Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For Asia, the future is green!

This week’s blog comes from Bangkok where CSR Asia is organizing it’s 2008 CSR Summit. It is a long time since Crane and Matten were in Bangkok at the Greening of Industry Network Conference in 2001 – which incidentally was their first joint conference appearance. What back then seemed a rather western idea and topic, parachuted into lovely Thailand to give some academics the excuse to travel to an exotic country on expenses, is now a living practice among Asian businesses.

More than 300 delegates, mostly from companies and NGOs, all over Asia gathered this week in Bangkok. For us it is a brilliant opportunity to check the pulse on business ethics and CSR in one of the most dynamic marketplaces globally. What is fascinating is to see how responsible practices begin to change in this part of the world. CSR in Asia started out very much as a supply chain driven idea, making sure that products manufactured in this part of the world were put together under acceptable conditions – from an ethics perspective.

Now though the tides turn slowly. The biggest issue seems to be the rapid decrease in water and air quality, decline in biodiversity etc. The Environment is highly on the agenda, making CSR a topic much more driven by local stakeholders in these countries. In many places in Thailand, China and Bangladesh, the impacts of global warming in terms of water supply from Himalayan glaciers, rising sea levels or d shifting weather patterns are really palpable. There was a fascinating session on business responses to climate change today – which not only highlighted the urgency of these issues but also showed a fascinating degree of creativity in corporate responses.

In the current, 2nd edition of Crane&Matten we started to include the Asian perspective, next to the North American and European one. We are just getting our act together for the 3rd edition – and one thing is sure: the Asian perspective will not only stay, but become more prominent. More Asian cases seem particularly challenging. If you have any material or suggestions, please join the conversation!

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