Monday, December 14, 2015

Singapore Creative CSR Awards: Entries open

Pleased to share that CSRWorks is supporting Singapore Creative CSR Awards as a strategic partner as well as advisors for the Awards.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

5 Things You Should Know About The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015

The recently announced Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards (ASRA) have created a lot of buzz among the sustainability reporters and professionals. Here are the 5 things you may not know about the #ASRA Awards:

  1. The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015, the first edition, are the only Asia-level sustainability reporting awards. The awards' mission is to becoming the most inspiring recognition for sustainability reporting excellence. The Awards will be offered annually.
  2. The Awards will be judged by an independent panel of international judges with distinguished backgrounds. The judging panel information is available on the Awards website.
  3. The Awards are being offered in 14 categories. Sustainability topics may be unique to a company, sector or country. The range of categories means no aspect of sustainability excellence is left out.
  4. The Awards are a not-for-profit multi-stakeholder initiative led by Singapore's leading sustainability advisory firm CSRWorks International. According to CSRWorks, “the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards will create a much needed platform for sharing best practices, bench marking and peer learning by bringing together the leaders in sustainability reporting. Moreover, the Awards will provide an excellent opportunity to organisations to showcase their sustainability excellence and build trust among their stakeholders. ” Those who wish to support, sponsor or partner the Awards are welcome to be part of the initiative.
  5. The entry fee for the Awards is kept at minimal to just cover the admin expenses and the cost of the Awards Function Gala Dinner for the participating companies.
If you support and encourage sustainability disclosure by companies, please help create awareness about these awards and tell us how would you like to be part of these awards.
You can also nominate your favorite companies who you think have a commendable sustainability report or communication.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015 update

Newly launched Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards aspire to become the most inspiring recognition for sustainability reporting excellence in Asia. The 2015 edition of the Awards is open for entries now.
An independent panel of judges with distinguished backgrounds will judge the entries and decide the winners. The Awards are being offered in 14 categories including Asia’s Best Sustainability Report, Asia’s Best Integrated Report, Asia’s Best Sustainability Report (SME), Asia’s Best First Time Sustainability Report and other specialized categories with focus on carbon disclosure, stakeholders, supply chain, community and many more.
The Awards, an multi-stakeholder initiative by CSRWorks, Singapore’s leading sustainability advisory firm,  have already garnered considerable attention as well as support from diverse organisations; being the foremost and the only Asia-level awards for sustainability reporting.
CSRWorks explains their decision to create these regional Awards: “An increasing number of companies in Asia are embarking on sustainability reporting in line with global trends. Our aim is to encourage and promote sustainability disclosure by honouring those who have demonstrated leadership in sustainability reporting.”
According to CSRWorks, “the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards will create a much needed platform for sharing best practices, bench marking and peer learning by bringing together the leaders in sustainability reporting. Moreover, the Awards will provide an excellent opportunity to organisations to showcase their sustainability excellence and build trust among their stakeholders. ”
Entries are welcome from all types of organisations from all sectors; all types of sustainability communication and disclosure will be accepted.
Early bird submissions end on 26th October 2015 and final submission deadline on 23rd November 2015. The winners will be announced in mid-January 2016 in an awards function in Singapore.
Further details on partnership opportunities, judging panel and how to enter are available here.

For more information, please contact:
Ms Zi Jin Wong

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The politics of the market

China’s unprecedented stock market crash in the recent weeks shows the dangers of investing in a market which is heavily manipulated by the government, lacks transparency and fundamentals are unknown.
The government media and machinery worked tirelessly to promote bullish behaviour by openly encouraging retail investors to buy more shares. And people did invest as if the bull run will never end. The government campaign resulted in 40 million new stock accounts between June 2014 and June 2015 and the Shanghai Composite Index went up by 150 per cent in the same period. When the market crashed, the government tried to manipulate the market again by pumping more than $200 billion in stock markets to stop the rout only to realise it can’t possibly stop the free fall. The government is now left red faced and embarrassed.
China’s leaders have viewed the rising stock market, erroneously, as a sign of the country’s economic might and a necessary manifestation of their growing global influence. A falling stock market therefore is perceived a sign of political weakness. This explains why the government panicked over the crash and started an extraordinary rescue operation. Short selling was capped. Pension funds were ordered to buy more stocks. New Initial Public Offerings were suspended to limit the supply of shares and the central bank created funds for brokers to buy shares. Companies major shareholders were barred from selling their shares for six month and companies were ordered to buy their own shares. Nothing worked.
There are some intriguing facts. Even though the stock market lost almost one third of its value over the weeks, it was still 80 per cent higher than the last year. Foreign investors do not account for significant share of stock trading. Less than 5 per cent local household assets are invested in stock market. State-owned companies dominate the two main stock exchanges- Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. State-owned companies offer only a tiny part of their shares for trading to maintain their control over the company. In other words, these companies don’t really rely on stock markets for raising capital. In summary, stock markets do not play a significant role in China’s economy. It’s actually the politics that believes that booming stock markets reflect the government’s success in reforms and a fall erodes the government leaders credibility.
Governments everywhere, particularly in developed countries, try to prop up stock markets by intervening when they have to. But in their case, the stock markets account for more than 100 per cent of their GDP and the stakes are high. The way the Chinese government has intervened is more than just business.
It’s this sensitivity which led to the arrest of journalist Wang Xiaolu who worked for Caijing magazine and wrote in an article that the government was going to end interventions in the stock market. He was promptly arrested saying he “caused panic and disorder at stock market, seriously undermined the market confidence and inflicted huge losses on the country and investors for the sake of sensationalism.” His video confessions were aired on the state-owned TV channel CCTV. He is seen apologising for his news story in the video.

Press Freedom
The authorities have warned other journalists and media outlets not to give too much coverage to stock market problems. Dozens of other people have been arrested in connection with the stock market crash facing accusations of insider trading, malicious short selling and spreading online rumours about stock markets.
The journalist’s arrest has turned the stock market crash story into a human rights and media freedom story. Media rights and human rights groups, within and outside China, have openly criticized the government move.
The key question is this: will the government slow down the market reforms after failing to control the stock market crash and go back to the tight control over the markets? What incentive it now has to reform the markets to let them function on economic fundamentals and transparency instead of driving through propaganda? The coming months will be crucial to watch.

This article, written by me, originally appeared in Ethical Corporation magazine, Sept 2015 issue.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Green and Sustainable Cities Initiative

CSRWorks International is pleased to be a partner of the newly launched Green and Sustainable Cities Initiative. Launched in Singapore on 4 September 2015, the initiative aims to get businesses, youth organisations and civil society committed to “a proactive, ground-up, ecosystem and entrepreneurial approach” to help make urban areas around the world more environmentally and economically sustainable.
CSRWorks and 14 other community and industry group leaders, representing more than 5000 local, regional and international organisations, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing to engage “in diverse activities to facilitate the growth of Green and Sustainable Cities”, with two main purposes by developing a shared-value economy and to develop youth leaders in close academia-industry collaboration. The long-term goal is to promote the notion that “doing good well is also good for business”.

(Photo: The MoU Signing Ceremony in Singapore on 4 Sept 2015 at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

14 Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards up for grab

The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015, hosted in Singapore, has 14 categories for which entries are being invited. Then there is the top honour of "Asia's Sustainability Report of the Year" which will be selected as Judges' Choice. A star-studded international judging panel will be unveiled soon!

  • Early Bird Entry submission deadline: 26 October 2015
  • Extended Entry submission deadline: 23 November 2015
  • Announcement of Finalists: Mid December 2015
  • Announcement of Winners and the Awards Ceremony/Gala Dinner: Mid Jan 2016
More information about the Awards is available on

If you have a CSR Report or CSR Communication in any form, do send your entry today!

Download the Entry Form at

Friday, September 04, 2015

Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015 Categories

The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015 are open for entries from organisation operating in Asia. The Awards will be given out in 14 categories. Multiple entries are allowed. The Awards include the following categories:
  1. Asia’s Best Sustainability Report
  2. Asia’s Best Integrated Report
  3. Asia’s Best First Time Sustainability Report
  4. Asia’s Best Sustainability Report (SME)
  5. Asia’s Best CSR Communication within Annual Report
  6. Asia’s Best Online CSR Communication
  7. Asia’s Best Materiality Reporting
  8. Asia’s Best Stakeholder Reporting
  9. Asia’s Best Carbon Disclosure
  10. Asia’s Best Supply Chain Reporting
  11. Asia’s Best Community Reporting
  12. Asia’s Best Workplace Reporting
  13. Asia’s Best Environmental Reporting
  14. Asia’s Most Transparent Report
 Descriptions of each category can be found on the Awards webpage at

Stay tuned to get regular updates about the Awards which aim to be the most inspiring recognition for sustainability disclosure in Asia!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015

Entries are being invited for the inaugural Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015.
The  Awards recognize and honour sustainability reporting leaders in Asia. The Awards celebrate best practices in sustainability reporting and communications.
The Awards are being offered in 14 categories including Asia’s Best Sustainability Report, Asia’s Best Integrated Report, Asia’s Best Sustainability Report (SME) and Asia’s Best Carbon Disclosure.

The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards are open to all kinds of periodic sustainability reporting by all types of organisations in Asia. The types of reports eligible for the awards include:
  • Annual Sustainability Report / Annual CSR Report
  • Integrated Report
  • CSR Communication within an Annual Report
  • UNGC Communication on Progress
  • Online CSR or Sustainability Communication (i.e. Company website or micro-site)
  • Any other type of CSR or sustainability communication disclosed and available publicly
Entries will be accepted for the most recent report published by an organisation for the calendar year 2014 or the Financial Year 2014-15, as the case may be.

An independent panel of judges with distinguished backgrounds will assess the entries to decide the winners. The judging panel will have members drawn from diverse fields such as non-profit organisations, academia, sustainability advocacy, professional bodies, industry networks, media etc to enrich the judging process. 
The judging panel is completely independent of the organisers to maintain the highest possible neutrality and objectivity. The judging panel is being put together and will be announced shortly.
The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards are committed to follow the highest standards in awards judging. The guiding principles for judging the Awards include: independent from organisers, integrity, objectivity, impartiality, avoidance of conflict of interest, and transparency.
More information is available on the Awards webpage.

The Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards are organised by CSRWorks Events, a unit of CSRWorks International, Singapore’s leading sustainability advisory, research and training firm. Established in 2005, CSRWorks closely works with businesses and other stakeholders to promote excellence in sustainability across the region. Our vision for the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards is to become the most inspiring recognition of sustainability disclosure in Asia.

Please help create awareness about these awards by sharing this post.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Upcoming Sustainability Training Programmes

How to Write a Professional Sustainability Report

15-16 September 2015, Tuesday & Wednesday

Keeping in line with the regional and global trends, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) CEO announced in October 2014 that sustainability reporting would be mandatory for Singapore-listed companies in the near future. SGX had previously issued voluntary sustainability reporting guidelines in 2010-11. Several other exchanges in the region and around the world have either made sustainability reporting mandatory or are moving in that direction.
Leading global investors are increasingly taking into account a company’s social and environmental performance to make investment decisions. Sustainability disclosure increases a company’s credentials and opens up new sources of investment. Sustainability reporting also helps a company reduce business risks, improve efficiency and lower operational costs. Early adopters will also have an edge over their peers, will gain stakeholders’ respect and reap a number of benefits of embracing sustainability reporting.
Many organisations already practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in some form. However there are several gaps between their existing CSR approach and the globally accepted sustainability reporting guidelines such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 and IIRC’s Integrated Reporting guidelines.

This course is designed to help listed-companies in moving from traditional CSR to a strategic Sustainability Reporting in an easy Do-It-Yourself manner.

This training will be very useful to those in the following functions:
Senior executives responsible for CSR and Sustainability Reporting in their respective organisations.  Directors and managers from corporate affairs, corporate communications, investor relations, public relations, human resources, environmental health & safety and senior management.
Measuring and Reporting Organisational Carbon Footprint
22 September 2015, Tuesday

This program is designed to offer a foundation course in carbon emissions footprinting (measurement). Participants at this course will learn the essentials of GHG management and carbon performance.  This course will provide the attendees with an excellent knowledge and understanding of the GHG Protocol to facilitate quantification and management of your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They will learn how to measure their organization’s carbon footprint using the GHG Protocol.

This course will be very useful to those in the following functions:
GRI Reporting team members, CSR/Sustainability, EHS, energy management and facilities management.
For more details about these trainings, please contact Frederique Perpetu at or +65 6471 2833.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Creative CSR Awards 2015 Winners

A big congratulations to the winners of the Singapore Creative Awards 2015! The winners in various categories include Maybank Singapore (Community Building), GSK (Environment),  DBS Bank (Social Enterprises) and Club 21 (Cause). Glaxo Wellcome Manufacturing also was the Grand Prix Winner.
The Creative CSR Awards, debuted in 2014, are organised by the Association of Accredited Advertising  Agents Singapore (4As). The award recognises and honours business organisations in the Singapore private and public sectors for creative, sustainable and effective CSR programs and projects. In order to qualify, they should be able to demonstrate the organisation’s ethical values, creative approach to differentiate their CSR initiatives, commitment to sustaining the program, impact on the community, environment and social purpose, measuring and evaluating results.
Entries for the Creative CSR Awards 2016 are now open. CSRWorks International is proud to be an advisor for the awards. Hope to see you at the awards night next year!
To find out more about the Singapore Creative CSR Awards 2016, please email Amanda Khoo at
(Contributed by: Frederique Perpetu, Head of Marketing & Outreach, CSRWorks International)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Greenpeace at war in India

Environmental campaigner Greenpeace has run into serious trouble in India. The government has barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funding and has frozen all its bank accounts including the domestic bank accounts. As a result, Greenpeace India has no more access to new funding – local or foreign-  or the monies in its various bank accounts.

The government’s tough stand against Greenpeace is based on a report submitted by the Intelligence Bureau to the prime minister’s office last June when the new federal government was taking charge. The report leaked to media terms Greenpeace as a “threat to India’s economic and national security.” The report says that a number of large development projects have been cancelled, disrupted or delayed because of Greenpeace campaign against coal mining, coal fired power plants, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), hydro power projects, tea farming practices and several large industrial projects. The intelligence report has mentioned London-based Vedanta’s bauxite project and South Korean company POSCO’s steel plant in Odisha state and hydro power projects in Arunachal Pradesh state bordering China as examples of affected projects.

The intelligence agency estimates that disruptions to large projects have cut India’s gross domestic product growth by 2-3 per cent a year.

The intelligence agency has noted that Greenpeace and other NGOs are using funds from donors in USA, UK, Germany and the Netherlands to mobilize protests against development projects in India. The agency also alleged that Greenpeace has flouted laws relating to receiving and accounting foreign funding. The agency has raised questions about the intentions of a number of expat Greenpeace officials, consultants and journalists who were brought to India for various campaigns and projects. The agency has also raised the issue of steep salaries being paid to Greenpeace officials and consultants.

Growth pledge
The Indian government, led by prime minister Narendra Modi, came to power by promising rapid development and fight against corruption. Since taking office, PM Modi has made development his key priority. He has launched an unprecedented reform agenda to create a welcoming environment for foreign investors. He has toured almost all industrialised nations inviting their governments and businesses to “make in India.” His energised pitch and the reform agenda have earned friendly postures from the world leaders and global CEOs with US president Barak Obama even calling him India’s Reformer-in-Chief.  He wants to modernise India’s creaking infrastructure and needs nearly one trillion dollars in the next five years, mostly from the foreign investors. The last thing he wants is activists coming in the way. Aggressive campaigns by activists can potentially turn off foreign investors.

Even though PM Modi has repeatedly said he is for sustainable development and will not allow development at the cost of environmental destruction, Greenpeace has a different vision for India’s development. PM Modi looks at coal fired power plants, hydro power and nuclear power as crucial to quickly solve India’s acute shortage of power. Greenpeace advocates India should embrace renewable energy instead and has actively tried to physically halt power projects.

The government thinks that the GMO is important for India’s food security; Greenpeace is against it citing ecological dangers. For the government, large industrial and infrastructure projects across the country are badly needed for the economic development, creating employment and alleviating poverty. Greenpeace says these projects are risking bio-diversity, destroying forests and displacing communities.

The government, based on the Intelligence reports, seems to have concluded that Greenpeace is obstructing India’s development at the behest of foreign interests. The action has been swift.

Lock down
In March, Greenpeace campaigner Priya Pillai, who was headed to the UK to brief British MPs on the ongoing campaign against a coal mine in Madhya Pradesh state jointly owned by London-registered Essar Energy, was deplaned and put on a no-fly list on the orders of the home ministry. Later, a Delhi High Court judge ordered the government to lift the ban on her travel, a victory for Greenpeace. In another judgement in January, Delhi High Court had ruled that the home ministry had not followed due process or shown justification in blocking money from Greenpeace International to Greenpeace India. This however followed by freeze on domestic bank accounts and new investigations against the campaigner.

Greenpeace has taken a confrontational position. The campaigner has categorically denied all charges and has labelled the government action as “attempts to silence criticism and dissent”, “an attack on civil society” and “a cynical move to suppress democracy.” Greenpeace India Executive Director, Samit Aich has said that “a campaign is being waged against dissent, but we will not be cowed.”

The government looks determined to act tough against those who oppose its development plans. At the time of writing this piece, the news came in that the Indian government has asked the Ford Foundation; the New York based private foundation which funds several local NGOs in India, to get government clearance before spending money, to make sure its funds were used for "bona fide welfare activities within the country."

The battle lines are drawn. The war is over which development model is good for India and who decides what is good for India.

Contributed by Rajesh Chhabara, founder of CSRWorks International and a member of Ethical Corporation's editorial advisory board.
This article originally appeared in Ethical Corporation magazine, May 2015 issue.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

India's corporate espionage wake-up call

A fast developing espionage scandal in India has exposed a shocking nexus between corrupt government officials, middlemen and some of the most powerful local corporations. The organised racket of espionage shows how domestic companies owned by influential business families may have gained competitive advantage through illegal means.
The growing list of companies allegedly involved in the scandal now includes India’s top energy companies Reliance Industries, Essar Group, ADAG Reliance and Jubilant Energy, Cairn India - the oil exploration division of billionaire Anil Agarwal’s London-listed Vedanta Resources, infrastructure developer GMR Group and accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers and a bunch of local consulting firms.  At least twelve people have been arrested that include senior executives from the suspect companies. More arrests are expected, investigators have indicated.
Investigators have revealed chilling details of the modus operandi. Local consulting firms would pay bribes to government employees in various ministries to get commercially sensitive secret information about government decisions and proposals. The final recipients of the information were some of the largest domestic companies. The information could be used for lobbying, playing stock markets, gain competitive advantage and even defraud the government by manipulating bids for infrastructure projects.
Government employees involved had fake identity cards and duplicate keys to the offices of ministers and senior bureaucrats. They would re-enter the ministry premises after office hours, make copies of the documents and leave, all this while security cameras would be turned off. They will then pass on the documents to consultants, lobbyists and companies for money.
The investigations started in October last year after the new central government’s newly appointed national security advisor noticed frequent reporting of highly classified details of government meetings by media. He then asked the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s little known elite intelligence agency, to investigate. A highly secret investigation that involved taping phones of the suspects and monitoring their movements resulted in several arrests in February this year.
Investigators say they have more than 100 hours of taped phone conversations that indicate senior executives of some of the top energy companies in India were actively involved in the espionage. The CEO of Metis Business Solutions, a top energy consultancy in India with an office in Melbourne, is among those arrested. The company’s website, no more accessible, claimed more than 250 clients worldwide in the oil, gas, power and coal industries.
Examples of documents stolen include sensitive information about the national gas grid, national budget input, market sensitive data, confidential plans and minutes of high-level government meetings, government plans for foreign collaborations, planned projects with other countries, foreign investment proposals by multinational companies and disinvestment decisions relating to public sector companies.
Started with the petroleum ministry, the investigations have so far discovered stealing of commercially sensitive classified information from the ministries of finance, commerce, coal, power, defence.

Action promised
The federal government, headed by prime minister Narendra Modi who came to power last year with unprecedented majority by promising that he will fight corruption,  has promised a strict action saying that no guilty will be spared. Reacting to the arrests, Reliance Industries and the Essar Group have said that they have launched internal probes and have promised action.
Prosecutors are, however, going to face likely difficulty in effectively charging the culprits as India does not have a proper corporate espionage law. The Official Secrets Act, India’s anti-spying law dating back to 1923, can be applied only if “obtained or attempted to obtain information which is calculated to be or might be, or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy.” Prosecutors are therefore charging those arrested under other laws covering “house trespass or house-breaking by night” and “forgery”.
“India Inc is not surprised with the corporate espionage scandal now rocking the petroleum ministry, with many chief executive officers (CEOs) saying documents are regularly leaked from the ministries, tax authorities, banks, and regulators – thus giving competitive advantage to corporates with deep pockets,” Business Standard, a leading local newspaper published from Mumbai, said in a report based on interviews with unnamed CEOs in February.
The government estimates that $1 trillion of investment would be needed to develop India’s infrastructure in the next five years, much of this will have to come from private investors, mostly from foreign investors. There are more than 600 mega infrastructure projects presenting huge business opportunity for local and multinational companies. Ports, oil & gas, telecom, power, railways and airports together account for 69% of the required investment, according to the Planning Commission, India’s central planning body.
The current scandal may unsettle foreign investors already frustrated with India’s antiquated laws, rampant corruption and spectacularly slow and inefficient bureaucracy. India ranks at number 85 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2014, and is at number 142 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2015 list.
Multinational companies eying investment opportunities often find themselves at a disadvantage compared with domestic companies when it comes to bribery. Multinational companies, particularly the ones from the UK and USA, are often bound by tough anti-bribery and corporate espionage laws at home. In India, they have to compete with large domestic companies helmed by influential families who may find bribery and espionage a fair game. The scandal has only reaffirmed their suspicion that India does not offer a fair level playing field.
It’s time to act tough by the government to win foreign investors’ confidence. For Indian companies, it’s time for introspection. Illegal means to gain competitive advantage may dent their reputation, increase regulatory risks and make them a target for international stakeholder action.

Contributed by Rajesh Chhabara, founder of CSRWorks International (

(This article first appeared in Ethical Corporation, April 2015 issue)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Measuring and Reporting Organizational Carbon Footprint

Training Course
Measuring and Reporting Organizational Carbon Footprint
28 April 2015

This program is designed to offer a foundation course in carbon emissions footprinting (measurement). Participants at this course will learn the essentials of GHG management and carbon performance.   This course will provide the attendees with an excellent knowledge and understanding of the GHG Protocol to facilitate quantification and management of your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They will learn how to measure their organization’s carbon footprint using the GHG Protocol. 

Topics covered

  • An understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on climate change.
  • Introduction to the GHG protocol for corporate accounting and the GHG protocol for project accounting.
  • GHG Reporting Indicators contained in the GRI G4 Reporting Framework and how they relate to the GHG Protocol standards.
  • Introduction to GHG inventories (Scope-1, Scope-2 and Scope-3).
  • GHG protocol for measuring and reporting corporate carbon emissions.
  • Establishing a GHG information management system.
  • Creating a user-friendly tool to monthly measure and monitor GHG emissions from the facility/office operations.
Who Should Attend?
This course will be very useful to those in the following functions: GRI Reporting team members, CSR/Sustainability, EHS, energy management and facilities management.

This workshop is facilitated by Rajesh Chhabara, founder and managing consultant of CSRWorks International, one of the earliest sustainability consulting firms in Singapore. Rajesh has helped more than 50 organisations across the region to measure and manage their carbon footprint.

Training Style
Training is delivered in a highly interactive and fun style through case studies, activities and real examples.

Date & Time
28 April 2015, Tuesday
9 am – 5 pm (Registration starts at 8.45 am)

$300 per person for Singapore Compact and SBF-SDBG members
$380 per person for non Singapore Compact and SBF-SDBG members
*Course fees are inclusive of course notes and tea breaks

Singapore Business Federation
10 Hoe Chiang Road
Keppel Towers, #22-01

Please contact Diana Chng at or (65) 6827 6825 for more details.

(This training is organised by Singapore Compact and Singapore Business Federation (SBF), and facilitated by CSRWorks International)


Thursday, April 02, 2015

Responsible Business in ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a grouping of 10 nations, aims to become a single market in 2015 what will be known as ASEAN Economic Community. The economic integration will see free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour among the member states to achieve a single market and  production base. With 600 million consumers and $3 trillion in combined GDP, the new economic block will need a strong framework for responsible business to ensure the initiative results in a sustainable growth for weaker member nations and the communities living there.
ASEAN has several challenges to deal with. To start with, ASEAN is a grouping of very uneven economies. Singapore and Brunei, the two smallest member states in ASEAN are also the wealthiest. ASEAN also includes Cambodia, Lao and Myanmar which are the least developed countries in the world. In between fall the remaining countries that include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
It’s obvious that the capital will flow from the wealthy members to the poor nations in search for growth and expansion as their home markets are very small. While this is a welcome news for the host economies, the key concern is whether the investors will ensure high standards of ethics, human rights and environmental protection.
Singaporean companies perhaps will benefit the most from ASEAN becoming a single market. However, only 20 out of nearly 800 publicly listed companies published a sustainability report in 2014. Singaporean companies have failed in disclosing their economic, social and environmental impacts even though the Singapore Exchange, the local stock exchange, had issued voluntary sustainability reporting guidelines in 2010. Malaysia, where sustainability reporting has been mandatory for the listed companies since 2008, saw only about 20 companies’ report meeting the GRI guidelines.
Singapore has consistently ranked high on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index while Brunei also enjoys a reputation for low tolerance for corruption. In contrast, almost all other countries in ASEAN are notorious for rampant corruption. The question is whether Singapore companies will follow the same anti-bribery standards in other countries that they follow in Singapore. Early this year, two large Singapore companies, Keppel FELS and Sembcorp Marine, were accused of bribery in a major corruption scandal in Brazil involving the state-run oil company Petrobras. Though both companies have denied any wrongdoing, the incident should be a wake-up call for Singapore companies venturing overseas.
Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand have significant number of migrant workers. There are ongoing concerns about abusive working conditions for migrant workers and human trafficking in some of these countries. Economic integration will speed up migration. Investments without respect for a firm commitment to protecting human rights will be red flags for activists.
Indonesia, already at the centre of rainforest destruction by palm oil and paper pulp companies, is an environmental hot-spot. More investment flowing into the country by companies without environmental integrity will result in continued deforestation, and displacement of local communities. Several of the palm oil and pulp companies accused of forest destruction in Indonesia are based in Singapore and Malaysia.
The good thing is that ASEAN leaders seem to be aware of the risks of ignoring corporate responsibility. The ASEAN Intergovermental Commission  on Human Rights (AICHR) was established in 2010 and ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was issued in 2013. A study by AICHR has recommended ASEAN Member States to adopt rules and regulations to deal with adverse impacts of business practices and encourage businesses to implement and internalize corporate social responsibility values, including respect for human rights.
Human Development, Social Welfare and Protection, Social Justice and Rights, Ensuring
Environmental Sustainability and Narrowing the Development Gap between member countries have been included as goals in the ASEAN Socio Cultural Community Blueprint.
The most important initiative however is the establishment of ASEAN CSR Network in 2011, modelled on CSR Europe, to promote corporate social responsibility within the region. The Network recently organized ASEAN Next Gen CSR Forum in Bali  attended by about 250 delegates including business leaders. Addressing the forum, the ASEAN Secretary-General, Le Luong Minh said there were many opportunities for businesses to contribute positively through sincere corporate values and principles.
There is work ahead for the ASEAN CSR Network. Brunei, Cambodia and Lao have not yet joined the ASEAN CSR Network and they don’t have any signatories to the United Nations Global Compact Principles.
Without an aggressive responsible business agenda, ASEAN Economic Community will find it hard to deliver on goals included in ASEAN Socio Cultural Community Blueprint.

-by Rajesh Chhabara,
Founder of CSRWorks International (

 (This article first appeared in Ethical Corporation, March 2015 issue)