Roundtable Discussion on Environmental Principles and Anti-corruption of UN Global Compact
CSR Centre in partnership with Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and UNDP Bangladesh organized a Roundtable Discussion on United Nations Global compact (UNGC) Principles on Environment & Anti-Corruption on December 22, 2010 from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm at the BEI Conference Room.
The discussion focused on two important UNGC Principles - Environment & Anti-Corruption. Session one focused on Environmental issues and session two focused on Anti-corruption. The objective of the event was to create a greater sense of awareness on environmental degradations and the negative impacts of corruption particularly to the ones related to CSR among the UN Global Compact signatories, and also organization from private and the public sectors. Signatories and members of the UNGC Local Network Bangladesh as well as non signatory organizations from different private and public sector were also present at the discussion.
Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and Chairman of the CSR Centre chaired both the sessions.
Mr. Mamunal H.Khan from the energy and environment cluster of UNDP Bangladesh was the Special Guest in the first session of the discussion. Dr. Ainun Nishat, Vice Chancellor of BRAC University and Dr. M. I. Sharif, Senior Fellow of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) were present as Guest Speakers. Addressing the recent global environment phenomenon and its adverse impact of community as well as across the globe, the speakers have emphasized on technological innovation and dissemination of information, capacity building, sustainable business practices of public and private sectors. H.E. Mr. Svend Olling, Ambassador of the Royal Danish Embassy, Dhaka was present as the Chief Guest in the first session. He wrapped up the session by placing a very enthusiastic note about cooperation and collaboration between the Danish Government and companies with the Government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders. His Excellency said that within the institutional framework of the UN Global Compact it is very much possible to use resources in a sustainable way.
In the second session, Mr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh, was present as the Keynote Speaker while Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation and Mr. Ahmed Ataul Hakeem FCMA, Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh was present at the discussion as Special Guests. The speakers accentuated on the right to access and dissemination of information to stand against all sorts of corruption and strengthening ethical values among all. Mr. Muhammad Zamir, the Chief Information Commissioner, was the Chief Guest at the Roundtable on Anti-Corruption. He wrapped up the session emphasizing on effective RTI (Right to Information) policy by increasing capacity as tool against corruption.
There was an open floor discussion after the two sessions where participants had the opportunity to express their opinion and suggestions. Some 50 participants were present at the roundtable discussion.
Roundtable Discussion on Labour Standards on UN Global Compact
The CSR Centre, in association with Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and the UNDP Bangladesh organized a seminar on “UN Global Compact Labour Standards” on July 7, 2010, from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm at the Lake Shore Hotel in Gulshan, Dhaka. The Honorable Minister of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Engineer Khandker Mosharraf Hossain was present as the Chief Guest at the Seminar. The objective of the Seminar was to promote the principles of the UN Global Compact among the private sector in Bangladesh, motivating them towards adopting better means of doing sustainable business.
Ms. Majeda Haq, Programme Analyst, Local Poverty Reduction Cluster and Cluster Head (a.i.) of UNDP Bangladesh, was present as a Special Guest at the Seminar. She, in her speech, invited the private sector to come forward in promoting good business practices and she said that the UN Global Compact can be a big platform for all size business organizations to practice CSR for creating a sustainable Bangladesh.
Mr. Golam Kibria, Country Head of Bureau Veritas Bangladesh, Advocate Fawzia Karim Firoze from the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association (BNWLA), Mr. Asgar Ali Sabri from ActionAid Bangladesh, Mr. Nurunnabi Khan from International Labour Organization (ILO) and Ms. Kristina Mejo, Regional Programme Manager of International Organization for Migration (IOM), presented papers on four different principles of UNGC labour standards and other labour issues.
The Global Compact Local Network was launched in Bangladesh in January 2009 jointly by UNDP Bangladesh, CSR Centre and BEI. Together, these 3 organizations comprise the principal promoters of the UNGC and its principles in Bangladesh. Today there are 47 signatories in Bangladesh to UNGC.
Roundtable Discussion on Human Rights of UN Global Compact
The UN Global Compact works all over the world to establish human rights through its local networks and being the joint focal point for UNGC in Bangladesh, CSR Centre and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute organized a round table discussion on “Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact” at the BEI Conference Room on 10th March 2010 from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Among the speakers there were Ms. Won Young Hong, Assistant Country Director, Democratic Governance Cluster of UNDP Bangladesh, Barrister Nihad Kabir, Senior Partner, Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed and Associates, Dr. A. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation and Mr. David Bergman, Advisor of Safety and Rights.
Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CSR Centre moderated the session. Mr. Sobhan said, “Human right is one of the four major principles of the UN Global Compact and still remains as one of the most challenging areas of Corporate Social Responsibility. While Human Rights continue to be the primary responsibility of governments, companies can do a lot within the context of their own business to support and respect the observance of human rights. As part of its commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the business community has a responsibility to uphold human rights both in its workplace and more broadly within its sphere of influence.”
Followed by a brief presentation for the UNGC Focal Points in Bangladesh, the Deputy Country Director of UNDP, Ms. Won Young Hong said that Bangladeshi business communities should learn from the cases of international organizations. She said that if we take the example of Samsung or Hyundai, they are now considered among the biggest global corporate but eventually, they also had to struggle to build them up, address and initiate Corporate Social Responsibility with the core business process and demonstrate the stewardship to be reckoned among the leading business organizations of the world. She also said that the Bangladeshi business houses should endorse themselves with the CSR agenda to be recognized in the global markets and ensure sustainability.
A short presentation was made by Mr. Shafiq R. Bhuiyan, Officer, CSR Resource Mobilization, CSR Centre, on behalf of the Local Network on linking Human Rights issues with the core business strategies.
Among the speakers, Barrister Nihad Kabir presented a paper on CSR and its connectivity with the Human Rights issues. Ms. Kabir talked about the articles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and other prevailing international and local human rights laws and issues that, she said, the business society must be sensitized with. She said, “It is important to create an understanding of how sustainable development has to be informed by adherence to universally accepted human rights norms, disseminate knowledge and information about the applicable international human rights frameworks and their recognition in the national legal framework, and create a frame of reference for corporations to understand their specific rights and duties in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights”.
Dr. Atiq Rahman presented a case, in brief, on how a corporate can be benefited and can save money by being proactive in its human rights and environmental initiatives and gain competitive advantage. Dr. Atiq said that it is true that most of the corporate do not comply with the prevailing laws and code of conducts because of the lack of enforcement, but, he urged, the business society should come forward to address these issues for the sake of their own sustainability.
Ms. Shaheen Anam stated her view on the link between CSR and human rights. She said that in the country we have a well manipulated code and laws regarding human rights, but we fail at the implementation level. If the business society can be sensitized with the positive side of ensuring and supporting human rights, the can come forward to assure its wider implementation in the business activities, she added. She also mentioned that the government should also be proactive in ensuring the proper implementation of the prevailing law and orders.
Mr. David Bergman presented the drawbacks and gaps in Bangladesh Labor Act 2006 and Bangladesh National Building Code 2006. In his presentation, Mr. Bergman highlighted the lacking in the two prevailing codes and acts from the perspective of regulation, legal duties, level awareness, inspection procedures and above all the enforcement.
In the concluding remarks, Ms. Shahamin S. Zaman, Chief Executive Officer of the CSR Centre said that human rights issues should also be addressed by not only the corporates but also by the Civil Society Organizations and NGOs. These organizations should endorse the human rights agenda by being proactive in implementing them in their own organizations. She said that as more number of companies comes to realize their legal, moral and commercial needs to address human rights issues within their own operations and activities, they are confronted with a number of challenges. We should work hand in hand to address the challenges and work accordingly to build a better Bangladesh.
The UNGC signatories, some human rights activists, representatives from private sector took vibrant part in the discussion.