New anti-poverty drive
Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York on July 31, UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, called for a “new global alliance” in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Describing progress on meeting the goals as “slow and uncertain”, Brown declared that “urgent action” was needed if they were going to be achieved by the 2015 deadline. Brown insisted that governments could not achieve the targets without help from NGO’s, companies, faith groups as well as consumers and citizens.
Contact 10 Downing Streetwww.pm.gov.uk
CSR in new EU member states and candidate countries
The UN Development Programme has published a study that considers the level of corporate social responsibility practices in the new EU member states and candidate countries. The study – Baseline Study on CSR Practices in the New EU Member States and Candidate Countries – presents the main actors involved in CSR activities in these areas, a detailed analysis of company engagement in the field, the development of country-level indicators and also presents recommendations based on the findings of baseline research. The countries looked at are Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The study was funded by the European Commission and the UNDP.
Contact UNDP 001 212 906 5000 www.undp.org
GM sugar beet
Over the last ten years agrochemical company Syngenta has been developing a crop known as tropical sugar beet, which has just recently entered commercial production for the first time. Delivering similar output yields to sugar cane, sugar beet can be used for conversion to biofuels as well as processed to produce sugar for food. Syngenta has introduced the crop in India claiming that it will bring “significant agronomic, environmental and output advantages to Indian farming and the Indian economy”.
The crop requires less water to grow compared to sugar cane, it grows faster and can be harvested quicker. Announced by Syngenta on August 28, two projects were launched in India at two different locations – Sugar for Food and Sugar for Fuel. The Indian government has expressed an interest in the product’s potential to support growth in Indian agriculture.
Contact Syngenta 0041 613 232 323 www.syngenta.com
CSR in Singapore and Hong Kong
The environment, health and safety and corporate governance are the most important corporate social responsibility issues for companies in Singapore and Hong Kong according to a survey from information provider, CSR Asia.
The survey forms part of CSR Asia’s ongoing research into ethical business behaviour in the Asia-Pacific region and also found that stakeholders and companies are broadly in agreement over which issues are the most important. Over 600 people from business, NGO, the media, academia, investor as well as public sectors helped to compile the list.
Contact CSR Asia 00852 3579 8079 (Hong Kong office) 0065 6438 0677 (Singapore Office) www.csr-asia.com
Sustainable growth in Asia
At an International Labour Organisation conference in Beijing, the organisation’s director-general called for sustainable approach to development in Asia. He especially emphasised job creation citing it as a driver in enabling a decent standard of living.
During the conference the delegates also collaborated in assessing a new ILO report that focuses on the environmental and social challenges that will arise from the inevitable and massive increase in the labour force. The report calls for improved labour market governance, improved adherence to international labour standards and improved accountability and transparency. The Asian Forum on Growth was the first significant meeting of its kind in Asia, which included senior members of governments, employer and labour representatives as well as NGO’s.
Contact ILO 0041 22 799 6111 www.ilo.org
UN-HABITAT water alliance
The United Nations Human Settlement Program, UN-HABITAT, announced on August 15 the launch of a new Global Water Operations Partnership Alliance. The alliance’s mission is to improve access to water and sanitation for some of the world’s poorest people. It will be a worldwide network designed to support water and sanitation operators. The executive director of UN-HABITAT said that there needed to be capacity building among the public and private sectors as well as NGO’s if the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without access to clean water is to be met.
Contact UN-HABITAT 001 212 963 4200 www.unhabitat.org
Support for Azerbaijan
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide $2m in loans to the Bank of Baku, a bank in Azerbaijan, expressly for lending to local businesses, with the International Cooperation and Development Fund Taipei China also providing $1m.
The EBRD hopes that by strengthening the lending capacity of local banks, access to funding for small and medium sized enterprises will be improved and sustainable growth encouraged.
Contact EBRD 020 7338 6000 www.ebrd.com