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Promoting Sustainable and Responsible Business in Asia and the Pacific

The Role of Government

image of Promoting Sustainable and Responsible Business in Asia and the Pacific
This policy-oriented paper identifies initiatives that policy-makers in the Asia Pacific region should duly consider for promoting CSR practices, at both the regional and national levels, and spanning domestic SMEs to large MNEs. The initiatives are diverse in focus and scope, although there is one common denominator: virtually none can be enacted by government alone. Any initiative to promote sustainable and responsible business needs to be sustainable in itself, and that in turn necessitates the active engagement and tangible inputs of the business community.

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CSR promotion activities that have been pursued by governments and related agencies thus far

As other analyses have noted before now, the kinds of CSR promotion activities that governments pursue tend to fall into one of the following five categories of intervention: i) as a vision leader; ii) as a leader by example and CSR ‘endorser’; iii) as a facilitator; iv) as a catalyst or partner; or v) as a conventional regulator (also sometimes referred to as ‘mandating’). Figures 2 and 3, below, provide broadly similar representations of these categories, with some indicative examples. In terms of a vision leader, Bhutan’s ‘Gross National Happiness’ Commission is perhaps one of the most ambitious examples at present, with its attempt to mainstream sustainable development issues throughout all policy-making, including those policies and regulations pertaining to business activity. In terms of a leader and endorser, numerous governments run national award programmes intended to raise awareness of CSR and publicly commend those companies that have made the biggest strides in this field. As a facilitator, there is much that government agencies can do to promote CSR through various capacity building initiatives, stimulating market demand, and linking CSR practices to its own procurement policies, and other fields where government agencies – such as export credit bodies – interact closely with business. As a catalyst or partner, governments often have resources that can be directed towards CSR-related projects, including publicprivate partnership (PPP) projects of various kinds. Finally, as a conventional regulator, Malaysia introduced in 2008 a law that effectively obliges all publicly traded companies to report annually on their CSR activities. Some of these are profiled in more detail in chapter 5.

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