ASEAN CSR Network: May 2018 Newsletter

Promoting and enabling
responsible business conduct in ASEAN

​ACN launches Annual Report 2017

ACN proudly presents the Annual Report 2017. The report provides a glimpse of ACN’s work in the past year. It features our key activities and achievements, as well as organisational updates throughout 2017. With this Annual Report, we hope to highlight the network’s achievements, and to express gratitude to the people, partners, and donors that have supported us and provided us invaluable contributions. 

Access the full report here.


Responsible Business 101 Webinar Series
wraps up with business integrity & gender equity


This month, ACN completed its first ever webinar series. Entitled, Responsible Business 101 (RB101), the series as composed of two (2) parts, with 5 webinars in total that were spread out in period of April to May 2018. RB101 featured an introductory session on the concept of responsible business, and delved deeper into other key relevant topics.  The last two (2) webinars were held in May, which focused on the topics of business integrity and anti-corruption, and gender equity in business.


Read more here.


ACN tackles carbon pricing in new webinar


Carbon pricing can only be effective if it is economically meaningful--That is the main message of ACN's webinar on carbon pricing and its role in tackling climate change. The session was conducted on 24 May 2018 by Ms Melissa Low, Research Fellow at the Energy Studies Institutes.

The webinar sought to answer the questions: How will the carbon tax be implemented come 2019? What does the implementation of a new Carbon Tax mean to doing business in Singapore? How can businesses look at carbon tax and the possibility of using international carbon credits as a business opportunity in a globalized world? 


Read more here.

ACN was in Bangkok to discuss the Theory of Change as a partner for a 5-year project on the synergy between human rights and the environment (2017-2021), led by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights (RWI). The Network was represented by Programme Manager Ms Melissa Chong. ACN's role is to engage the private sector and support with ASEAN engagement. One of the key activities is the continuation of the Blended Learning Course, a unique programme bringing together businesses, judges and National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIs) for 1.5 weeks to learn about human rights and the environment. ACN will also be embarking on research projects with RWI on the link between human rights, corruption and the environment, as well as another study on toxic waste. The other project partners include the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF).

Learn more about RWI here.


On 16-17 May 2018, ACN took part at the 
Consultation on a Rules-Based ASEAN: Process of Forging Legal Instruments, held in Singapore. The event was organised by the ASEAN Secretariat with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), and supported by the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development (PROGRESS), and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). ACN's CEO Mr Thomas Thomas served as a Moderator for the session entitled "Towards People-Centred, People-Oriented Community: Stakeholdership in Implementing Agreements" on the second day of the event.

Read more about the consultation here.


ACN was also present at:

  • the Thirteenth Coordinating Conference on the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 24-25 May 2018, which was attended by ACN's CEO Mr. Thomas Thomas;
  • the ASEAN High Level Dialogue on Ocean and Blue Economy 2018, held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 7-9 May 2018, which was attended by Senior Programme Manager Ms Karen Sim;
  • a workshop on Gender Lens and Women's Economic Empowerment by Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA) on 15-18 May 2018, which was attended by Programme Director Ms Lynda Lim; and
  • the GRI Standards Certification training course by CSR Works International on 9-10 May 2018, which was attended by Programme Manager Ms Marya Malek.

ASEAN CSR Network, together with partners Oxfam, AVPN and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), is proud to present the findings of a new report on the landscape of MSMEs in the 10 ASEAN member states. MSMEs form an essential part of the economy, making up 89-99% of all enterprises in ASEAN and 52-97% of total employment.

One of the key findings is that MSMEs are still facing formidable barriers in access to finance. There exists a sizeable ‘missing middle’ where MSMEs in early- to growth-stage remain underserved by financiers. Research by the ASEAN CSR Network, Oxfam and AVPN shows that this gap ranges from USD5,000 to USD200,000. The problem is even more pronounced for women entrepreneurs, who do not generally receive the same level of resources as men to tackle financial challenges.

A free and public
webinar on this topic will be conducted on 21 June 2018, 3-4PM (Singapore time). It will highlight the key findings:
  • What are the key sources of finance for MSMEs?
  • What is the role of mainstream and alternative financing mechanisms?
  • What forms of technical support are currently available?
  • Is the macro environment conducive for their sustainability and growth?
In addition, a closed-door roundtable discussion on the topic will be held on 27 June 2018. This event is by-invitation only.
Read the full report here.
View the "Financing and Technical Support Options for MSMEs in ASEAN" directory 
Check out the infographics

In an effort to empower young entrepreneurs in the region, the ASEAN Foundation, through its flagship ASEAN Farmers’ Organisation Support Programme (AFOSP), conducted a workshop entitled "Validating Your Business Idea" at the ASEAN Youth Expo 2018 on 3 May 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Learn more about the workshop 


Sustainable business practices are spearheading Vietnam’s development, according to Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a conference held in Hanoi on 8 May 2018. Using the Corporate Sustainability Index as a metric to assess sustainability among businesses in Vietnam, the conference aimed to recognize Vietnamese businesses that have contributed to sustainable development, and to encourage other businesses to do the same.
Read more about the event here.



Speaking at the opening of the 5th Singapore Sustainability Symposium on 2 May 2018, Singapore's Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the country can promote green financing in the region given its stable finance regulatory environment, and help create a business culture of sustainable practices through its own experiences in the field. He also asserted that there must be a collective ASEAN effort towards smart and sustainable development. "Sustainability innovations, technologies and practices that we develop here must have the relevance and scalability to be applied in different parts of the world," said Mr Heng.

Read more from Straits times here.​​

A watchlist containing the names of 53 directors and executive officers was released by the Singapore Exchange's regulation unit. Those on the list were previously reprimanded or were uncooperative, according to SGX, adding that those "who do not possess the character and integrity expected of their office pose potential risks (reputational, compliance or otherwise) to companies." For this reason, the people on the list cannot be appointed by companies on boards or as senior management without the SGX's approval. The identified names are from companies such as China Sky Chemical Fibre, Midas Holdings and Trek 2000 International. 

Check out SGX's Directors' and Executive Officers' Watchlist here.

After the historic win of Alliance of Hope (PH) during the Malaysian elections on 9 May 2018, businesses in Malaysia are hopeful for a corruption-free future under the new government. One of its campaign pledges is the promise of a crackdown on corruption, along with a vow to remove Malaysia on Transparency International’s Corruptions Perception Index, which has ranked the country on the top 54, 55, and 62 from years 2014-2016 respectively. Reports show that the party's victory has increased private sector outlook and consumer confidence.

Read more at Salaam Gateway here.

A report published by Greenpeace in April 2018 revealed opposition by local residents to a coal-fired power plant in Celukan Bawang in Indonesia due to health, environmental and land compensation issues. The report concluded that the plant was "destroying local livelihoods and threatening the health of nearby communities," and that the interviews "revealed problems over land and compensation, the impact on the local economy, environmental degradation and health impacts caused by the power plant."

Read more from Eco-Business here.


According to the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2017 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), countries in the Asia Pacific region have made satisfactory advancements towards achieving some Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, but the progress remains uneven. Launched at the 74th Commission session (CS74) on 11 May 2018 in Bangkok, the report assesses the progress of SDG implementation in the region two years after its adoption. The Report shows improvement towards eradicating poverty (Goal 1), promoting health and well-being (Goal 3), and achieving quality education for all (Goal 4). Yet on the other hand, 37 out of 57 analysed targets show insufficient progress in the region, and negative trends are noted on 7 targets showed negative trends. These include targets related to decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), industry (Goal 9), climate action (Goal 13) and sustainable use of oceans and forests (Goals 14 and 15).

Read more from UNESCAP here.

Human Rights Watch reported that sexist job advertisements are prevalent in China. The ads target "men only", and feature jobs in both the private and the public sector, with a reported 55% of jobs from China's Ministry of Public Security advertised as exclusively for males in 2017. The watchdog also stated that the practice is common among Chinese businesses, including Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, which reportedly used derogatory remarks against women in their recruitment ads on social media. Despite the country's ban on gender discrimination in the workplace, enforcement in China remains weak, which is evident in the dwindling number of Chinese females in the workforce over the last decade.

Read more from CNBC here.


The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) revealed the online sale of endangered and threatened wildlife is rife across Europe, ranging from live cheetahs, orangutans and bears to ivory, polar bear skins and many live reptiles and birds. The investigation, which covered the UK, Germany, France and Russia, found over 5,000 ads selling almost 12,000 items, worth $4m (£3m) in total, all species that are restricted or banned for trade by the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. These include ivory, live orangutans and a huge number of reptiles and birds.

Read more from The Guardian here.

From Eco-Business:
Accounting for sustainability, the Asian way
​By Feng Zengkun

From Mongabay:

Debate ensues over British supermarket chain’s decision to ban palm oil
By Loren Bell

From Sustainable Brands:

#BusinessCase: Employee-Led Sustainability Projects Have Saved Conagra $237M
By Sustainable Brands

From Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines

From IPS Commons:
Building resilient communities in the age of disinformation
By IPS Commons
Participating Organisations
Indonesia - Indonesia Business Links
Myanmar - Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry

If your country does not have a Participating Organisation formalised as a convenor yet, you may contact the Secretariat of the ASEAN CSR Network directly.

ASEAN CSR Network is a company limited by guarantee in Singapore, with charity status as an International Charitable Organisation (ICO) and is an ASEAN accredited Entity.

​Our mailing address is:
10 Hoe Chiang Road, #08-03 Keppel Towers
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