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World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018
This edition examines the current state of the labour market, assessing the most recent developments and making global and regional projections of unemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty.
Women's invisible power
Picture: Social scientist Dorcas Kamuya (right) discusses her research with a group of women in Kilifi, Kenya. Credit: Kemri–Wellcome Trust Research Programme
Women hold the key to improving people's health in sub-Saharan Africa. They bear the brunt of such scourges as HIV and diabetes. And they are the primary care-givers, so their health can affect their whole community.
But tailoring health solutions to African women is not easy, partly because their access to care is often compromised by patriarchal family structures and norms, particularly in the poorest communities, which hold tightest to traditional gender roles.
Carrying out research on the mechanisms and treatments of disease in sub-Saharan Africa is difficult for similar reasons. Poverty and disease go hand in hand, so the work is often conducted in the most traditional and patriarchal communities. These social structures complicate such processes as gaining consent and giving participants feedback on the findings. But researchers have begun to learn an important lesson: by making an effort to better understand African gender roles and traditions, they — and those who plan health programmes — can help to ensure the success of their projects.
Consider an HIV-negative woman who walks into a rural clinic in Zimbabwe. Her doctor might ask her if she wants to enrol in a clinical trial of a new HIV prevention tool. The woman says that she must consult her husband. A few days later, the woman returns with her husband, who says that she can take part in the study on condition that he accompanies her.
From an ethical point of view, this situation is problematic. If the man has so much power over the decision, can the researchers be sure that the woman is participating willingly? Scientists have proposed workarounds for such scenarios, for instance by providing the women with information that targets the male head of the household while also explicitly stating to participants that male endorsement is not a substitute for a woman's consent.
Historically, much of the discussion about such issues has been carried out by foreign researchers from vastly different backgrounds from the people being studied. But African researchers have increasingly been adding nuance to the discussions, clarifying the value of learning about how women in their study populations wield power in their communities.
One of these researchers is Dorcas Kamuya, a Kenyan social scientist who has worked for more than ten years to improve community engagement in health research. “It's easy to come to our societies in Africa and say they are patriarchal,” she says. But having grown up in one of these societies, Kamuya knows that women do have power. It is just a different kind of power from that of men, and is wielded differently. “Being an African woman making decisions for myself, and watching my mother make decisions, I always struggled with the idea that women don't make decisions,” she says.
Ruth Verhey/Friendship Bench Zimbabwe
Women can discuss problems with a 'grandmother' (right) in Zimbabwe's Friendship Bench Project.
Kamuya recently published a paper1 exploring the influence of gender roles on public-health research on the Kenyan coast, where extended families ruled by male heads of households remain the norm. She and her collaborators looked at family decision-making in two community-based studies: a small study examining the transmission patterns of respiratory syncytial virus, which causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults but can cause pneumonia in infants; and a malaria-vaccine study involving 900 children.
The researchers found that although health decision-making remained strongly patriarchal at face value, and women who openly went against the wishes of the male head of the household would be censured, the women often found other, more subtle, ways to influence decisions. For example, if a woman disagrees with her husband, she might ask her mother-in-law to change her husband's mind, because a mother-in-law holds more power in the household than a wife yet is also sensitive to a wife's priorities as a woman.
Nuances such as this need to inform the way researchers approach communities, Kamuya says. She does not think researchers should abandon the idea of individual consent, or that the universal principles of research ethics need to change. “What I advocate is the idea that the way they are implemented in practice needs to take account of the context,” she explains. This might entail, for example, designing studies to make it easier for participants to consult their families about taking part if they wish.
By understanding local customs, researchers can harness traditional gender roles to keep their study running smoothly. One example is Zimbabwe's Friendship Bench Project, which aims to treat depression, anxiety and other mental-health disorders. These under-diagnosed and highly stigmatized conditions are estimated to affect more than one in four Zimbabweans, but few people want to discuss them with a doctor. The friendship-bench initiative, which has been running for ten years, pairs people who have suspected mental-health issues with elderly female lay health workers, known as 'grandmothers'. The pair meet for one-on-one sessions that take place on a secluded bench in the grounds of a clinic.
According to Dixon Chibanda, co-founder of the initiative and a mental-health researcher attached to the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the project was designed to leverage the powerful role of elderly women in society. “They are seen as custodians of the local culture and they are rooted in the community,” he says. Grandmothers receive equal respect from men and women, breaking some of the social barriers that prevent men from talking to women doctors, he adds. Grandmothers can even mediate between parties in domestic disputes involving spousal abuse.
Chibanda says that his project differs from the well-intentioned but misguided Western-style mental-health programmes that were plonked into Africa in the past. Psychotherapy interventions introduced in Rwanda after the genocide in 1994, for instance, left locals feeling more depressed because of the emphasis on recalling sad events.
But Chibanda was more sensitive to local traditions and used input from the grandmothers in designing the friendship-bench concept, even down to deciding which words to use. The grandmothers were trained in problem-based therapy, a form of cognitive behavioural therapy, but they decided not to call it 'therapy' — a word that in their culture implies that the recipient is weak. Instead, the sessions are about “opening up the mind”.
The interventions work. A 2016 study2 found that Zimbabweans who received friendship-bench support were less likely to have depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts six months later than others who had not received it. The project is expanding to rural Zimbabwe, and Chibanda has been asked to help set up other schemes in Malawi and Zanzibar.
New technology can bring fresh ethical problems and gender-based issues. Internationally, it is standard practice for information derived from research to be fed back, as far as possible, to the individuals who participated. But in human genetic research, which is on the rise in Africa, many of the scientific concepts conflict with traditional notions of heredity and the causes of disease. Feedback to families participating in genetics research can create distress, jeopardizing continued cooperation.
Guida Landouré, a geneticist at the University of Bamako in Mali, negotiates this minefield while looking for genetic markers for neurological problems. In Mali it is common for men to take several wives, and for the first wife to be a relative, such as a cousin. This practice has created pockets of the population with increased prevalence of recessive genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia. A man whose first wife has children with disease while his other children are healthy might conclude that the mother of the affected child is to blame. When researchers try to introduce the idea of inherited disease, such men can react badly. “For them, it's a diminution of their standing to say they communicated the disease,” Landouré says.
To avoid such problems, Landouré designed his study so information about genetics is introduced carefully to participants. He sometimes delays giving feedback on genetic tests until the participants have a better understanding.
As well as educating patients in the clinic, Landouré and his colleagues also hold public information sessions on TV and radio. This work is having an effect, he says. Young people in particular are becoming more aware of genetic disorders in the family, and many are taking this into account when choosing who to marry or whether to have more children.
But even when people are educated about genetics, blame can still be shifted onto women. A Kenyan study3 conducted in-depth interviews with families of children afflicted with sickle-cell disease in poor, patrilineal communities. It found that fathers who had a good understanding of genetics — who understood that traits are inherited from both parents — were more likely to question the paternity of their sick children. Rather than shoulder the blame themselves, they preferred to believe that a different man must have passed on the disease. The authors of the study — who include Kamuya — found that it was often helpful to speak about genetic illness as something that was passed down through generations, rather than as traits carried by mothers and fathers, because this was a better fit with local ideas of inheritance and helped to reduce individual blame.
If research is to be fruitful, projects must take heed of traditional decision-making processes, which are often more democratic than they seem from the outside, says Jantina de Vries, a bioethicist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. “It's absolutely essential that there is African leadership in the design of these projects,” she says.
Kamuya believes that research in Africa is becoming more sensitive to local communities, and that this will lead to more effective protocols and real benefits. Her own work is feeding back into international discussions about research ethics, challenging the existing stereotypes that help neither the women in these societies nor the researchers studying them. “It shows the resilience of African women, the understated influence they wield to leverage their decisions,” she says, “and thus the invisible power they wield.”
- Author information
- Kamuya, D. M., Molyneux, C. S. & Theobald, S. BMJ Glob. Health 2, e000320 (2017).
- Chibanda, D. et al. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 316, 2618–2626 (2016).
- Marsh, V. M., Kamuya, D. M. & Molyneux, S. S. Ethnic. Health 16, 343–359 (2011).
Global development trends and challenges: horizon 2025 revisited
In July 2012, we published Horizon 2025: creative destruction in the aid industry, which analysed some of the major forces shaping change in development cooperation, as we knew it then. Five years on we look again at our 2012 scenarios. 2017 is a milesteone shrouded in great uncertainty arising from recent political developments such as Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency. This report analyses how our previous scenarios have stood the test of time, what we missed and what we have learned since.
Our starting point is the enormous change in the landscape within which development finance agencies are operating. On the one hand there are large, unexpected factors that potentially cause massive change, but whose legacy might yet prove ephemeral. These include the populist ‘roar’ and national-interest-first movement; the global agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with their attendant change from business-as-usual to a transformational agenda, albeit with less consensus on how to to achieve it; and the surge of migrants and refugees from conflict, and its lasting impact both on the content of development assistance and public support for it. On the other hand, there are trends with mostly larger impact which were already apparent and in most cases identified in our earlier work, but which have grown faster or changed direction compared to what we had anticipated. These include:
- increasing concentration of poverty in fragile states, with a corresponding slowdown in global poverty reduction;
- the surge of refugees from conflict, and of migrants generally, and its lasting impact on both development assistance and the public support for it;
- the changed role of the business community from an ad hoc player;
- the continued activity on climate change, but the arguable reduction in the use of aid; and
- finally, China’s ‘big push’ on development, which has injected a geopolitical dimension to aid.
Infographic | October 2017
Working Paper Backsliding and reversal: The J-Curve revisited
Ian Bremmer published a treatise on the stability of states built on the notion that states fall along a curve resembling a slanted “J” when plotting their stability against openness. States in the turnover process are considered unstable, and are at risk of either reversing to a closed and stable system or even collapsing.
Our paper shifts the J curve’s associated conditions to a model to more accurately specify the causes of reversal in which crises of instability and backsliding occur. We define stability as a function of two state dimensions: authority and capacity, and apply the remaining state dimension of legitimacy as a proxy for openness.
We find that transitions can reverse, oscillate, or simply stall, which are exemplified in the different types of states we categorize. The paper concludes with implications for policy and the application of the model to conflict prediction.
Husbands' return migration and wives' occupational choices
Exploiting the documented effect of migration on occupational choice upon return to their origin country with data from Egypt, we establish a link between return migration of men and their wives' time use through within-couple occupational interdependence. Seemingly Unrelated Regression model estimates suggest that being married to a migrant who opted for self-employment upon return decreases a woman's likelihood to engage in paid work, and increases her likelihood to engage in family work and subsistence farming, at both the extensive and intensive margins. This is pronounced for rural families, and when husbands work in agriculture. Results differ by education level, illiterate wives engaging significantly more in paid as well as unpaid work compared to more educated women. Findings are consistent with theoretical models of occupational interdependence between spouses and assortative mating; they highlight the need to buffer potentially depriving migration-induced effects on women's time use, even once migration is complete.
Keywords: International migration, Return migration, Gender, Time use, Entrepreneurship, North Africa, Egypt
Automation and Inequality: The Changing World of Work in the Global South
Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South
Book/Report, 36 pages
Governments and businesses in the developing world can help protect people's jobs and livelihoods from the damaging effects of automation and rapid technological change. This can be done by refocusing their economic and social policies to make them more sustainable and fair.
This paper examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled.
But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies' focus. By moving the dependence on manufacturing before these jobs are replaced and preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will bring, governments can help protect men and women's livelihoods.
From Boardrooms to Battlefields
Picture Credit: "The United Nations Global Compact Delegation to the 2010 Leaders Summit" by Juley Baker. CC BY-SA 4.0, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.
Long thought to be a rarefied calling for diplomats or dedicated activists, global peacebuilders are being pushed to accept a new player into their ranks: international business. Attempting to shed their post-Cold War reputations as conflict profiteers, transnational firms today from Shell and Starbucks to Chevron and Heineken are undertaking peacebuilding ventures within some of the most fragile, impoverished, and conflict-affected regions of the world. Governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) like the United Nations and the World Bank, and even some international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have all started to bring businesses aboard in public-private partnerships that try to stimulate peaceful development through poverty reduction, socio-economic growth, and inclusive negotiation.
Moreover, with IGOs like the United Nations increasingly unable to address the proliferating number of conflicts across the globe, businesses are even asked to contribute to peace amid the belief that their help is not only mutually adventageous but, in fact, necessary. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) has ramped up its engagements with their 8,000-strong network of businesses that have subscribed to their sustainability principles, launching a Business for Peace platform to mobilize corporate leadership and encourage direct private sector peace action. The United Nations has also included business stakeholders in their new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. And many in the private sector are thrilled, as once-wary INGOs tell them that what they already do anyway—helping to increase GDPs and expand markets—can now be presented as key and lasting ingredients to peace.
Peace rhetoric is also growing within firms themselves, in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and attempts to implement conflict-sensitive business practices. A host of stakeholders are driving the push: shareholders who want more responsible firms, the international community of governments, IGOs and INGOs who see businesses as essential peace participants, and local governments and communities who want firms to contribute more to societal improvements through everything from development projects to a joint response to the European refugee crisis. And some firms aren’t afraid to market their efforts. For example, while most consider traditional efforts like that of the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce in Cyprus’s multi-decade peace process to be a peacebuilding activity, the firms that jumped to engage with Myanmar’s military regime after its economic opening say that they should be called peace-builders too, and rewarded as such.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark. What is missing is systematized evidence to categorize the wide variety of claims about how companies do—or don’t— support peace. Business for Peace echoes the idea of a ‘liberal peace,’ which has become an ideology in its own right. The UNGC declares that “the private sector can make important contributions” to peace, as the World Bank similarly posits the “catalytic role” of business in conflict reduction. Yet IGOs call for more investment in places where corporate activity is already exacerbating conflict, and the UNGC’s own report that “initiatives to promote conflict-sensitive practices have not been widely embraced and have not yielded a cumulative positive benefit to conflict-affected communities” is broadly ignored. Exuberance appears to have overtaken any commitment to understanding why what is working is working, and why what is not is not.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark.
To make sense of it all, we surveyed a broad swath of recent ventures where firms have acted effectively as peacebuilders as well as places where they have simply made conflict and violence worse. Synthesizing many of today’s implicit assumptions, we present five contemporary business actions that arguably advance peace: (1) growing markets and economically integrating regions to facilitate a peace dividend; (2) encouraging local development to grow local peace capacities; (3) importing international norms to improve democratic accountability; (4) changing the drivers or root causes of conflict; and (5) undertaking direct diplomatic efforts with conflict actors. We show that while some see ingenious initiatives brimming with possibilities, others see this as ‘peacewashing’ at best and corporate exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable at worst. We take a measured stance, finding that firms can become effective peacebuilders, but must tread carefully through societal minefields—and their own divergent interests—to get there.
Action I: Businesses Grow Markets that Create a ‘Peace Dividend’
Businesses bring countries and communities together. Or so goes the belief that through trade, economic growth, and capital injections, businesses provide the fundamental building blocks of development and peace to fragile countries. It’s a core paradigm of international political economy, associated with a who’s-who of historical heavy hitters in economics and philosophy, including John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, Francis Fukuyama and the Washington Consensus of policy prescriptions supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. If it is believed that economic ties make would-be advesaries less inclined to fight, generating local economic development through foreign investment can lead to peace. It is therefore ‘bad business’ to engage in conflict, and a ‘peace dividend’ of increased prosperity for all will result. While policies to boost economies in an effort to create more stable societies can be traced back centuries, the belief that prosperity equals peace (and thus more prosperity is peace-building) is more recent.
Today, this stance holds that economic development promises to reduce all types of conflict, and reframes corporate expansion as the proverbial plowshares. Examples include firms aiding the transition from a war to peace economy by helping to normalize trade and provide essential revenue streams (such as in post-2011 Myanmar), moving early into post-conflict or nearly post-conflict environments to solidify fragile economies (as in investment by resource firms in Kurdistan and Afghanistan), creating economic interdependence across geographic boundaries (like the European Economic Community/European Union). If businesses improve material conditions, conflict incentives are reduced, which in turn leads to more satisfied and peaceful populaces.
Action II: Businesses Make Peace by Bolstering Local Development Capacities
Another peace truism is that responsive and inclusive institutions reduce conflict; therefore, businesses should build local development capacities in their operational areas, which will facilitate local peace. Key members of the peacebuilding community have been drawing international businesses into development for three reasons: first, they believe that better corporate governance is in itself a conflict-sensitive peacebuilding venture; second, that inclusive collaborative action to mitigate local socio-economic ills can lead to broader societal peace; and third, to make use of corporate coffers in resource-scarce settings. Such assertions align seamlessly with corporate CSR goals, allowing firms to demonstrate good corporate citizenship by making a positive governance contribution.
Beginning largely as public relations efforts, CSR departments have grown rapidly. Today, they’re also development tools as firms try to deflect conflict and generate ‘shared value’ by being socially valuable local actors, often promoted through ‘win-win’ profit and peace metrics. Examples include corporate investment in peacebuilding like Newmont Gold’s recognition of Ghana’s Peace Councils in its grievance resolution processes, and Barrick Gold’s support for municipal planning and service delivery in the Dominican Republic. IGOs like the World Bank highlight job creation to promote peace and social cohesion, especially through establishing inclusive and diverse workplaces. An NGO-corporate alliance managing the Virunga Park in Eastern Congo aims to create a corporate ‘peace zone’ around the park, arguing that private sector jobs for rebels and poachers will secure its precious flora and fauna. Employment is thus not only an economic benefit, but also promotes trust, reduces stereotypes, and offers an alternative to fighting. Business motivations for peace essentially take a back seat to operational effectiveness, or as Starbucks Coffee CEO Howard Schultz framed his firm’s impressive CSR portfolio: “This is not altruistic; this is business.”
Action III: Businesses Influence Peace by Importing International Democratic Norms
The philosophy of leading by example also drives business-peace calculations. The belief is that when international (typically Western) firms import sophisticated standards, norms, and ethics, the structural conditions for peace are improved, changing local institutional incentives. Firms reward good behavior through additional investment, or punish bad behavior by withdrawing—and removing the tax bases that their operations provide. Other initiatives include business compliance and risk mitigation strategies, believing that being good corporate citizens will reshape the conduct of those involved. This approach encourages buy-ins that firms find predictable and achievable, as they promise a competitive engagement with governments, as opposed to negotiating with rebel groups or other less predictable actors.
Corporations working in conflict zones are slowly accepting the notion that they are ‘of the conflict’ from their very presence, and that this presence has consequences. By adhering to global standards such as the Voluntary Principles, they often require higher standards of conduct from their local security providers, in contexts where these are usually considered part of the problem. Activities include training local security forces with the help of the international community, working with anti-corruption watchdogs to support initiatives in corrupt countries (such as Transparency International’s partnership on OECD anti-bribery efforts), strengthening the voice of local government and civil society (such as the Tintaya copper mine dialogue table in Peru by BHP Billiton), and partnering on global trends that are presumed to exacerbate local conflict, including the business Caring For Climate initiative launched alongside the COP21 Paris Climate Summit and involvement in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More ethical business practices are thought to percolate positively throughout broader society, making democratic and non-violent means of redress more realistic and possible.
Action IV: Businesses Build Peace by Tackling the Drivers and Root Causes of Conflict
Some firms try to act on issues that they see as causing or exacerbating conflict. These drivers can be economic, political, or structural in nature, and the thinking is that if material conditions on the ground can be improved, the root causes of conflict are addressed and the incentives for conflict are reduced. For firms, this often means attempting to stop financial flows to conflict actors. Examples include getting businesses to sign on to the Kimberley Process for diamonds, conflict-free minerals initiatives in Central Africa, efforts to prevent the sale of oil from ISIS-held areas, and preventing payment of royalties/taxes to oppressive regimes. Big INGOs like Global Witness and International Alert advocate that more open trade and finance regimes can stop wars—and that getting businesses to stop dealing with oppressive regimes and rebel movements can force peace. In support, many firms have instituted conflict sensitive business practice toolkits. Firms often see these initiatives helping to prevent abuses while also reducing incentives for themselves and competitors to operate unethically. These actions can also be positively presented to shareholders, activists, and others as proof that they are helping contribute to peace.
Businesses also attempt to address root causes of insecurity that are assumed to lead to violence. For example, in Sri Lanka, it was the business community that facilitated the peace process. Juan Valdez coffee farmers and other firms in Colombia have hired former rebels during post-conflict peace processes, and HDW, a private security firm operating in the Eastern Congo city of Goma, employs a large proportion of demobilized rebels. In the tense borderland between North and South Korea, a firm operating an export-processing zone puts employees from both parties of the conflict together. And business organizations have partnered with governments and international bodies to pressure regimes with discriminatory policies to achieve political change that is assumed to bring peace, as in boycotts designed to pressure the South African apartheid policy. Such actions undoubtedly have important financial and public relations benefits, but are underpinned in the belief that if each corporate citizen does its part to re-integrate peace into society, both business and society will reap lasting rewards.
Action V: Businesses Make Peace by Direct Diplomatic Efforts with Conflict Actors
Finally, businesses can directly participate in peace processes and conflict resolution negotiations. Here we find business actors acting as mediators, providing a vested stake in moving peace processes forward to “yes.” This can take several forms: by being at the table as peace process participants, as mediators, entering into business partnerships with former conflict elites to encourage their reintegration into society, or in using their local economic power to leverage recalcitrant or disinterested actors to come to the peace table. Business leaders who actively pursue peace are often celebrated, and their leadership is presumed to inspire others to action.
To improve the peace climate, a firm might facilitate a dialogue process between warring factions, as Chevron did in Papua New Guinea by hiring trained mediators, believing that there is a causal link between dialogue, grievances, and peace. Even though Chevron’s activities had little to do with the local dispute, the fighting made the business environment more fragile, so they were incentivized to contribute toward its cessation. In this sense, ‘peacebuilding’ is also risk and impact management for the firm. Other examples abound, including the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce’s role in the Cyprus peace processes and the efforts of South African and international firms during Apartheid to support the democratic transition. Often spearheaded by individual businesspeople, these sorts of activities are not without political and reputational risk.
Should Businesses Really Be in This Business?
These five actions seem altruistic and benign, but are also fiercely contested as part of the battle over who will get to define, make and implement ‘peace.’ Our research shows that detractors fall along three primary lines: those who say that these actions don’t have any real impact; those who say that these actions are done outside of core competencies and simply cause new problems; and those who say that the entire premise is merely a front for deeper penetration into the corporate greenfields of the world. We take each in turn.
First, does business engagement really produce peace? The answer, unfortunately, is: ‘it depends,’ and often, business itself is complicit in driving conflict. AngloGold Ashanti, Anvil Mining, and American Mineral Fields aided rebels to secure mining rights in Congo. Relationships between trade and peace are murky, with trade often thriving despite any advances towards peace. Many business ventures in conflict zones support double-digit GDP growth rates in elite enclaves, while conflict and poverty rage unabated in other parts of the country. Empirical links between corporate standards and peace generation are also tenuous, as institutional reforms that attract investment may have little to do with broader reform that could create a new social contract, and firms complain of the difficulty of implementing standards in the best of circumstances, let alone in conflict-affected areas.
CSR ventures are also problematic, often amounting to little more than PR ventures that have little effect on the ground. While some professional CSR operations are genuine in their intentions, their policies only carry limited influence upon core corporate deliberations. Some companies instead use the cover of CSR to increase their local security budgets, allowing the suppression of local resistance to contested operations. Further, new morality-based CSR approaches linking ethics, activities, norms, and responsibilities are often too complicated to implement across larger companies; CSR is not a strong in-house strategic platform for generating business value, and host governments are wary of foreign CSR ‘contributions’ meddling with local authority. Critics also ask if expanding corporate reach in fact keeps host states weak by reducing local capacity. Because of these and other issues, some in the business community itself are tiring of the CSR concept, looking to move to the next big idea that can generate positive social impact.
Second, business activity can and has worsened some generalized conflict drivers such as inequality. In resource-poor societies, mining new resources often adds another layer of competition between conflict actors, rebutting the assumption that more business makes more peace. Large new investments can calcify strongmen and their cronies to permanent power, reducing political space for civil society or marginalized groups and fan new cycles of violence, as oil wealth has done in Nigeria. The fluid nature of complex inter-group grievances makes these waters exceptionally tricky to navigate, even for those firms with the willingness to recognize and act on the local drivers of conflict. Business operations can also exacerbate other conflict drivers, such as exclusion and marginalization, as investment or joint venture partners typically represent dominant societal groups.
More broadly, there is an inherent difficulty in ‘solving’ root causes of political violence. Businesses may not be the best actors to identify and address those, as their motivations can differ or even contradict those of other peacebuilding agents. Reflecting that reducing conflict alone is not necessarily peacebuilding (it can simply be suppression), firms must also pick winners and losers, and these tend to be pro-government, anti-insurgent actors due to corporate desires for security and market access. And even leaving conflict zones in order to ‘do no harm’ can leave a void for corporations of lower ethical inclination to fill. To wit, Talisman Oil was shamed out of the former Sudan after it was shamed for complicity with the Sudanese government in targeting non-muslims in South Sudan; this gap was filled by Indian firm ONGC Videsh, who was even less inclined to consider its local impact or join western-led peace initiatives.
Third, the harshest critics see deeper involvement of businesses in fragile conflict zones as neo-colonial exploitation. They warn that privileging business in the peace and development space will warp international agendas towards corporate interests and further marginalize the broader population from control over their own political futures. Beyond the simplistic ‘conflict for profit’ frame that some firms exploited in the 1990s, today’s projects like B4P are accused of being a new generation of corporate window-dressing to operate in contentious areas. These pro-business pushes are said to rest on spurious assumptions. Namely, that national actors care about and are invested in adherence to international standards; that links between norms, standards, and peacebuilding are clearly drawn; that international watchdogs have real teeth; that justice and transparency make peace in conflict-ridden societies; and, not least, that businesses are beacons of best practice on all of the above.
Practical issues have arisen as well. Firms are increasingly confronted with ethical dilemmas like roadblock economies, where checkpoint payments by businesses to rebels can worsen local conflict through the very mechanisms necessary to secure local market access. Evidence from Afghanistan, Congo, and Colombia indicate that business operations have made wars worse through these payoffs even as they promise that corporate presence will bring local development. Worse, what many businesses and INGOs might call ‘inclusive community empowerment’ can be labeled by local actors—especially in repressive regimes or ethnically divided societies—as enabling ‘dangerous resistance movements’ or ‘anti-nationalist.’ Further, these well-meaning initiatives can also create new conflict fissures by eroding local government capacity as its duties are farmed out to foreign entities. This ‘corporate paternalism’ harkens back to the colonial past and the United States a century ago when company towns asserted absolute control over goods, services, and even governance of local populations.
From Action to Impact: Taking Business and Peace Forward
Of course, most firms are well aware of how messy (and unprofitable) these ventures can be in practice. So why do they still want to expand their peacebuilding presence? New strategic incentives are at play, including the aspirational elements of how pro-peace actions support a visible, positive corporate culture, and the impression of a virtuous firm; the belief that a corporation can go beyond ‘responsibilities’ to a re-thinking the role of business in society that incentivizes peace action; and a more general CEO mindset that is about more than making money. These thrusts can come from shareholders, boards, or management training, and increasingly mandate business action to try to facilitate peace.
Moreover, IGOs and business scholars are already moving beyond CSR into political and diplomatic engagement realms. The United Nations has integrated business into its Responsibility to Protect and Responsibility While Protecting platforms, and perhaps no initiative epitomizes this shift better than the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (BAHR), the first global standard on how businesses should protect human rights. The belief is that if firms comply with this and other international rights principles, they will ipso facto contribute to peace—regardless of the fact that the initiatives themselves fall outside the scope of what most academics and practitioners call ‘peacebuilding.’ It may also be punitive, as ongoing UN sessions are working to draft a “legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” There remain major gaps between the public fanfare of businesses becoming signatories to BAHR frameworks and the complexity of actionable human rights guidance (or legitimate punitive threats), but deeper and more comprehensive business engagements into peace arenas continue to multiply.
But how businesses integrate peace action within their corporate structure is more complicated and institutional change to forward societal value has been hard to do.Interaction effects between large firms and their local subsidiaries on CSR and peace also matter. Our research on Heineken and its Bralima subsidiary in the Congo showed how HQ was vocal about their CSR goals, but pressured local staff to focus instead on raising profits and increasing market share. Still, with an increasing push on not if businesses should be involved, but how we can discover the right conditions for impact, international businesses in particular are primed to become more deeply involved in the double-edged sword of peace engagement.
Going forward, who gets to define what constitutes a ‘business-peace contribution’ may be the biggest predictor of how deep these interactions truly get. Firms argue that researchers need to quantify the costs and benefits for business to proactively improve upon the conditions of conflict that best facilitate involvement in peacebuilding, and need definable metrics for when they should and shouldn’t intervene. However, conflict triggers that spur firms to action often generate only development initiatives—positive outcomes MNCs pride themselves for—which are unlikely to generate peace or mitigate conflict. Ultimately, B4P might be laudable simply because it gets businesses to commit to ‘peace undefined,’ creating a space for NGOs and other stakeholders to then engage, contend, and expand what exactly is or ought to be at stake.
These developments portend a deep sense of urgency to better understand business-peace actions to allow for more conscientious guidance. Our research suggests that the most effective engagements do not arise from pre-conceived notions of which business actions promote peace, but require grounded fieldwork for each specific operational setting, making the concrete peace outcomes by different stakeholders explicit. Even the seemingly most positive, ‘win-win’ business-peace action, if implemented hastily, can have unintended consequences. While this undoubtedly makes it harder to operationalize peacebuilding for business, it is much more likely that long-term results will be more robust for the firm and of deeper value to the local communities who should always be regarded as the ultimate peacebuilders.
The need to customise innovation indicators in developing countries
Innovation is becoming more and more important as a driver of economic growth. In developed countries, a diverse set of innovation indicators has been developed to monitor innovation performance and the impact of innovation policies. Developing countries have been late to jump on this bandwagon and are now faced with a set of well-established innovation indicators that might not be that well suited to measure innovation in their economies.
Existing innovation indicators can be broadly classified into three different types: Science & Technology (S&T) indicators, Innovation survey indicators, and Composite innovation indicators combining different indicators, including S&T and Innovation survey data, into one indicator. All of these have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, and they score above or below average on a wide range of attributes considered to be favourable, if not downright necessary, for innovation indicators.
This paper argues that, for innovation indicators, and for innovation survey indicators in particular, data collection has to be customised to the different socio-economic structures of developing countries. For this, the definition of innovation has to become more inclusive by recognising the multitude of innovation actors and processes in developing countries. Developing countries also need to build competence regarding innovation indicators, not only within their statistical systems but also among their policy makers.
JEL Classification: O38, O32, O29, P47
Keywords: innovation, indicators, developing countries, policy use
Higher Education Institutions - key drivers of the Sustainable Development Goals
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT and UNCTAD, was created in 2012 in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). With commitments from over 300 universities from around the world, HESI accounted for more than one-third of all the voluntary commitments that were launched at Rio+20. Through its strong association with the United Nations, HESI provides higher education institutions with a unique interface between higher education, science, and policy making.
In support of the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda, UN DESA has collaborated with a flagship initiative supported by HESI – The SULITEST – and has include questions around the SDGs in the Sulitest assessment platform for assessing knowledge of students of Higher Education Institutions around the world. To date, over 60,000 tests have been administered. The results of which can be found in this report 'Mapping Awareness of the Global Goals'.
HESI provides a unique interface for higher education institutions to share their experiences and strategies for advancing the sustainable development agenda.
All higher education institutions may join the network freely. Higher education institutions part of HESI commit to:
1) Teach sustainable development across all disciplines of study,
2) Encourage research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge,
3) Green campuses and support local sustainability efforts, and
4) Engage and share information with international networks.
Join by clicking “Register initiative” at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnerships/hesi
Education, migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
This briefing explores the challenges and opportunities related to primary-school education for migrants – especially in host countries – and the implications for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). It highlights why education matters for migrants and their host countries, trends in primary education, and how migrant education contributes to the achievement of various Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly Goal 4.
- 31 million school-aged children are international migrants, and this number is set to grow. Their education is therefore a long-term strategic priority and investment.
- Educating migrant children is essential to meet SDG 4, and more broadly to achieve economic and social benefits such as improved livelihoods, better health outcomes, reductions in gender inequities and enhanced political participation.
- Large and unexpected migration flows can disrupt education systems, disadvantage migrant and refugee children and create tensions in host communities. To combat this, a combination of forward-planning and contingency funding is needed.
- Education plays an important role in social integration, economic mobility and learning outcomes. Migrant children should not be placed in segregated classes or schools, nor solely taught in their native language.
- There is limited data on the education of migrant and refugee children. Government and international institutions need to collaborate to collect such data, and use it to support vulnerable groups.
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa
Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.
In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.
Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.
Africa’s largest economic partner
In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.
We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.
Chinese firms in Africa
Behind these macro numbers are thousands of previously uncounted Chinese firms operating across Africa. In the eight African countries on which we focused, the number of Chinese-owned firms we identified was between two and nine times the number registered by China’s Ministry of Commerce, until now the largest database of Chinese firms in Africa. Extrapolated across the continent, our findings suggest there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating in Africa today (Exhibit 2).
Around 90 percent of these firms are privately owned—calling into question the notion of a monolithic, state-coordinated investment drive by “China, Inc.” Although state-owned enterprises tend to be bigger, particularly in specific sectors such as energy and infrastructure, the sheer number of private Chinese firms working toward their own profit motives suggests that Chinese investment in Africa is a more market-driven phenomenon than is commonly understood.
Chinese firms operate across many sectors of the African economy. Nearly a third are involved in manufacturing, a quarter in services, and around a fifth each in trade and in construction and real estate. In manufacturing, we estimate that 12 percent of Africa’s industrial production—valued at some $500 billion a year in total—is already handled by Chinese firms. In infrastructure, Chinese firms’ dominance is even more pronounced, and they claim nearly 50 percent of Africa’s internationally contracted construction market.
The Chinese firms we talked to are mostly profitable. Nearly one-third reported 2015 profit margins of more than 20 percent. They are also agile and quick to adapt to new opportunities. Except in a few countries such as Ethiopia, they are primarily focused on serving the needs of Africa’s fast-growing markets rather than on exports. An overwhelming 74 percent said they feel optimistic about the future. Reflecting this, most Chinese firms have made investments that represent a long-term commitment to Africa rather than trading or contracting activities.
Impact in African economies
At the Chinese companies we talked to, 89 percent of employees were African, adding up to nearly 300,000 jobs for African workers. Scaled up across all 10,000 Chinese firms in Africa, this suggests that Chinese-owned business employ several million Africans. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of Chinese employers provided some kind of skills training. In companies engaged in construction and manufacturing, where skilled labor is a necessity, half offer apprenticeship training.
Half of Chinese firms had introduced a new product or service to the local market, and one-third had introduced a new technology. In some cases, Chinese firms had lowered prices for existing products and services by as much as 40 percent through improved technology and efficiencies of scale. African government officials overseeing infrastructure development for their countries cited Chinese firms’ efficient cost structures and speedy delivery as major value adds.
On balance, we believe that China’s growing involvement is strongly positive for Africa’s economies, governments, and workers. However, there are areas for significant improvement:
By value, only 47 percent of the Chinese firms’ sourcing was from local African firms, representing a lost opportunity for local firms to benefit from Chinese investment.
Only 44 percent of local managers at the Chinese-owned companies we surveyed were African, though some Chinese firms have driven their local managerial employment above 80 percent (Exhibit 3). Other firms could follow suit.
There have been instances of labor and environmental violations by Chinese-owned businesses. These range from inhumane working conditions to illegal extraction of natural resources including timber and fish.
Differences in country engagement
At a national level, we focused on eight large African economies, and identified the following four distinct archetypes of the Africa–China partnership:
Robust partners. Ethiopia and South Africa have a clear strategic posture toward China, along with a high degree of economic engagement in the form of investment, trade, loans, and aid. For example, both countries have translated their national economic-development strategies into specific initiatives related to China, and they have also developed important relationships with Chinese provinces and with Beijing. As a result, China sees these African countries as true partners: reliably engaged and strategic for China’s economic and political interests. These countries have also created a strong platform for continued Chinese engagement through prominent participation in such forums as the Belt and Road initiative (previously known as One Belt, One Road), and they can therefore expect to see ongoing rapid growth in Chinese investment.
Solid partners. Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania do not yet have the same level of engagement with China as Ethiopia and South Africa, but government relations and Chinese business and investment activity are meaningful and growing. These three governments recognize China’s importance, but they have yet to translate this recognition into an explicit China strategy. Each has several hundred Chinese firms across a diverse set of sectors, but this presence has largely been the result of a passive posture relying on large markets or historical ties; much more is possible with true strategic engagement.
Unbalanced partners. In the case of Angola and Zambia, the engagement with China has been quite narrowly focused. For Angola, the government has supplied oil to China in exchange for Chinese financing and construction of major infrastructure projects—but market-driven private investment by Chinese firms has been limited compared with other African countries; only 70 to 75 percent of the Chinese companies in Angola are private, compared with around 90 percent in other countries. Zambia’s case is the opposite: there has been major private-sector investment but not enough oversight from regulatory authorities to avoid labor and corruption scandals.
Nascent partners. Côte d’Ivoire is at the very beginning of developing a partnership with China, and so the partnership model has yet to become clear. The country’s relatively small number of Chinese investors are focused on low-commitment industries such as trade.
The next decade
We interviewed more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, and nearly all of them said the Africa–China opportunity is larger than that presented by any other foreign partner—including Brazil, the European Union, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
But exactly how quickly will the Africa–China relationship grow in the decade ahead? We see two potential scenarios. In the first, the revenues of Chinese firms in Africa grow at a healthy clip to reach around $250 billion in 2025, from $180 billion today. This scenario would simply entail business as usual, with Chinese firms growing in line with the market, holding their current market shares steady as the African economy expands. Under this scenario, the same three industries that dominate Chinese business in Africa today—manufacturing, resources, and infrastructure—would dominate in 2025 as well.
We believe much more is possible: in a second scenario, Chinese firms in Africa could dramatically accelerate their growth. By expanding aggressively in both existing and new sectors, these firms could reach revenues of $440 billion in 2025. In this accelerated-growth scenario, not only do the three established industries of Chinese investment grow faster than the economy, but Chinese firms also make significant forays into five new sectors: agriculture, banking and insurance, housing, information communications technology and telecommunications, and transport and logistics. This expansion could start with Chinese firms moving into sectors related to the ones they currently dominate—for example, from construction into real estate and housing. Another part of this accelerated growth could come from Chinese firms more fully applying their formulas that have proved successful in China to markets in Africa, including business models in consumer technology, agriculture, and digital finance.
There is considerable upside for Africa if Chinese investment and business activity accelerate. At the macroeconomic level, African economies could gain greater capital investment to boost productivity, competitiveness, and technological readiness, and tens of millions more African workers could gain stable employment. At the microeconomic level, however, there will be winners and losers. Particularly in sectors such as manufacturing, where African firms are significantly lagging behind global productivity levels, African incumbents will need to dramatically improve their productivity and efficiency to compete—or partner effectively—with new Chinese companies on their turf.
With continued and likely growing Chinese investment, it will become ever more urgent to address the gaps in the Africa–China partnership, including by strengthening the role of African managers and partners in the growth of Chinese-owned businesses. Moreover, both Chinese and African actors will need to address three major pain points: corruption in some countries, concerns about personal safety, and language and cultural barriers. In five of the eight countries in which we conducted fieldwork, 60 to 87 percent of Chinese firms said they paid a “tip” or bribe to obtain a license. After corruption, the second-largest concern among Chinese firms is personal safety. For their part, our African interviewees described language and cultural barriers that lead to misunderstanding and ignorance of local regulations. If these problems are left unaddressed, the misunderstandings and potentially serious long-term social issues could weaken the overall sustainability of the Africa–China relationship.
Everyone—African or Chinese, government or private sector—has a role to play in realizing the promise of the Africa–China partnership. We suggest ten recommendations, consisting of actions to be taken by African and Chinese businesses and governments, to ensure the Africa–China relationship grows sustainably and delivers strong economic and social outcomes (Exhibit 4).
Download Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve? ,the full report on which this article is based—available in both English (PDF–3MB) and Chinese (PDF–5MB).
About the author(s)
Kartik Jayaram is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Nairobi office, where Omid Kassiri is a partner; Irene Yuan Sun is a consultant in the Washington, DC, office.
Accelerating Women's Economic Empowerment
- A recent panel of finance ministers and Chief Executive Officers called for tangible and country-level action for women’s economic empowerment
- Equal access to financial services, helping women build assets and professionalizing the care-giving sector can help accelerate progress in women’s economic empowerment
- The flagship event helped share recommendations from the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (HLP) report with delegations attending the 2017 WBG – IMF Spring Meetings
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2017 – Providing equal access to financial services, helping give women more power over income and assets like land and technology, and professionalizing the care-giving sector can help accelerate progress in women’s economic empowerment, especially in developing countries. But how should countries get it done?
These and other practical questions were addressed by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, UN Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, finance ministers and CEOs during the WBG-IMF Spring Meetings flagship event on Boosting Women’s Economic Empowerment. The speakers called for finance ministers to join with the private sector and others who want to take action to expand economic opportunities for women, which is key to helping countries reach their full economic potential.
Through its operational work on the ground and high level dialogue at venues such as the WBG-IMF Spring Meetings, the WBG aims to catalyze action and work side by side with governments, companies and other partners to close remaining gaps in access to education and maternal health in those countries where those gaps persist, while also accelerating efforts to enhance women’s economic opportunity: more and better jobs, ownership and control of productive assets like land and housing, access to finance, technology and insurance services, and increased capacity and opportunity to act independently at home, in the community and in various levels of government.
However much work still lies ahead if the world is to achieve gender equality by 2030 - Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 and related targets. In particular, women’s economic opportunity lags that of men in every country of the world, at a cost to individuals, families, communities and economies.
The speakers discussed various aspects of this challenge, including how to help women access financial solutions. In opening remarks, WBG President Jim Yong Kim said, “We’ve known for a long time that access to financial services can be a powerful driver to help people lift themselves out of poverty. With a concerted push from governments, the private sector, and multilateral institutions including the World Bank Group, we believe we can close this gap.” Kim offered examples of WBG efforts, including doubling the amount of money its Banking on Women program lends to women entrepreneurs from $1 billion to $2 billion and the WBG’s testing of innovations to find alternatives to collateral requirements at commercial banks.
Sigve Brekke, president and CEO of Telenor Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, said they are providing access to financial tools for communities in emerging markets in Asia. “In a country like Myanmar for example, you know less than 10% of the female population have a bank account,” he said. “Our objective then is to include them all in the banking sector by providing them with a digital banking solution. This is a tool to grow their economies, and make sure that females are also included in the financial sector.”
Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA Switzerland, added that one way governments can work toward supporting women entering the workforce or owning assets is by changing laws that discriminate against women and addressing social norms that influence those laws. Scarpaleggia co-chaired the UN Secretary General High Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment, which issued two reports focusing on transformative policies and actions that governments, the private sector, and civil society can take to advance women’s economic empowerment. The proposed policies were chosen based on seven priorities identified in the HLP’s first report, Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment, which presented evidence to support the case for addressing systemic constraints to economic opportunity for women. The reports summarize information from a range of sources, including Women Business and the Law, which found that nearly 190 countries have discriminatory laws that impede women’s employment and entrepreneurship.
Finance minister of Indonesia Sri Mulyani Indrawati illustrated Scarpaleggia’s point, saying she revised income tax laws in Indonesia to allow women to file taxes separately from their husbands for the first time. “When you can file taxes independently, this means that you have your own assets and you are going to be able to access banking and finance,” said Indrawati, who also served as World Bank Group managing director and COO from 2010-2016.
Bill Morneau, Canada’s minister of finance, offered another example of what government leaders can do to reach larger scale solutions, having instituted a requirement that each government ministry must look at their budgets and analyze the impact on advancing gender equity in the workplace before he will consider their proposals. “We believe that getting to gender equity, empowering women is one of the central features of what we’re trying to achieve,” Morneau said. “We start with the idea that we need to look at our budget as a vehicle for making a difference.”
Scarpaleggia added insight on specific actions companies and institutions can take, citing her company IKEA Switzerland’s having already achieved gender parity. She said it took making gender equality an explicit corporate value, strong and committed leadership, willingness to look for and then acknowledge gaps between stated corporate values and actual behavior, and making a conscious decision to change. Once the decision was made, the company focused on building awareness and socializing the idea among staff internally to help overcome initial resistance, which usually accompanies such a big change, she added. “We changed our internal processes to ensure they were gender neutral. We worked on unconscious biases. We set goals. We committed on the occasion of the HLP to reach gender parity throughout all our units in the world by 2020. It takes work, and leadership plays an important role. But it IS possible.”
Echoing efforts by the other speakers, Brekke said Telenor is also working towards gender balance within the company by meeting targets in top management positions. While empowering women economically is good for families, communities and countries, Brekke noted that gender equity is also good business.
“It’s good business because we need to represent our customers, and we see that a much better balance between genders creates innovation, creates better services, creates better products,” Brekke said. “That’s why it’s so important to set these targets and not only talk about it, but actually do something with it in practice.”
President Kim, who became the first UN HeforShe Thematic Champion of an international financial institution - committing to close the gender gap within senior management by 2020 - highlighted unpaid work, such as care-giving for children and elderly family members, as a critical impediment to women’s economic opportunity. “We must redistribute care work,” said Kim. “It too often remains the sole domain of women and that has got to change.”
WBG Senior Director for Gender Caren Grown added in a follow up interview that “care needs to be seen as a public good. It produces the next generation of workers, it has important development effects for children, and is an important sector of employment for women and men. Solving this will need both public and private sector support and financing.”
That sentiment was shared by Mlambo-Ngcuka, who said, “Unless the private sector and public sector make this private issue a public one, many women might never work.”
Close Skills Gaps to Prepare Africa's Workforce for Tomorrow's Jobs
- Every year for the next three decades, 15-20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce
- Employers across the region identify skills gaps as a major constraint to their ability to compete in the global economy
- In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across all jobs will be wholly different by 2020, while 41% of jobs in South Africa are susceptible to automation
- Read the full report here. For more information about the World Economic Forum on Africa, please visit wef.ch/af17
With more than 60% of its population under the age of 25, sub-Saharan Africa is already the world’s youngest region and, by 2030, it will be home to more than one-quarter of the world’s under-25 population. As this young population – the best-educated and globally connected the continent has ever had – enters the world of work, the region has a demographic opportunity. But the region can only leverage this opportunity by unlocking latent talent and preparing its people for the future of work.
A new report launched by the World Economic Forum aims to serve as a practical guide for leaders from business, government, civil society and the education sector, and finds that the region’s capacity to adapt to the requirements of future jobs leaves little space for complacency. While a number of African economies are relatively underexposed to labour market disruptions at present, this picture is changing rapidly. This window of opportunity must be used by the region’s leaders to prepare for tomorrow.
Key findings from the report, which includes new data from LinkedIn, are:
- While it is predicted that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation – as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya – it is likely moderated by comparatively low labour costs and offset by job creation. Despite this window of opportunity, the region’s capacity to adapt to further job disruption is a concern.
- Employers across the region identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of firms in Tanzania and 30% in Kenya, while others say they feel less pressure (9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria). However, this pattern may worsen across the region in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.
- This skills instability often stems from the fact that many jobs in the region are becoming more intense in their use of digital technologies. Average ICT intensity of jobs in South Africa increased by 26% over the last decade, while 6.7% of all formal-sector employment in Ghana and 18.4% of all formal-sector employment in Kenya occurs in occupations with high ICT intensity.
- Some of the most common types of higher-skilled employment on the continent include business analysts, school teachers and academics, commercial bankers, accountants, human resources, marketing and operations specialists, customer service specialists, advertising professionals, information technology workers and software and app developers, according to LinkedIn’s data.
“Across the continent, substantial potential exists for creating high-value-adding, formal-sector jobs in a number of areas. However, to realize this potential, closer dialogue between education providers and industry is needed to align and optimize the region’s demand and supply of skills,” said Nicolaas Kruger, Chief Executive Officer of MMI Holdings and Chair of the Africa Skills Initiative.
The initiative, part of the broader efforts of the Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Education, Gender and Work, serves as a platform to help change this. It provides new insight, brings together business efforts to address future-oriented skills development and supports constructive public-private dialogue for urgent and fundamental reform of education systems and labour policies to prepare workforces for the future of jobs. The Africa Skills Initiative is inviting businesses in partnership with government, civil society, and the education and training sectors to make quantifiable commitments to skill, upskill or reskill 1 million people by 2018 and 5 million people by 2020 in Africa, the Middle East and other regions.
“The data show that, to prepare for the future of work, the region must expand its high-skilled talent pool by developing future-ready curricula, with a particular emphasis on STEM education; increase digital fluency and ICT literacy across the population; provide robust and respected technical and vocational education; and create a culture of life-long learning, including the provision of adult training and upskilling infrastructure,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.
Development Malpractice In Ghana
By Kevin Starr
Last week, I went to see a water organization called Saha in northern Ghana. Saha works in hot, flat country where hard seasonal rains are followed by long dry spells. There are few year-round streams, and underground water is impossibly deep, so villages collect and store rainwater in big, open ponds known as dugouts. These ponds are unprotected, and the water people take home is liberally seasoned with the excreta of various two- and four-legged animals. It starts out bad and gets worse as the dry season goes on.
Saha has a great fix. They find entrepreneurial women in local villages, and set them up with a chlorinating business that uses simple materials and simple procedures. The women collect water in a barrel and add alum, a cheap and easy-to-get chemical that binds with sediment and clarifies the water. The clear water goes into a big plastic tank. When the tank is full, the owner drops in a precise number of chlorine tablets—available in nearby markets—and opens for business. Saha provides every household in the village with a 20-liter plastic bucket equipped with a lid and a tap, and customers pay a little more than two cents to fill it. At four liters per person per day, two days of clean water for a family of five costs about a nickel.
Saha makes it really easy to get clean water that will stay clean. The water is affordable even for the very poor, and the business sits right next to the dugout. Pairing the residual effects of chlorine with the protection of a well-designed container prevents recontamination. The fact that these are profitable businesses using local materials keeps the whole ball rolling.
And Saha does rigorous ongoing monitoring, with systematic collection and analysis of random water samples from business and homes. They’ve set up businesses in a hundred villages so far, and all are still running. In random checks of all businesses, 99 percent of the water coming out of the tap is clean—free of bacteria—and 98 percent of the Saha home containers have clean water in them. Those are the best numbers I’ve ever heard of in the industry, but the Saha team is not satisfied; they believe they can—and should—do better.
Saha is a not-for-profit. They realized a long time ago that to hit a price that all can afford, they would have to subsidize the cost of the initial business set-up and the ongoing monitoring support. Here’s the thing, though: That subsidy works out to about 13 bucks per person for 10 years of clean water. Jaw-dropping.
When we went out to see the work, the first few Saha businesses looked great: lots of customers, decent profits, equipment in good order, homes with full containers of clean water. Then we got to a village called Kulaa, where the business was on the verge of failing after two years of struggle. I thought we were going to hear about the difficulties of overcoming long-held customs or the challenges of running a business when you’re barely literate, but instead we sat under a tree talking to a slightly dazed-looking woman who told us of an exhausting uphill battle against the forces of good intentions.
She’d gotten off to a reasonably good start—she’d mastered the business, every household in the village had a Saha container, and her customer base was growing. So far, so good. Then people from the government came through (that’s who people thought they were, anyway) and distributed ceramic filters—a sort of bowl mounted on top of a 50 liter plastic bucket—for free to every household. Everybody started using those filters instead of buying Saha water, but by about six months in, most of the filters had either broken or clogged. The filters could be cleaned, but nobody knew how, and of course there was no way to replace ones that broke. (The buckets remained useful, though—we saw one serving as a nice little clothes hamper.)
The ceramic filter episode killed Saha’s initial momentum, but the business survived, and things were starting to look up when some American church group blew into town with a truckload of LifeStraw Family gravity filters. Distribution was hit or miss, but most households managed to get one. The LifeStraw Family filter is a bit fiddly and slow, and the filter must cleaned just so, but villagers seem to have made an effort to use it (“What the hell, it’s free!”). Who knows how much the church group did to train people to use and clean the filter, but it wasn’t enough (it never is). We managed to find three of them, only one of which was in use. Two had broken and no one had any idea how to get them fixed or find another one. The one that was still in use had clogged and the owner didn’t know how to clean the filter element. Somehow he was still getting water through it, though, and while the water was still turbid, he – reasonably – figured it must be clean enough to drink. It wasn’t. We tested the water in the lab – it was positive for E. coli and coliforms, which means there was shit in it.
Then—then—some other NGO came through and gave the village a “backpack” water filtration thingy. It’s a big blue plastic box with carrying straps, a hose coming in from the pond, and a little tap coming out. I think there is a sand filter inside. We trooped out to the pond to see it. The water coming out of the tap was clear, but it came out slowly. It took a full minute to fill a 1500 cc container. That translates to about 13 minutes to supply the 20 liters one family needs to get through the day. That means that the hundred or so households in the village would need about 22 hours to fill their containers, even if they were willing and able to wait in line around the clock. Absurd. Oh, and we tested the water; it was clean coming out of the tap, but when we tested it in the homes, it was contaminated.
In sum, this village has seen four water interventions. The last three didn’t work, and each of them managed to screw the one that would have. It’s a tawdry story that does all-too-good of a job illustrating some basic principles of development, namely:
1. There is a huge opportunity cost to failure. When you do something stupid, you either a) wreck something that is working or could have worked, or b) or blow the people’s one chance to get anything ever. Once a well is drilled, a clinic built, or a program delivered, an NGO or government official checks a box, and future resources go somewhere else. Failure is worse than nothing.
2. Most “training” for end users is useless. Some guy came by my house the other day to teach me how to keep the wifi up and running. The next day, I screwed it up. So it is for things like water filters. If a product or technology intended for consumers requires “training,” it’s probably going to fail.
3. It’s all about follow-up. If you can’t provide repair and replacement, if you can’t monitor performance over time, don’t do it. If you can’t make a strong case that, say, two years from now, things will still be working—and in a way that inspires confidence that it will work over the long haul—don’t do it. Stuff breaks in ways you can’t even imagine, people use things in completely unpredictable ways, and unintended consequences rule supreme. The devastation of lake ecosystems in Africa from fishers repurposing fine-mesh mosquito nets is a fine example of the kind of debacle that could be avoided with some decent monitoring over time.
I could go on, but these are the big rules that were violated in poor Kulaa. This is development malpractice: Kids died because of a series of ill-conceived projects. If you designed them, you’re responsible. If you implemented them, you’re responsible. If you were part of another organization, recognized this was bad, and said nothing, you’re responsible. And perhaps most of all, if you fund crap projects like this, you’re responsible, whether you’re a church group, a foundation, a development agency, or the government. We can’t keep doing this.
So. If you see something, say something. If you become aware of someone planning/doing/funding stuff like this, talk to them, educate them, dissuade them. Do it respectfully and thoughtfully. If that doesn’t work, call them out in whatever forum you can. If they work for you, fire them. Make them accountable. Don’t let these things happen. Don’t let yourself become cynical. Do something.
In the end, what really set Kulaa up for failure was its proximity to Tamale, the biggest town in north-central Ghana, and one where NGOs are the primary growth industry. Kulaa is poor, but it’s easy to get to—you can do your ineffective training and be back for a refreshing Coke by early afternoon. The villages where Saha thrives are the ones farthest out, beyond the reach of other development NGOs. That pretty much says it all.
Kevin Starr (@mulagostarr) directs the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program.
Source: Stanford Social Innoation Review
How Do State's Business Relations Shape Sustainable Development?
The achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will depend on the ways in which states and businesses engage with one another.
While state–business interactions can take many forms, they inherently involve processes of negotiation through which actors in both camps pursue their own interests. Successfully accelerating sustainability, generating inclusion or reducing inequalities will depend on whether such negotiations build on and support interdependencies, create trust, and develop shared ideas about challenges and potential solutions. But the factors that determine the nature and outcomes of state–business relations are not yet well-enough understood, particularly in relation to goals beyond economic growth, where trade-offs are often more apparent.
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Related IDS Researchers
Putting theory into practice: how DFID is doing development differently
To tackle today’s big global challenges, we need to move beyond the classic aid assumption: that if only we provide enough money and technical knowledge, these problems will be solved. We need to engage with the underlying social, political and economic systems, and the incentives and behaviours of the actors within them. Doing this is not easy. It requires a focus on testing, learning and adapting, working with local reformers to define, debate and refine problems and their solutions, and being politically smart about how donors work in diverse contexts.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has begun to take some of these challenges seriously, focusing on how its own processes and systems need to adapt. This report reflects the experience of staff from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in supporting these efforts within DFID throughout 2016. It is particularly timely: commitments to do development differently have particular relevance as DFID is coming under considerable political and media scrutiny and scepticism.
We found that DFID’s portfolio of programmes increasingly exhibit some ‘doing development differently’ features, across sectoral work on governance, private sector development, basic service delivery, conflict and gender. There is a growing emphasis on being ‘problem driven’ – setting aside standard formulas and templates and focusing instead on specific constraints to development that need to be unlocked to enable progress. Less encouragingly, DFID programmes have found it harder to commit upfront to experimentation and ‘learning by doing’ as a core method of work.
We therefore recommend DFID takes action in the following areas:
- build leadership vision and a supportive management culture;
- make adaptation more strategic;
- move towards more ‘adaptation by design’;
- streamline approval and procurement to manage uncertainty; and
- find new ways to support locally led problem solving.
Women's economic empowerment at the international level
Women’s economic empowerment is a transformational process, in which women gain increased access to, and power over, economic assets and economic decisions. Taking into account inequalities and discrimination, and the way they are experienced by different women, is critical to secure progress.
Much of women’s paid work remains informal and highly precarious and on average women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. Women’s economic empowerment cannot be achieved while significant gender gaps in women’s paid and unpaid work exist globally.
This briefing note was prepared for the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) of the European Parliament for their mission to the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017. The note focuses on the key priority theme of the 61st Session: 'Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work'.
Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS's Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development
Edström, J., Chopra, D., Müller, C., Nazneen, S., Oosterhoff, P., Wood, S. and Zambelli, E. with Bannister, A., Brambilla, P. and Mason, P. Publisher IDS Download this publication (9MB)
We here aim to outline priority directions for future research on gender and sexuality in development, which are needed to advance our understanding of gender and sexuality in an increasingly unequal, polarised and volatile world.
We also aim to build support and collaboration in this endeavour, with funders, policymakers, partners and colleagues, by outlining the key questions raised and recommended ways of approaching research to provide answers in support of transformative responses for social justice.
The agenda represents the outcome of a nine-month collaborative effort building on lessons from global work by the Institute of Development Studies, partner organisations and networks over the past decade. It draws in perspectives from external experts and policymakers through two small targeted surveys and expert interviews, as well as discussions and consultations at a range of events during 2016.
It comes at a time not only of major changes in global politics and trends, but also of major shifts in international development itself, following the establishment of the global goals for sustainable development or ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ in Agenda 2030.
IMANI to Launch Tracker for "Free SHS" called EQUINOX- Expanding Quality, Inclusion & New Opportunities in Education
A raging debate over the feasibility and funding of Ghana’s secondary education has reached its zenith with the announcement of expanded subsidies for almost every fee-paying item on the high school menu by the state, in fulfilment of a political campaign promise by the new government. The campaign promise is famously known as “Free Senior High School’’ or “Free SHS’’.
There is a fair amount of consensus in Ghana today for the first 12 years of education to be guaranteed for every child of school-going age.
There is at the same time widespread concern about educational outcomes. Many objective international measures suggest that academic performance, aptitude development and skills acquisition are either stagnant of falling.
Every major section of the political elite has committed to addressing these problems as a matter of urgency.
What is less apparent on the surface of the debates and discussions is that both expanding access and enhancing outcomes depend on an injection of more resources in addition to structural reforms, especially in the area of supervision and accountability. It appears even less evident that the public appreciates the significant diversity among models used worldwide for this two-prong approach of fixing access and quality outcomes synergistically.
The ruling NPP government has decided to opt for a model that relies on expanded government subvention, fees abolishment and general taxation.
The Minister of Education has announced a September 2017 timeline and a budget of $800 million for implementation. It is not clear if this is additional money or the aggregate Senior High School (SHS) budget once the rollout commences.
We will assume that he is referring to the size of the total SHS budget (currently at ~$330 million) in the 2017/2018 academic year as a result of the program’s commencement. His enrolment projections seem however over-optimistic. He appears to believe that an additional 800,000 students can be added to the secondary education population within a year of program launch. This is both arithmetically and analytically difficult to understand.
If current enrolment rates of 65% at secondary level are credible, then it is unlikely that additional numbers exceeding 400,000 new students can be recorded in the medium-term. This underscores our suspicion that a good deal of the funding for this project will go to administrative overheads rather than into direct investments into school budgets. The Minister’s numbers appear to indicate an administrative budget of more than $400 million. This is the only conclusion to draw as his numerical projections are suspect.
Even from this brief discussion it is clear that there is still considerable confusion about the underlying statistics and operational methodology, not to even talk of conceptual coherence, as far as the government’s choice of universal, effective, SHS is concerned.
That is why IMANI is announcing the launch of a new Tracker for what has popularly, even if also erroneously, come to be known as ‘FREE SHS’.
The Tracker shall be known as EQUINOX- Expanding Quality, Inclusion & New Opportunities in Education
EQUINOX is a unified gauge with composite indicators. These indicators include ‘enrolment trajectory’, ‘per capita. spending’, ‘per capita spending efficiency’, ‘assessment metrics’, ‘resource disbursement schedules’, and ‘resource availability metrics’.
We are very much aware that mixing qualitative and quantitative metrics to obtain standardised ratings can be both difficult and problematic, but we have assembled methodology that shall be validated during the baseline studies we are commencing. The other methodological concern is frequency of reporting, to the extent that this depends on the ‘movement’, ‘volatility’ or ‘periodicity’ of the core indicators. If changes in status cannot be measured at fairly frequent intervals, regular reporting becomes useless, and public interest, and even confidence, can wane.
Yet, some important features of public education change much too slowly to generate the kind of movement in indicator measurements necessary to sustain public interest and therefore to advance advocacy goals. For example, changes in enrolment figures can only be detected at the onset of the academic year. Thus, a quarterly publishing period will not show any significant movement on that score.
Of course, the punctuality of resource disbursement can be measured from trimester to trimester, which is as close to quarterly as possible.
Satisfaction level surveys can be stubbornly qualitative, with a high degree of subjectivity, raising serious concerns about such the impact of such major fault lines in our politics and society such as the rural-urban divide, the NPP-NDC geographic ‘stronghold’ effect, and philosophical issues about ‘citizen expectations’ in a patronage-based political system.
Our current conviction on ‘periodicity’ is that ‘continuous’ exhibition of the results in real-time and a regulated amount of ‘crowdsourcing’ to garner input from the public would be essential, rather than damaging, to the integrity of the Tracker.
We already have some software architectural ideas in mind, though our intention is to start with rather simple database designs and easy-going user interfaces so as not to overcomplicate the project. The chance to combine participation, accountability and content depth in one strategy is however too tempting not to give the idea our fullest attention.
We have taken these and many more factors in mind. The inception report we aim to publish in due course with provisional results from our baseline studies shall shed more light on how EQUINOX shall resolve the challenges of measurement, standardisation, and integrity.
IMANI does not aim to go alone in this massive effort. Serious steps are being made to establish a multi-stakeholder program within, across, and beyond Ghanaian civil society in recognition of the deep national character of this intervention.
The hope is that many of our readers, supporters, and friends shall reach out enthusiastically to share ideas and offer suggestions for the success of this endeavour.
Sustainable Business Can Unlock at Least US$12 Trillion in New Market Value, and Repair Economic System
New report shows next decade critical for companies to open 60 key market
“hot spots,” tackle social, environmental challenges, and re-build trust with society
London (16 January, 2017) — More than 35 CEOs and civil society leaders of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (the Commission) today reveal that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. Putting the Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, at the heart of the world’s economic strategy could unleash a step-change in growth and productivity, with an investment boom in sustainable infrastructure as a critical driver. However, this will not happen without radical change in the business and investment community. Real leadership is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to fix the economy.
In its flagship report Better Business, Better World, the Commission recognises that while the last few decades have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, they have also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, ever more debt and ever greater environmental risks. This mix has fueled an anti-globalisation reaction in many countries, with business and financial interests seen as central to the problem, and is undermining the long-term economic growth that the world needs. The Commission has spent the last year exploring a central question, “What will it take for business to be central to building a sustainable market economy—one that can help to deliver the Global Goals?” Better Business, Better World—the release of which is timed with the World Economist Forum in Davos and the U.S. presidential inauguration—shows how.
“This report is a call to action to business leaders. We are on the edge and business as usual will drive more political opposition and land us with an economy that simply doesn't work for enough people. We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. “Better Business, Better World shows there is a compelling incentive for why the latter isn’t just good for the environment and society; it makes good business sense.”
At the heart of the Commission’s argument are the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals)—17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030. The Commission believes the Global Goals provide the private sector with a new growth strategy that opens valuable market opportunities while creating a world that is both sustainable and inclusive. And the potential rewards for doing so are significant.
The report reveals 60 sustainable and inclusive market “hotspots” in just four key economic areas could create at least US$12 trillion, worth over 10% of today’s GDP. The breakdown of the four areas and their potential values are: Energy US$4.3 trillion; Cities: US$3.7 trillion; Food & Agriculture US$2.3 trillion; Health & Well-being US$1.8 trillion.
“Global Goals hot spots” identified in the report have the potential to grow 2-3 times faster than average GDP over the next 10-15 years. Beyond the US$12 trillion directly estimated, conservative analysis shows potential for an additional US$8 trillion of value creation across the wider economy if companies embed the Global Goals in their strategies. The report also shows that factoring in the cost of externalities (negative impacts from business activities such as carbon emissions or pollution) increases the overall value of opportunities by almost 40%.
“At a time when our economic model is pushing the limits of our planetary boundaries and condemning many to a future without hope, the Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way out,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and a commissioner. “Many are now realizing the enormous opportunities that exist for enlightened businesses willing to stand up and address these urgent challenges. But every day that passes is another lost opportunity for action. We must react quickly, decisively and collectively to ensure a fairer and more prosperous world for all.”
While the opportunities are compelling, the Business Commission makes it clear that two critical conditions must be met to build these new markets. First, innovative financing from both private and public sources will be needed to unlock the US$2.4 trillion required annually to achieve the Global Goals.
“As stewards of long-term capital, the investment industry and its clients can support the achievement of the SDGs by creating simple, standardized sustainability metrics integral to the investment process,” said Hendrik du Toit, CEO, Investec Asset Management, and member of the Commission. “We also need new streamlined partnerships with governments and communities that can reduce risks for everyone and bring more private investment at lower cost into sustainable infrastructure development.”
At the same time, the Commission believes a “new social contract” between business, government and society is essential to defining the role of business in a new, fairer economy. The recently released 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reinforces this idea. It shows that while CEO credibility is sharply down, 75% of general population respondents agree that “a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.” And they can do so in ways that align with recommendations and actions outlined in Better Business, Better World: rebuilding trust by creating decent jobs, rewarding workers fairly, investing in the local community and paying a fair share of taxes.
"The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement is a zero-carbon, zero-poverty world,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, and commissioner. “To achieve these Global Goals, we need to rebuild trust. A new social contract for business where people, their environment and economic development are rebalanced can ensure that everybody's sons and daughters are respected with freedom of association, minimum living wages, collective bargaining and safe work assured. Only a new business model based on old principles of human rights and social justice will support a sustainable future.”
Throughout 2017, the Commission will focus on working with companies to strengthen corporate alignment with the Global Goals, including: mentoring the next generation of sustainable development leaders; creating sectorial roadmaps and league tables that rank corporate performance against the Global Goals; and supporting measures to unlock blended finance for sustainable infrastructure investment. "We need to show these ideas work not just in a report but on the business frontline," said Dr. Amy Jadesimi, CEO of LADOL, a Nigerian logistics and infrastructure development company, and a member of the Commission.
“The Global Goals provide a sustainable, profitable growth model for business, and have the potential to trigger a new competitive ‘race to the top,’” said Jeremy Oppenheim, Programme Director of the Commission. “The faster CEOs and boards make the Global Goals their business goals, the better off the world and their companies will be.”
How Companies Can Support Their Regions and Increase Social Legitimacy
By Verónica Devenin, PhD
How Companies Can Support Their Regions and Increase Social Legitimacy
January 9, 2017 by Verónica Devenin, PhD
For companies with high social and environmental impacts, success is tightly linked to the sustainability of the regions in which they operate. As they pursue regional sustainability, companies are learning that short-term, transactional relations benefit neither their business nor the communities over the long term.
A New Model for Community Relations
Collaborative community development is a model for companies to create shared value and develop healthy, long-term relationships with their stakeholders. This approach has three main characteristics:
- collaborative governance, which requires diverse stakeholders to participate in project definition, development, and management;
- involvement of many companies, including competitors, working together; and
- long-term focus on a territory, rather than short-term focus on specific stakeholders.
Collaborative community development provides companies with a clear and effective structure for involvement in sustainable development. The results benefit business and community.
Collaborating for Sustainable Growth in Chile
This guide is based on extensive research on two case studies in Chile. One case examines the Chilean city of Antofagasta, which experienced explosive economic growth as a result of a mining boom. But, this success led to pressure on services that the city was unprepared for. Compromised transport, services, and quality of life not only burdened the local community, but challenged companies in their efforts to draw on and retain talented workers, who saw the city as unattractive.
After conventional CSR attempts failed, a large mining company in the area initiated a collaborative community development effort that would systemically address the socio-economic impacts of the mining boom and the living experience for workers. The company built an alliance with local government and 12 other companies from various sectors. The alliance invested in high-quality participatory forums to engage the entire community of Antofagasta.
This initiative, Creo Antofgasta, developed a portfolio of long-term projects to promote the city’s sustainable urban development, focusing on seven areas of action including land use & growth, public space & green space, and economic diversification.
Collaborative Community Development vs. Conventional Approach
The chart below details how collaborative community development differs from traditional corporate community relations efforts.
A New Governance Structure
Collaborative governance is implemented with a high-level governing body that functions as a “board” and usually includes representatives from government, the private sector, and the community. A collaborative intermediary organization (CIO) manages the day-to-day activities of the collaborative initiative and project portfolio.
Figure 1. The Collaborative Intermediary Organization's Coordination Role
What's Included in this Guide
This guide draws on extensive research to help you chart your journey with collaborative community development. The guide explains when collaborative community development is appropriate, and provides detailed guidance on how to implement it. Case studies of other companies' experience illustrate the concepts.
Who Should Read this Guide
This approach is particularly relevant for companies that
- operate in a community with significant development needs
- share a territory with other companies
- have significant social and environmental impacts.
Managers seeking to strengthen their communities and increase their firm's social legitimacy will find this guide valuable. Community stakeholders who wish to work with businesses on sustainable development will also find useful tips on how to make their initiatives successful.
About this Research
This research was inspired by the Leadership Council of the Network for Business Sustainability Chile (CBS). NBS Chile is Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) hub for Latin America. The report is an extension of larger empirical research authored by Dr. Verónica Devenin, at the University Adolfo Ibañez (Chile), with guidance from members of the CBS Leadership Council.