This time Roeung participated in more training in product design, along with dyeing and colouring techniques. The following year, she got a position at Artisans d’Angkor, a very successful Siem Reap-based social enterprise that offered on-the-job training and placed her in a production facility close to her village. In a few months, Artisans chose Roeung in a new collaboration with the WDC, to become a trainer developing new Ikat designs and knotting techniques using raw silk. Today, Roeung no longer finds the twin concepts of economic and social empowerment abstract ideas. Economically, her income is stable. Socially, Roeung is actively participating in an all-women producers’ group. Now she is always ready to help other women improve their vocational skills or even start their own businesses. (ADB) ■ 11
C o Ac u nrt o ry ssfe aa s ti au r e
Conditional cash transfer: viable development model? The Pantawid Pamilyang is a large-scale conditional cash transfer scheme in the Philippines that began as a pilot programme in 2008 covering just 6,000 households. A year on, its results were impressive enough for the government to instruct the social welfare and development department to rapidly expand it. Now covering over 3.93 M households across the country and estimated to have received a total budget of PHP120 billion ($2.8 B) by the end of 2013, it has been the largest social development programme in the country. "We had provided goods subsidies like cheap rice to poor communities, but they were very poorly targeted, presented a lot of challenges to deliver and there were a lot of observed 'leakage'. But based on the experience of other countries we see that the conditional cash transfer programme has been easier to administer; as it minimises the funds going to groups other than those targeted by the programme, which was one of the biggest differences to past efforts," Rodora Turalde-Babaran, national programme manager for Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino, is quoted by The Guardian. To qualify for the programme families are screened through a proxy means test using a survey, the national household targeting system for poverty reduction. Pregnant women and children 14 years and below were part of the criteria for eligibility. Recipients also need to agree to several conditions: 85% school attendance and twice-yearly deworming for children aged six to 14, 85% preschool attendance for children aged three to five, regular health checks from birth to age five; and for pregnant women, participation in pre- and post-natal check-ups and birth attended by a skilled health professional. As for the recipients’ parents, they should attend monthly family development sessions, a feature unique to the Philippines. The programme is supported by the ADB, World Bank, AusAID and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction; set to run for five years. But now, an extension of five more years is needed
just to cover the children from high school to their graduation, bringing it more in line with similar heavily-successful schemes like Brazil's Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Opportunidades. “Politicians still call it a dole-out, encouraging a culture of dependency among people who are so used to receiving favours from campaigning [politicians] in return for votes. Thus, we believe one reason local politicians are opposed to it is because it breaks that culture and cycle of patronage,” laments TuraldeBabaran. In effect, it is not a very easy model to sell at a development standpoint. A 2012 impact evaluation has proved the scheme achieves most of its key objectives—such as a steep increase in school enrollment for children compared to non-recipient households. Severe stunting was also cut down in recipient neighbourhoods. Thus, other countries in Asia are looking to learn from Pantawid either to improve their own national cash transfer programmes (Indonesia and Pakistan); or to begin developing social safety nets (Myanmar). Chris Spohr, ADB senior education economist, says that Pantawid, "although a magic bullet, it is a potentially important, effective tool that complements broader poverty eradication programmes." But local politicians aside, the programme also gets criticism from non-government organisations (notably the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, or the Centre of the Filipino Urban Poor) for “diverting funds that could have otherwise been used for job creation initiatives, and for racking up more external debt via development bank loans.” If Pantawid matures to its optimum goals it could be a breakthrough for the Philippines. With opposing views of the programme, however, the question lingers if it is a viable development model the region should adopt. But only if it is extended for another five years, we just might find out. ■
Closer look at women’s growing political representation Indonesia’s congressional elections in April will see the highest number of women candidates, with 38 per cent (or 2,511) of the 6,608 registered contenders being female. Thanks in large part to hard-won reforms by activists campaigning for increased requirements for women’s representation, the General Election Commission (KPU) now enforces a 30 per cent quota for women representation in political parties and candidates. Parties failing to meet these requirements have been disqualified from taking part in the elections. Although this indicates a step forward for women in Indonesian politics, a closer look at the actual situation is warranted. After the 2009 general elections, a record-high number of women were elected for national and local government positions—made possible through tireless advocacy by local and international civil society. Looking at the background of elected women, however, the picture becomes more complex. Some 41.7 per cent of female representatives elected in 2009 were either heiresses of political dynasties or part of powerful families. To meet the strict requirements, party elites often prefer to place female relatives on candidate lists instead of recruiting women from inside—let outside—party ranks. The Indonesian political party system encourages this structure, since political candidates have to contribute substantial financial amounts to run for office. This causes women candidates to be mainly from an elite background, with little or absent pro-poor agenda or genderinclusive perspectives.
It seems the civil society’s expectation to achieve more genderresponsive policies by increased women’s representation was premature, evidenced by the rise of regulations that discriminate against the rights of women and minorities. In West Java for instance, women representation jumped from 9 percent in the 2004 elections to 25 percent in 2009; but the province still suffers from higher-than-average rates of in human trafficking and maternal mortality. The National Commission of Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has recorded 342 discriminatory regulations in 2013—more than double than in 2009. The situation has not been improved by recent corruption cases involving a number of high profile women, confirming to the public that women politicians are just as likely as men to participate in transactional politics. Although signs are pointing towards a renewed increase for women representation in Indonesian politics after the 2014 elections, this recent history shows that it takes more than that to strengthen gender equality. Party structures and political institutions need to be monitored and supported to form a strong basis for women empowerment. Addressing these systemic issues require looking beyond gender-specific issues and enlisting capable female and male representatives into the cause. (The Asia Foundation)
Group farming, new products as a way out of poverty Common interest groups have been producing agriculture products in six north-western provinces in Vietnam with support from the World Bank to increase farmers' income, with over 6,000 of these groups now helping poor households through improved productivity and incomes. The Second Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project, a WBbacks initiative, supports the rural ethnic minorities and disadvantaged areas by also rehabilitating 3,800 km of roads and constructed a total of 1,500 metres of bridges to improve farm-to-market access. Lo Thi Tiep, a young farmer who sharing a home with her husband and two kids in a mud thatch house in Bung Lao commune, has lived below poverty line all her life. Since joining a women’s group in 2012 in the commune that raised hog to earn additional income, things changed drastically—for the better. “Our life was very difficult. Now, thanks to the pigs, we have some money to buy clothes for the children and send them to school,” says Tiep. Poor farmers in the Muong Khuong district of Lao Cai Province are also reaping the benefits from joining a group that works together to improve their livelihood. When they saw the
potential of growing chili peppers, they created a group that would help them increase harvests and market the product more effectively. Farmers are each given initial seedlings and fertiliser to start planting on 2,000 square metres of field. They are also given training in pruning and other techniques to help increase their chili’s productivity. They started their harvest in July 2012 and half a year later, each farmer has made between VND30 and 40 million ($1,500-2,000) from chili. Their income increased eight-fold from what they previously earned from growing corn on the same land area. “I noticed that many poor households with heavy debts were able to pay back thanks to the profit they made from growing chili,” says Thao Thi Lien, one of the group’s recent members, adding that chili plants are more resistant to disease and the price is stable. For farmers to really benefit from the programme, price manipulations by traders are prevented through an agreement with the local Muong Khuong General Trading Cooperative, which also processes the chili and markets chili paste to other provinces in Vietnam. (WB)
A S I A D E V E L OPM E N T S PE C I A L
Is it time to rethink intellectual property in developing countries? The patent office in Kenya, one of the most active patent offices in Africa, has issued a total of 589 patents since it started operating in 1991—an impossibly low figure compared to the 5,500 issued by the US patent office in a single week in 2013. Worse, in the 50 or so patents granted in Kenya each year, only an average of five or less are granted to local Kenyan organisations or individuals. Most are given to foreign pharmaceutical firms. But the low number of issued patents does not mean a lack of innovation or entrepreneurship in Kenya. Instead, it is attributed to a lack of patent expertise in the private sector, and a lack of available funds to acquire expensive patent drafting services from firms in Europe, Asia or India. Without access to proper patent drafting, it is difficult for the Kenyan patent office to identify applications that are fit for granting as patents; and thus diminishes the ability of local inventors to obtain patents. Subsequently, without patents, local inventors are not able to attract foreign investment and partnerships, and cannot establish companies that are based on intellectual property (IP) assets. Patent lawyers in patent-laden countries like the US, Japan and in the EU have science and law degrees. In Africa, lawyers with similar qualifications are found only in South Africa. Accordingly, the skills needed to protect innovations through well-drafted patents are almost non-existent. One way to address this issue is to train more people in Kenya and other countries in Africa (an Asia) in drafting and obtaining patents. But it will also take a long-term commitment to see the incentive of acquiring such skills. A good start would be to ask: is the western notion of patent rights the best system for Kenya or the developing world altogether; or could a different system in a localised context do a better job of promoting innovation? And if by adhering to Western-style patent system, it is also an issue whether African and Asian entrepreneurs, businesses, and inventors can play in the same patent system as corporate giants Google, IBM, and Pfizer do. "In developing countries poor people frequently find themselves in the dilemma of having to choose between the expensive original and the cheap illegal copy. The less privileged would then have stronger tendencies toward the latter. In this case, the need for novel business models that balance the needs of knowledge creators and users becomes evident, especially given the vast development of enabling technologies," Nagla Rizk, prominent Egyptian copyright IP scholar, was quoted by The Guardian in a recent article. In many countries in Asia and Africa today, 'Tripscompliant' intellectual property law is practised. Trips (Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) is a framework followed by all World Trade Organisation member countries and compliance requires IP laws largely similar to those of developed countries. So although differences may exist from one country to another, the IP laws of developing countries look like those in the US or Europe. This means that very little opportunity exists for countries to pattern their IP laws to meet their individual needs, unless they decide to withdraw from the WTO. Often, it is argued the existence of IP laws gives incentive to innovation. But when one takes into account the low number of patents in Kenya, the current high level of innovation cannot be linked to incentives offered by the Western-style patent regime currently in place. Despite the benefits of being a WTO member and the importance of safeguarding one's intellectual property, it cannot be denied that the Western patent model is not yet beneficial to most Kenyan entrepreneurs—and in many cases, across Asia, too. Africans, and the rest of the developing countries and even the emerging markets, should exploit the existing system and hope for the day when IP laws would be most helpful for them. But still, the goal is for the time to come when foreign investment in African-owned patent assets will exceed foreign aid. (With reports from Isaac Rutenberg/The Guardian)
CSR C Ac ORN r o Ess R asia
DEG, Bayer extend Cambodia agri-SME project A collaboration between the German Development Bank (DEG), Bayer Material Science and ASSIST Asia, culminated in October last year, has recently been extended until June to allow for and maximise its efforts in bringing energy-efficient solar drying systems to the agriculture sector of Cambodia, particularly agrirelated SMEs.
“Successful implementation of this project will encourage the installation of solar dryers for SMEs at the community level. Small investors will be more likely to venture into the innovative business model, with the support from local banks and financial instituions,” says Daniela Söhngen, senior investment manager of the DEG.
Initially to run from June 2012 to October 2013, the project seeks to promote a dramatic improvement on the practice of drying agricultural produce and seafood through the training of local consultants and industrial designers who can construct, install and maintain the solar dryer. The installation of pilot solar dryers will also increase the local technical know-how and attract and motivate other relevant stakeholders to engage in this venture.
Cambodia’s economy has achieved a steady growth for the past decade and is forecast to improve even more, with fisheries and agriculture two of the industries known to contribute the most to the country’s GDP and balance of trade. One of the oldest techniques employed for processing dried agricultural and seafood products is open sun drying. But it is also considered least efficient in terms of processing time and weight
loss of the end-product, and the least safe exposing products to various contaminants. More advanced techniques employed, such as electric or fuel heating and machine drying, are energyinefficient and have negative environmental impact. By improving the process and preventing post-harvest loss, this initiative helps SMEs reduce costs, generate more earnings and eventually grow as a business. It also enhances quality and global marketability of the dried products, providing the local industry more opportunities for export. It also creates a venue for collaboration, within the community, and between small investors and cooperatives in attaining sustainable community growth,” added Bagawathi Veeralakshmanan, Bayer Material Science’s Asia-Pacific director for business development. ■
Tapping a pool of disabled talent In response to growing interest from companies in Hong Kong to recruit disabled talent and the need to better understand the challenges disabled students face as they seek an employer, Community Business has launched last month a new study entitled Tapping into a Pool of Disabled Talent – Insights and Recommendations for Employers Based on Perspectives of Students with Disabilities in Hong Kong. The report highlights that when it comes to the recruitment of students with disabilities, companies should recognise that these students are determined and ambitious, develop a targeted approach, can take the lead and provide support and opportunities, and are able to demonstrate commitment.
Asian, Indian companies join UNDP’s Business Call to Action
“Students with disabilities, who have made it through to university by their determination, optimism and work ethics, are a talent pool worthy of consideration based on merit. Sharing experiences and perspectives from a significant sample of these students in Hong Kong, we hope this study will provide valuable insights to employers looking to market and differentiate their companies as an employer of choice for this talent pool,” said Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business. Over 70% of students with disabilities are considering a career in the corporate sector. From these students, selecting an employer, nature of work, long-term career opportunities and training and development are most the important selection criteria. Few students with disabilities participate in graduate recruitment fairs so companies relying on these methods alone may be missing out on opportunities of reaching disabled talent. By making it easy for candidates to disclose their disability, publishing clear information on corporate websites about what a specific role entails, profiling and sharing the stories of existing disabled employees and providing a hotline or single point
of contact for a disabled candidate to reach out to during the recruitment process. Companies that take the lead in offering opportunities to people with disabilities, in addition to accessing a broader talent pool, are rewarded by a positive impact on productivity, performance and brand equity. Community Business hopes more companies will be actively involved in efforts to increase employment opportunities for students with disabilities—not just in Hong Kong, but across Asia. “Raising awareness for diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance is a mission that resonates with the values and culture within our organisation. We believe equality of opportunity is the key to success. Research works like this reaffirms the importance inclusivity in creating a working environment that offers everyone equality of opportunity,” said Philippe El-Asmar, Barclays head of distribution for Asia-Pacific. Barclays, along with BNY Mellon and CLP Holdings Limited, sponsored the research and a forum last month. The report is available for download at www. communitybusiness.org. ■
Japanese food ingredient corporation Ajinomoto, global life and material sciences multinational DSM and international beauty product retailer L’Occitane have joined the UNDP-backed Business Call to Action, pledging on working towards financially inclusive business models, which offer commercial as well as development success. Ajinomoto employs women in key positions in its sales force for fortified products, strengthening the message on nutrition for weaning infants. “Contributing to improve global nutrition is one core mission of Ajinomoto Group. We are pleased to expand our commitment and programmes in Ghana to help nourish and build the capacity of its child and mother population, as a BCtA initiative," said Masatoshi Ito, president and CEO of Ajinomoto. L’Occitane’s is employing rural women in Burkina Faso for the sustainable harvest of shea butter nuts, placing strong emphasis on reducing manual labour requirements and promoting a participatory management system. “After 20 years of a co-development partnership with the women of Burkina Faso, L’occitane is going further in sustainability. We are also implementing a three-year environmental and social programme to preserve the precious ancestral savoir-faire, while offering added high-value opportunities,” said Maud Reboul, Sustainable Ingredients Manager. In Indonesia, where a third its population under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, Royal DSM is aiming to reach 30,000 of Jakarta’s children through a nutrition-focused food delivery project. “By enhancing access to nutrition through affordable, high-quality products in street carts, and by employing the residents of these communities for this project, DSM is committed to both a business and social impact,” said Hazvinei Mugwagwa, programme manager for DSM’s Nutrition Improvement Programme. Meanwhile, FINO PayTech, India’s leading alternate channel for banking services and payment technologies, has also announced it will join the BCtA to increase its financial inclusion efforts in the country. Its commitment to BCtA includes expanding its existing business and banking platforms and branchless banking solutions in rural India. “We are pleased to be associated with the BCtA as it provides FINO PayTech a strategic advantage of sharing ideas with experts on a global platform. This is also in line with our commitment towards making complete financial inclusion a reality,” said Mujahid Ahsan, product vice-president for FINO. Founded in 2006 has headquartered in Mumbai, FINO PayTech is India’s pioneer for branchless banking. It was created by a consortium of banks and other financial institutions, and acts as a technology and operations provider, connecting financial services providers and their customers. As part of its BCtA pledge, it aims to serve 100 million under-banked customers and to expand its services to 500 districts, both by 2015. FINO PayTech designs and develops its services with the needs of poor, often illiterate, rural Indian population in mind. “Through its unique concept of branchless banking and interest in deploying special technologies for the underserved market, FINO is on the cutting edge to enable financial inclusion in India; and we are pleased to have them join the Business Call to Action and share their critical expertise in the country’s employment and financial inclusion efforts. We are encouraged by the company’s technology products and services that will go a long way to bridge the bankedunbanked gap,” said Sahba Sobhani, BCtA’s acting programme manager. At least 82 companies have already joined the BCtA and pledged developing commercially viable ventures that engage low-income people as consumers, producers, suppliers, and distributors of goods and services. Among the other global names that have joined the BCtA are Barclays, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Ericsson, Ikea, Microsoft, Pepsi Co., Pfizer Standard Chartered, monster.com, Muji, Novartis, Thomson Reuters and Vodafone. Apart from AusAID, the BCtA has also the support and collaboration of the UKaid, the USAID, the UNDP and the Clinton Foundation. To find out more about the Business Call to Action or to get your company involved, visit www.businesscalltoaction.org. (CSRwire) www.asianngo.org
TOOL AND E SaO C o Su n t r y Rfe tU uR rC e ES from page 1
Social Innovation Summit 2013: fund new initiatives, create more partnerships Social Innovation Summit last 19-20 November at Stanford University in California.
be connected—so we will all be connected,” he summed his session.
Bringing wayward thinkers together, the second SIS hosted top executives and thought leaders from across the globe discussing opportunities to leverage technology, innovation and philanthropy to affect social change; and analyse innovative approaches for problem-solving and build lasting partnerships enabling them and their organisations to discover new methods of engaging with social challenges.
Apart from Fuller, Vanides and Evans, this year’s summit gathered personalities in the corporate, non-profit and philanthropic sectors like Lois Backon, executive director for global philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase; Talya Bosch, VP for social ventures at Western Union; John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation; Olivier Delarue, lead for innovation of the UNHCR; Meg Garlinghouse, head of LinkedIn for Good; Lori Harnick, general manager of Microsoft’s Citizenship and Public Affairs; Mark Hass, president and CEO of Edelman; Wendy Hawkins, executive director for Intel Foundation; Chris Librie, HP Corporate Affairs’ senior director for strategy; Karen Newman, senior advisor to the UNDP; Katherine Pickus, VP for the Abbott Fund; Shannon Schuyler, Head of CSR for PricewaterhouseCoopers; Michael Smith, director for the White House’s Social Innovation Fund; Dalila Wilson-Scott, president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation; and many others in the the impressive roster of speakers and moderators.
Lifeshelter: innovative and sustainable temporary housing
“One thing that sets the Social Innovation Summit apart is its bias towards action. We always like to challenge our delegates and partners to reach out to someone they met at the event, and build a relationship. We would like to see them invite partners to join in their initiatives, or visit them to learn more about their works. Create partnerships and fund new initiatives. The possibilities for collaboration are endless” said Zeev Klein, cofounder and curator of the Social Innovation Summit
Doors, windows and openings are protected against mosquitoes, flies and other disease vectors; and impede the entry of crawling insects; although it is also possible to hang mosquito nets with both a single fixing and multiple fixings. The shelter, with all doors and windows closed, can withstand a wind speed of 45 m/s in any direction; temperatures ranging from 55° to -30° C; and 300 N/m2 of snow loading. After application of the load, the minimum lifetime of the structure is five years but at any time can be retracted back to its original shape and position without damage or changes reducing the functional capacity.
In “Connected World,” one of the plenary sessions and moderated by Google’s Director of Giving Jacquelline Fuller, discussions focused on how current and future technologies that are disrupting poverty. She identified the top three important trends that are ‘particularly ripe’ in addressing poverty to be mobile technology, crowd-sourcing and big data. "People want to give online. Technology at its best is an elegant solution that allows people to do what they want to do. Today's cell phone technology is more powerful than that used to send the 1st people to the moon,” Fuller said, citing technology for social impact as a key trend. Jim Vanides, Global Social Innovation programme manager, also put forward that social innovation is not running after bright shining objects but working on scaling what’s promising. “How do we fix broken philanthropic organisations? We pay for success but should also remove policy barriers. We just have to do more and try new things,” Vanides noted. Cisco’s Chief Futurist, Dave Evans, meanwhile, analysed the trends and technologies that predict what will come next in and across various industries. He also led a thought-provoking discussion on population and migration trends, and what the impact will be on global food and water supply and health care systems. “Now that people are connected, more things will
The next Social Innovation Summit will be hosted at the United Nations in May. To find out more about this event or to register as speaker, sponsor, content partner or participant; or to follow updates and output from this year’s summit, visit at www. eiseverywhere.com. ■
As remedy to the growing need for temporary shelter for displaced groups in conflict zones or disaster-stricken areas, BestNet presents a new and innovative shelter product and concept: Lifeshelter—an easy-to-assemble, durable, mobile and reusable, well-insulated and safe housing.
BestNet is now working on settling Lifeshelter field tests in a cold climate and in a warm climate, and it will be available to the public in the first quarter of this year. For more information or to contact BestNet for enquiries, visit www.bestneteurope. com. ■
Cal e ndar o f e v e nts 3 - 5 January 2014
15 February 2014
International Conference on Environment and Sustainable Technologies - 2014 Manipal, Karnataka, India
World Training and Development Congress Taj Lands End, Mumbai, India
4 - 5 January 2014
2014 3rd International Conference on Climate Change and Humanity - ICCCH 2014 Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens, Australia
4 - 5 January 2014
2014 4th International Conference on Future Environment and Energy-ICFEE 2014 Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens, Australia
6 - 8 January 2014
Programme on “Utilisation of grant-in-Aid schemes of the Government Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, Circular Road, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110 021, India
9 - 11 January 2014
2014 Annual Conference on Children, Women, and Social Studies Renaissance Seoul Hotel, Seoul, South Korea
13 - 16 January 2014
2014 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference Zaragoza, Spain
17 January 2014
17 - 18 February 2014 World CSR Day Taj Lands End, Mumbai, India
19 - 21 February 2014
2014 3rd International Conference on Clean and Green Energy-ICCGE 2014 Hotel Royal, Singapore
21 - 23 February 2014
2014 International Conference on Renewable Energy (ICRE 2014) The Pride Hotel, Pune, India
21 - 23 February 2014
The 27th Annual Camden Conference: “The Global Politics of Food and Water” Camden Opera House, Camden Maine, USA
21 - 23 February 2014
World PR & Social Media China Focus 2014 Best Western Hotel, Shanghai, China
The 27th Annual Camden Conference: “The Global Politics of Food and Water” Camden Opera House, Camden Maine, USA
18 - 24 January 2014
24 - 25 February 2014
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2014 Abu Dhabi, UAE
Annual International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Sciences (SEES) 2014 Hotel Fort Canning, 11 Canning Walk Singapore 178881
20 - 22 January 2014
World Future Energy Summit 2014 Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, UAE
1 - 3 March 2014
22 - 25 January 2014
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 Davos-Klosters, Switzerland
29 - 31 January 2014
International Conference on Harnessing Natural Resources for Sustainable Development- Global Trend Panzabar, Guwahati, Assam - 781 001, India
30 - 31 January 2014
ICEESD: International Conference on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development 2014 Crowne Plaza Dubai – Deira Salahuddin Road, Deira P.O. Box 8668, Dubai, UAE
7 - 8 February 2014
One Globe - Uniting Knowledge Communities 2014 The Imperial New Delhi Janpath, New Delhi, 110001 India
14 - 15 February 2014
International Conference on Business, Management and Corporate Social Responsibility (ICBMCSR'14) Batam, Indonesia
5 - 7 March 2014
Education and Development Conference 2014 Bangkok, Thailand
7 - 8 March 2014
International Conference on Women Empowerment 2014 HM Conference Hall, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India
7 - 8 March 2014
India Today Conclave 2014 Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, India
9 - 11 March 2014
7th PSPC - Poverty and Social Protection Conference 2014 Bangkok, Thailand
10 - 12 March 2014
8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference Valencia, Spain
11 - 13 March 2014
Fifth International Conference on Water Resources and Hydropower Development in Asia Colombo, Sri Lanka
17 - 19 March 2014
2014 Biennial Conference on Sustainable Business, Energy and Development in Asia Hiroshima, Japan
20 - 21 March 2014
Forests Asia Conference: Sustainable Landscapes for Green Growth in ASEAN Shangri-la Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
24 - 26 March 2014
5th WLEC - Women's Leadership and Empowerment Conference 2014 Hotel Royal Benja, Bangkok, Thailand
USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants & Cooperative Agreements Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2 - 4 March 2014 The 2014 Conference on Education and Human Development in Asia Hiroshima, Japan
Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference & Exhibition - DIHAD 2014 Dubai, UAE
3 - 4 March 2014
Focus on the Future: Empowering Agents of Change San Jose, Costa Rica
4 - 5 March 2014
First Global Conference on UN Partnership for Action on Green Economy Dubai, UAE
25 - 27 March 2014
26 - 27 March 2014
AIDF Water Security Summit: Asia 2014 Bangkok, Thailand
29 - 30 March 2014
International Conference on Food Security and Nutrition Golden River-view Hotel, Shanghai, China
4 - 5 March 2014
Indian Sustainability Congress Vivanta By Taj, MG Road, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
For further information and more events, visit www.asianngo.org 14
t o o l s a n d r es o u r ces Ac r o ss a s i a available grants Pre-Qualification for Design, Procurement, Construction, Testing and Commissioning of Substations (Individual Consultant) Donor: Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Country: Iran Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Energy Application Deadline: 20 January 2014
Rehabilitation of Kafarchima laboratory (Works and Services Contract)
Donor: Europe Aid Country: Lebanon Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Infrastructure Application Deadline: 20 January 2014
Supplying Aerial bundled Conductors (Goods Procurement) Donor: World Bank Country: Vietnam Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Energy Application Deadline: 20 January 2014
Yeni Ambarli-Yeni Bosna GIS Underground Power Cable Connection (Goods Procurement) Donor: World Bank Countries: Turkey Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Energy Application Deadline: 22 January 2014
Procurement, Transportation and Installation of Equipment for Substations (Goods Procurement) Donor: World Bank Country: Vietnam Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Energy Application Deadline: 22 January 2014
Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development, InCountry Interventions (Grant) Donor: EuropeAid Country: Myanmar Grant Value: USD6.5 M Area(s) of Interest: Public Sector Management and Governance Application Deadline: Public Sector
National Support Programme for Village Development (Consultancy) Donor: AusAID Country: Timor-Leste Grant Value: USD10 M Area(s) of Interest: Community Development Application Deadline: 23 January 2014
Natural Gas Access Improvement Project (Works and Services)
Donor: Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country: Bangladesh Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Oil Gas Mining Application Deadline: 23 January 2014
EU Centre for Support to EU SMEs in China (Grant)
Donor: EuropeAid Country: China Grant Value: USD8.1 M Area(s) of Interest: Industry and Trade Application Deadline: 13 February 2014
Submarine Cable Connection (Goods Procurement)
Donor: World Bank Country: Turkey Grant Value: Not specified Area(s) of Interest: Technology Application Deadline: 19 February 2014
Quality Improvement of Padjadjaran University ProjectBandung (Works and Services Contract) Donor: Islamic Development Bank Country: Indonesia Grant Value: USD35.23 Area(s) of Interest: Education Application Deadline: 30 May 2014
Development and Quality Improvement of IAIN Sunan Ampel Surabaya (Works and Services Contract)
Donor: Islamic Development Bank Country: Indonesia Grant Value: USD35 M Area(s) of Interest: Infrastructure, Education Application Deadline: 31 May 2014
For further information and more grants, visit www.asianngo.org from page 1
EU to set up support centre for EU-China SMEs investment of its SMEs to China. Deadline for application is 13 February 2014. “The EU SME Centre intends to achieve this by helping European SMEs overcome barriers and constraints they face in their efforts to invest in or export to the Chinese market,” EuropeAid, in a statement, said. Given the economic potential and size of the Chinese market, the European Parliament decided to finance the Centre to tackle the extent of difficulties faced by SMEs in accessing the Chinese [market] and the gaps in existing business support system. Between 2007 and 2011, average annual trade between the EU and China grew by 8.9 per cent; compared to the global EU trade that grew only 4.7 per cent annually. In the same period, China’s exports to Europe grew by 16.5 per cent annually; although this growth dropped by 13 per cent in 2009 because of the crisis. By 2012 the EU imported €290 B worth of goods from China, while it exported € 143.9 B worth of goods to China. Similarly, Europe is among top five sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) to China, representing a fifth of the Asian giant’s total inward FDI. Despite low FDI from China into Europe, Chinese investment in the region grew rapidly since the 2008 crisis. At the moment, European companies need to overcome obstacles ranging from gaining market information, locating suitable partners and finding possible customers to more complex issues such as compliance with foreign laws. Additional issues that concern international businesses in China are the lack of a level playing field for foreign companies, subsidies and access to financing issues, intellectual property www.asianngo.org
rights issues, transparency and predictability in government and policy-making. In effect, EU SMEs are unable to engage successfully the Chinese market. On the other hand, some of the main barriers for China, as identified by EU SMEs, are the lack of knowledge of foreign or European language(s), inadequate market information, the difficult bureaucratic procedures in establishing business relation, and very different business culture, laws and regulations. The Centre is thus expected to improve general knowledge among EU SMEs of the opportunities of the Chinese market and the relevant challenges and successfully supported EU SMEs intending to do or expand business in China. It shall develop active links with EUbased and intermediary organisations to ensure significant outreach and marketing of its services to SMEs, particularly those based in the EU and having no China operations yet; and facilitate better coordination with similar actions in Asia and EU, including coordination on policy and strategy. The Centre shall also generate income so as to be in position to support EU SMEs, when EU the co-financing agreements cease. The call for application is open to individuals or institutions, both in the public and private sector and including SMEs) offering non-individualised services for promoting trade and investment between Europe and China, registered in either China or in the EU. Furthermore, applicants are to establish a technical expert team to facilitate implementation. Chambers of commerce, sector specific trade, industrial and professional associations, employers’ federations, business intermediary non-governmental organisations and other sector-specific agencies supporting SMEs in their trade are encouraged to apply. For more information on this grant and obtain the full application guidelines and package, visit www.asianngo.org or www.webgate.ec.europa. eu/europeaid. ■ 15
ra es C o u nfe t rayt u fe ture from page 1
Survey sheds light on the dark figure of modern-day slavery measures, such as the amount of human trafficking from and to a country. Aside from estimating the prevalence of slavery worldwide, the Global Slavery Index also tries to assess the risk of enslavement, and government responses for key countries.
Thailand has 500,000; Myanmar 400,000; Bangladesh 360,000; while Nepal has 270,000 and ranks high in terms of prevalence. African countries also ranked high in prevalence of slavery are Benin, the Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mauritania, Senegal and Sudan. The Walk Free Foundation, seeking to end modern-day slavery, has created a ranking of 162 countries, according to number of enslaved people, risk of enslavement and government response.
"There is no index out there, which is critical to measure the scale of the problem because that informs policy responses. Measuring a hidden crime is very challenging, but we can measure domestic abuse and drug trafficking. A lot of it boils down to taking the best data on reported issues and looking at the scale of the unreported or 'dark' problems." added Grono.
"Many are surprised to hear that slavery still exists. People are controlled by violence, tricked or are forced into jobs and situations where they are economically exploited. They live with no pay or base subsistence and they're not free to leave. Modern slavery merely reflects all the characteristics of slavery of past centuries,” said Nick Grono, CEO of the Walk Free Foundation.
The study offers data to anti-slavery campaigners who have long argued that without knowing the scale of the problem, it is impossible to take suitable actions. But the Walk Free Foundation admits that research on modern slavery still has a long way to go, with more sample surveys needed from more countries. Likewise, different research methods should be applied to different countries, since instances of slavery in the UK are not the same as in Pakistan.
For the first time in Europe and the UK the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index has calculated a “dark figure” for slavery—the difference between the number of unreported crimes and those in official records. The research also uses a small range of existing surveys from countries including Haiti, Moldova and Niger, to derive the likely prevalence of slavery in countries around the world. This estimate is complemented by secondary research and adjusted to match other
To follow updates on the Global Slavery Index, visit www. globalslaveryindex.org. (AFP/The Guardian)
from page 1
NGOs, CSOs optimise ICT to curb corruption Forms of corruption were identified to be giving bribes and kickbacks to various forms of authority, setting up front companies, rigging bids or collusive agreements, the use of ‘loan brokers’ and commissioners, entering into agreements with obvious conflicts of interest, theft from local accounts and abuse of project assets and fraud, forgery or misrepresentation. In last December’s International Anticorruption Week, Lani Azarcon (World Bank) and Haidy Ear-Dupuy (ADB) presented ICT solutions undertaken by NGOs and the civil society groups to keep watch of and curb corruption in their governments and private companies. This is a response to the growing concern of large multi-national firms hesitating to begin or expand operations in their Asian markets. “Corruption is the cancer on effective development, impeding quality, range and sustainability of results. Every year over USD1 trillion are paid in bribes out of a world economy of just over $30 tn, equaling 3% of the world’s economy. And
because corruption hardly leaves a trail it is very hard to see, detect, investigate and substantiate,” remarked Azarcon in her presentation. As a first step, citizens in the developing regions can now use web portals to track levels and practices of corruption in their communities. In India, for example, a web-based tool (www. ipaidabribe.com) allows the public to report—even anonymously— having paid or been coerced to pay bribes to public officials or company executives from across different sectors. Last year in June in Nigeria, the West African NGO Network also launched an online portal called the Anti-Corruption Internet Database (or ACID, www.antigraft.com), the country’s first web tool for its citizens to report cases of corruption. It also allows users to monitor the progress of public projects, and outlines cases of corruption rectified. In Cambodia, after years of strife, www.sithi.org provides a
visual mapping and documentation of human rights violations in chronological order, sorted by community. Indonesia’s LAPOR (www.lapor.ukp.go.id), meanwhile, enables users active reporting via short message sending (SMS), harnessing the high usage of mobile technology in the region. Other similar tools are Bangladesh’s Human Rights Portal (www.banglarights.net), India’s government and CSO partnership (www.fundaschool. org) and the Philippines’s Transparent Accountable Governance project (www.tag.org.ph). Although not entirely a new concept, having been used in the US (Open Government Initiative) and the UK (www.gov.uk) for decades now, online tools allow citizens and NGOs track and report corruption at a local and national level, giving them and the local and foreign companies a good sense of vigilance and preparedness in dealing with those who do business in their communities. More importantly, being aware of—and, ultimately, pro-actively vigilant—over the issue is a huge step that the civil society can make in ensuring transparency and accountability in the works of their partners in collaborative efforts for development. ■