2017: Year in Review

2017 was a year of obstacles and challenges, but it was also a year of accomplishments and victories. The ASEAN CSR Network (ACN) utilised this year to continue promoting responsible business practices in the region--from influencing the general discourse through conferences and collaborations to writing research papers to mentoring young CSR professionals. Together, we worked harder than ever to expand the network, to strengthen our institutional partnerships, and to plan for a better year ahead.

As we prepare to start anew in 2018, let us look back at the biggest happenings in ACN this year. Here are the top highlights of ACN in 2017:

2017 banner


2017 1

Accreditation of ACN as ASEAN Entity

This year, the ACN formally became an ASEAN Entity. This accreditation is significant in our goal to gain more support, and to push for our agenda on a larger platform. Being accredited opens opportunities to stronger links within ASEAN, which could provide more resources to realise our vision of responsible business being mainstreamed in ASEAN.

 2017 2

 Inauguration of the ASEAN CSR Fellowship

As ACN welcomed year 2017, we also kicked off the ASEAN CSR Fellowship with 16 young leaders from 8 countries, ranging from sustainability managers at MNCs to land rights activists. In 1 year, they travelled to Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and Philippines, speaking to business leaders, doing field visits and completing their own Capstone Projects. Though the Fellows have graduated, they continue to be part of an alumni network - and ACN has already collaborated with Fellows in Laos and Cambodia to organise events to engage more local businesses on CSR.


Strong efforts to boost collective action for BHR and business integrity

To advance our agenda on business and human rights, workshops and training programmes were conducted by ACN during 2017. For example: In November, ACN partnered with AICHR for the 2017 Training on Business and Human Rights, held in Bangkok, Thailand, which focused on the Guiding Principles adopted by the United Nations in 2011, among other relevant topics.

Another BHR initiative is ACN's blended workshop, jointly organised with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI). The workship a on human rights training for corporates in Southeast Asia. In July 2017, around 50 participants from the judiciary, NHRIs and businesses spent a week in Bangkok; learning from roleplays, discussions and classroom lectures. Thereafter, a smaller 3-day session in Singapore was conducted in September 2017 for orporate representatives. The main theme of the course is human rights, gender equality and environment in the Agenda 2030 framework.

2017 4

Strengthened partnerships with key stakeholders

In order to create better collaborative environment towards achieving our goals, ACN worked hard to forge better partnerships with distinguished institutions and CSR practitioners and advocates. One of our milestones for the year is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Transparency International (TI-S) in October 2017. With this MOU, ACN and TI-S sigfnify their commitment to cooperate and work together in order to align their agendas and thematic areas of concerns.

Another initiative for partnerships is the Sustainability Consortium of Professionals and Educators (SCOPE), which organised a Meeting of Interested Parties on 20 November 2017. Co-organized with the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, SCOPE brought together 30 key stakeholders and representatives from ASEAN in the academe, civil society, and the private sector to discuss challenges in CSR and to develop collaborative solutions for responsible business, business integrity, and sustainability.

2017 5

Promotion of responsible business practices

Promoting responsible business practices among ASEAN companies continued to be the focal point of ACN's work. Most recently, ACN co-organised a workshop on responsible business with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and sponsored of the Government of Sweden. With over a hundred business representatives in attendance, the workshop provided a platform for CSR leaders in Laos to talk about their responsible business practices, in hopes of encouraging other companies to follow suit.

2017 6

Contributions to critical discourse through research publications

In September, ACN proudly presented a comprehensive report on financial inclusion for MSMEs, titled "Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in the ASEAN Economic Community." The report was about how ASEAN could build up the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, with greater financial and technical support to ensure their growth and prosperity. Covering 10 ASEAN Member States, the report is a result of a 12-month study which began in September 2016. The study was jointly conducted by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), Oxfam, ASEAN CSR Network (ACN) and AVPN, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Government of Sweden.

2017 7 

Notable projects under the Small Grants Fund

Batch 4 of our Small Grants Fund also proudly carry roster of good projects that have already began to deliver promising results this year. One completed project is by the Office for Business Sustainable Development (SDforB) of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), called "Enhancing Integrity Initiative in Business (Project 12)". With the objective of enabling domestic and foreign companies operating in Vietnam to work as partners to ensure business integrity, they were able to reach out to 200 companies, which attended their training courses on Code of Conduct development. Feedback shows that a majority of their participants expressed interest in learning about the adoption of the Code of Conduct into their companies.

2017 8

Strategic planning to prepare for new vision

2017 was also a year of setting the stage for new vision and targets. Through our strategic sessions held in May and October of this year, plans were developed to improve the direction of ACN, which are essential in the formation and thematic alignment of ACN’s programmes in the following years. We have also strengthened our processes by crafting a new Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, as well as laying down the initial stages of developing a new and improved ACN brand, which we plan to launch next year.

2017 9

ACN Secretariat staff expansion

Due to the generosity of our sponsors, ACN was able to expand our Secretariat and fill in key positions that are vital to the plans of ACN. This refers to the recruitment of four (4) new additional persons, which brings the Secretariat to a total of 9 members by the end of 2017. With more highly-qualified staff in our rank, ACN will be able to ensure better work and more effective strategies that would carry out our plans to fruition.