CSR Leaders Appear at Government Inquiry
10 September 2014 at 11:19 am
Representatives of the responsible business movement are giving evidence at the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into the role of the private sector in Australia’s aid program.
A number of individuals and organisations with specialist expertise are to provide evidence at public hearings as part of the inquiry, which received 127 submissions from stakeholders including Not for Profits, business representatives, peak bodies and academics.
The Australian arm of one the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiatives, the UN Global Compact, are among those giving evidence.
Alice Cope, Executive Manager of the UN Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), recently appeared at a hearing to highlight the importance of private sector activities in the Indo-Pacific being rooted in principles such as human rights and labour standards, environmental protection and transparency and anti-corruption.
The GCNA’s submission said that form a “risk perspective,” it was essential that Australian businesses operated in a responsible manner in the region.
The organisation called for greater Government support in building the capacity of Australian businesses to do so.
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is examining the role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo-Pacific region in response to a request by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, in February this year.
The sub-committee will hear from witnesses about opportunities for policy engagement, leveraging capabilities, investment, public-private partnerships, and related risks. Also to be discussed are current constraints and financing models, across sectors such as agriculture/ health, education and infrastructure.
Sub-committee Chair Dr Sharman Stone said there are many experienced and innovative individuals and organisations in Australia who have much to offer in projects and services that stimulate economic development which reduces poverty in our neighbouring Indo-Pacific region.
"A particularly important aspect of the sub-committee's inquiry is to hear from those who already have proven projects, or projects underway. In the face of deeply entrenched poverty, we need to be looking for innovative ways to improve the prospects for businesses and individuals.
"We have long depended on non-government, Not for Profit agencies to partner with Government in delivering aid. Now we need to consider how and what the for-profit commercial sector has been achieving in alleviating poverty," Stone said.
Highlights from the submissions include:
World Vision’s submission included 10 key recommendations. The Not for Profit highlighted the importance of metrics and impact assessment in measuring private sector contributions, the strengthening of cross-sectoral partnerships, the alignment of private sector initiatives with aid strategy and recipient country priorities, and the need for private sector initiatives to incorporate international best-practice requirements for business.
Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals
The BCCM submission argues for enterprise-based rather than welfare solution, arguing that aid focused on enterprise and capacity building has the greatest potential to alleviate poverty and accelerate the development of the private sector in those countries, promoting a sustainable future. The organisation also calls for the Government to develop and strengthen partnerships with the existing co-operative business movement in the Indo-Pacific region.
The ANZ submission asserts the Australian private sector can best contribute in areas of competitive advantage where Australian expertise complements identified needs in partner countries. It is suggested a great proportion of Australian aid should be directed towards improving economic infrastructure to increase economic growth.
Impact Investing Australia
The submission highlights “substantial” opportunity for Australia to leverage international developments in impact investing and gain significantly from engaging in impact investing for international development.
It argues the timing is opportune to work on new and innovative structures for international development given recent developments in the impact investing arena and that engagement would increase economic growth and trade in key regional strategic markets for Australia, increase investment opportunities for the Australian private sector and support long term sustainable development goals.
Read all submissions and access transcripts of the hearings here.