On 27th-28th May, the Embassy of Sweden in Thailand convened more than 150 participants to explore the development of meaningful partnerships and relations between businesses, civil society and government. On the behalf of the Embassy, CSR Asia helped to organizethe regional workshop titled “Partners in Rights – Promoting Regional Environmental Sustainability and Human Rights through Innovative Relationships between Businesses, Civil Society and Governments”.
by Clelia Daniel [email protected]
On 27th-28th May, the Embassy of Sweden in Thailand convened more than 150 participants to explore the development of meaningful partnerships and relations between businesses, civil society and government. On the behalf of the Embassy, CSR Asia helped to organizethe regional workshop titled “Partners in Rights – Promoting Regional Environmental Sustainability and Human Rights through Innovative Relationships between Businesses, Civil Society and Governments”. The event has gathered different actors with the hope to capitalize on the growing recognition that economic development can be attained in ways that respect human rights, the environment and gender issues.
The workshop has discussed how to address these issues by creating innovative alliances between stakeholders in Asia. KlasMolin, Swedish Ambassador to Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Lao PDR who took part to both days of the event said: – “I see more and more examples of businesses wanting to engage with civil society – and vice versa. I hope that this will lead to more mutual understanding as well as more shared recognition of the importance of inclusive growth, human rights and environmental sustainability. I also hope it will lead to more and stronger partnerships between the different stakeholders”.
Traditionally there has often been an implicit assumption that development and poverty alleviation requires us to think about trade-offs between economic development, human rights and the environment. Yet it is increasingly evident that economic development can be attained in ways that meet the needs of rights-holders, safeguard the environment and empower vulnerable groups. This beneficial evolution – from trade-offs to win-win situations – is often spearheaded by progressive companies who have developed partnerships with civil society organisations (CSOs) as way to enhance their understanding of local contexts, develop innovative inclusive business models, create gender equality, engage local communities, reduce commercial risks and contribute to local development without degrading the environment or committing human rights abuses.
An important point of departure for the workshop was the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the UN Guiding Principles or UNGPs) as a framework for understanding various actors’ roles and responsibilities to promote poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The UNGPs are a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UNGPs, making the framework the first corporate human rights responsibility initiative to be endorsed by the United Nations.
“Sweden is among the first countries to develop a National Action Plan in accordance with UNGP’s framework, and it is encouraging that similar discussions on Action Plans for implementing the UNGPs are taking place in the this region” says Ambassador Molin.
The Embassy of Sweden has encouraged the private sector to take on a role in development in Asia in order to create sustainable solutions to regional challenges. Through partnership building, the objective is to leverage the contribution of the private sector to regional poverty reduction and to promote inclusive and environmentally sustainable business models that enable people living in poverty to improve the quality of their lives. This growing area of work is based on the recognition that the international donor community, business community and CSOs need to partner in order to tackle challenges such as poverty, gender inequality, environmental degradation and climate change.
Sweden is keen to continue to promote this mainstreaming of environmental sustainability and human rights into the region’s development process and the Partners in Rights workshop was an important part of this strategy.
The presentations of this event will soon be made available at http://www.swedenabroad.com/en-GB/Embassies/Bangkok/Development-Co operation/Annual-Workshop-sys/