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Corporate responsibility

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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The interface between access and benefit-sharing and biotrade in Namibia: exploring potential areas of synergy

19 Jun 2017 11:38:04 GMT

Legal uncertainty and administrative and regularity burdens are serious impediments to sustainable and responsible biodiversity-based economic activities. With the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation (Nagoya Protocol) an opportunity has arisen for countries to design an access and benefit-sharing (ABS) framework. This can promote the commercialisation of biological resources (biotrade) and provide legal certainty and transparency for the transfer of genetic resources. Although most biotrade businesses follow the core principles of sustainable biodiversity, there is lack of clarity about the application of ABS policy frameworks on biotrade businesses. The Nagoya Protocol aims to clarify key concepts, define the scope of ABS, and stipulate the responsibilities of user and provider countries of genetic resources. As a party to the protocol, Namibia has started developing comprehensive ABS legislation by leveraging its existing administrative and regulatory frameworks.
The challenge for Namibia is to find a mutually supportive interrelation between ABS and biotrade, where the implementation of ABS and the promotion of biotrade can go hand in hand. Experiences in other African countries illustrate that the implementation of ABS frameworks is not without its challenges. In South Africa, broader economic losses and further marginalisation of women and poor communities occurred when ABS regulations were applied to existing biotrade businesses. In order to avoid these kinds of unanticipated consequences, Namibia’s efforts to develop ABS legislation and set up institutional arrangements to support the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol require careful policy consideration. A significant step in the right direction is to understand the interface between biotrade and ABS, especially the positive interaction that should exist between the two, and to have an informed strategy that addresses this complex relationship.
It is the objective of this exploratory study to offer an outline of the national policy context, the ABS development process and salient issues and the connections between biotrade and ABS in the era of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.

Labouring for global markets: CSR lessons from a South Indian textile export cluster, Global Insights Briefing, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex.

02 Jun 2017 04:18:55 GMT

This briefing explores the ways in which Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies affect labour regimes and the lives of workers at manufacturing sites in the Global South. It describes workers’ reactions to these policies, and the choices they make when faced with different regimes of work. The briefing calls for a recognition by labour standard interventions of the variety of employment regimes and the diversity of the workforce, and it addresses some possible ways to improve the particular conditions of women workers and migrant workers employed in large export industries in the Global South. In particular, it points to the importance of addressing workers’ needs and vulnerabilities outside the factories and in the urban neighbourhoods where they reside.

Balancing coal mining and conservation in South-West Ethiopia

28 Mar 2017 11:09:37 GMT

Ethiopia is confronted by the challenges of a growing population and a diminishing natural resources base. The country’s economic growth has relied heavily on agriculture, but progress in this sector has been hampered by the lack of access to agricultural inputs like fertiliser. Ethiopia has devised a range of development strategies for meeting agricultural and energy needs through the extraction of coal resources.

Exploiting the considerable coal deposits found in Ethiopia’s south-western Afromontane forests would produce coal phosphate fertiliser and electricity in the coming decades. However, the forests are sites of exceptional biodiversity. With these conflicting interests in an area of high biodiversity, Ethiopia now faces pressure from competing uses of forestland, forcing the government to identify ecologically and economically feasible approaches to reconcile biodiversity conservation and coal extraction.

Civil society’s role in shaping Zimbabwe’s diamond governance

28 Mar 2017 11:00:01 GMT

Zimbabwe confirmed that alluvial diamonds had been discovered in the Marange area in Mutare District in 2006. However, as in many otherAfrican countries, the promise diamond mining holds for economic growth has been eroded by a lack of transparency and accountability. The country’s diamond sector has been bedevilled by smuggling, opaque licensing, human rights abuses, self-enrichment by executives and public officials, and extremely limited accrual of diamond revenues to the fiscus, among others. Civil society monitoring and lobbying at local, national and international levels has played a critical role in improving the governance of Zimbabwe’s diamond sector.
This briefing highlights the actions civil society has taken to promote transparency and accountability in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector. It concludes that civil society has contributed significantly towards better diamond sector governance in Zimbabwe in the last 10 years. It has also helped to broaden the view of what constitute conflict diamonds among international bodies such as the Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme, the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).

How transparent are think tanks about who funds them 2016?

24 Mar 2017 12:41:10 GMT

Through a survey of 200 think tanks in 47 countries worldwide, Transparify rates the extent to which think tanks publicly disclose through their websites where their funding comes from. The authors visited think tanks’ websites and looked at the funding and donor information disclosed online, including in online annual reports.

Rating and ranking institutions: a ten-step guide for think tanks and advocacy groups

24 Mar 2017 12:34:44 GMT

Ratings and rankings have become a staple output of advocacy groups and think tanks worldwide. This document offers a quick ten-step guide on how to write and achieve maximum impact with ranking reports.

South African banks footprint in SADC mining projects: environmental, social and governance principles

23 Mar 2017 10:58:34 GMT

Environmental,  social  and  governance  (ESG)  concerns  are  an  increasingly  important  factor worldwide for banks when they invest in large projects. In the Southern African region with its rich mineral deposits, this trend has added importance. Mining companies extract minerals from the ground, and their activities routinely give rise to public concerns about the pollution of water sources, adequate land for agriculture, and fair community participation in mining projects. South African law accepts that the directors of corporations such as banks have fiduciary obligations to act in the best interests of shareholders.

Given the importance of mining activity to economies in Southern Africa an important question aligned to this fiduciary duty is this: Are banks when conducting business obliged to act in the best interests of stakeholders affected by the activities of the mining companies they fund? The trite response is that banks have recognised their obligations to communities through their commitment to SRI (socially responsible investment) practices and internal ESG processes that ensure that their funding decisions result in no harm to communities.

This paper sets out to critically consider the effectiveness of ESG principles implemented by South Africa’s banks when they fund mining projects in the SADC region. There are internal differences  in  ESG  principles  between  banks,  and  a  variety  of  funding  methods  to  which  the principles  are  applied. The study evaluates the ESG frameworks used by each bank and, given the significant market share, aggregates this information to present a picture of the effectiveness of  these  frameworks. The approach taken is a critical one, meaning that what is presented in bank annual reports and sustainability reports is not merely accepted, but (to the extent possible) internal ESG risk frameworks are interrogated for adequacy of application by banks when funding mining  projects. The effectiveness of the implementation of internal ESG  procedures  by banks is then measured against available evidence. This evidence includes the effects of mine project  funding  decisions  of  banks  on  ESG  categories  as  ascertained  from  public  information.  

After consideration of the evidence, observations and conclusions are provided on the analysis. In the closing section, recommendations are provided on areas for possible focus to improve the effectiveness of ESG principles used by banks in the SADC region.

Mineral governance barometer - Southern Africa

23 Mar 2017 10:35:35 GMT

Southern Africa is endowed with lucrative mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, copper, coal, platinum, and uranium.  This rich endowment can be a major asset in the quest for inclusive and sustainable development, yet mining in Southern Africa has often been criticised as an enclave sector that at best contributes little to economic development and at worst does substantial social and environmental harm.  To avoid such pitfalls emerging international consensus emphasises the importance of good mineral governance. This involves the adoption and implementation of regulatory frameworks that promote deeper linkages between the mining sector and the broader economy, and that protect people and the environment from the potentially harmful consequences of mineral extraction.

This pilot study provides a barometer of mineral governance in ten Southern African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, South  Africa,  Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The barometer takes stock of mining regulations in place at the end of 2015, the extent to which they are implemented, and features of supporting institutions.  It is based on the observation that while regulations impose obligations on mining companies, in doing so they directly impose obligations on the state to monitor and enforce compliance, and they also indirectly impose obligations for citizens and civil society to hold the state and mining companies accountable.  The barometer includes indicators of mineral governance  across  four  main  issue-areas:  national  economic  and  fiscal  linkages;  community  impact; labour, and the environment, with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) treated as a special topic.  The barometer also includes indicators of state capacity and state accountability with respect to mineral governance.

Climate impacts on agriculture and tourism: the case for climate resilient investment in the Caribbean

21 Feb 2017 04:30:44 GMT

For the Caribbean, climate change is not tomorrow’s problem. The threats it poses are neither distant nor abstract – they are already apparent. In recent years, hurricanes have caused major damage in countries such as Jamaica, Grenada and Cuba; severe flooding has hit Belize and Guyana; and droughts affect much of the east of the region.
The small island state of Saint Lucia alone has faced 27 natural disasters between 1980 and 2008, with total economic damage  reaching an estimated US$2.5 billion. The need for investment to build climate resilience in the Caribbean has never been greater.
Key messages:
  • climate variability and change are already having severe impacts on key sectors including agriculture and tourism
  • these impacts are reversing economic growth, exacerbating poverty and undermining the future prosperity of Caribbean countries
  • CDKN research has provided locally appropriate climate change projections that give fresh insight into the vulnerability of key sectors
  • adaptation investment in the agriculture sector is needed to account for projected changes in rainfall and growing seasons, and
    occurrence of extreme events, especially drought
  • adaptation investment in the tourism sector is also needed to build resilience to rising seas, bleached coral reefs, water scarcity and gradual temperature increase
  • there are many potential adaptation measures that can be applied by governments, businesses, individuals and development
  • financial support is needed to support adaptation action as high up-front costs are a barrier to local adaptation efforts
  • effectively prioritising adaptation options can maximise their value and lead to positive co-benefits for individuals, businesses and society

Corporate social responsibility and political settlements in the mining sector in Ghana, Zambia and Peru

17 Feb 2017 04:43:45 GMT

This paper explores and compares the political effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the mining sector in Zambia, Ghana and Peru. The paper adopts a political settlements approach to answer the question: How do the CSR practices of mining companies affect local and national political settlements? After setting out the main tenets of the political settlements approach, this is articulated with literature on the politics of natural resource extraction and CSR. The paper then sets the wider context of the international drivers of increased attention to CSR in the extractive sector, before exploring the impact of the CSR practices of mining companies on the political settlement in Ghana, Peru and Zambia at the national and local levels. The final sections offer a comparative discussion of what the findingsmean for understanding CSR’s role in inclusive development and natural resource
The paper argues that recent increased CSR expenditure does not necessarily translate into development for those living near mining companies, particularly in contexts of exclusionary political settlements, of which all case studies exhibited characteristics. There are a great many institutional and contextual limitations placed on the ability of CSR to deliver development for affected communities. Across the case studies, the opportunities that CSR programmes afford tended to aimed at those with the greatest capacity to disrupt operations, rather than those with the greatest need. In concluding, I argue that, despite some obvious limitations, the political settlements approach can generate new insights through its focus on the politics of development, and, in particular, the politics of stability.

Child labor in Myanmar’s garment sector challenges and recommendations

10 Feb 2017 03:03:21 GMT

Buyers and investors are back in Yangon looking for opportunities, attracted in part by the country’s low labour costs. However, Myanmar has spent over a decade cut off from Western markets and the compliance culture that has evolved around social and environmental management of supply chains.

Meeting buyer expectations now requires not only investing to meet higher requirements for speed and quality, but also ensuring that labor practices meet or exceed international standards.

Child labour is a particular area of concern. In a country with high levels of poverty, low rates of secondary school enrollment, and weak enforcement of labour laws, child labour is unsurprisingly a common option for families in need of additional income. Underage workers (younger than 14, the legal minimum) are prevalent in many sectors, ranging from construction to teashops.
This report explains the context of child labour in Myanmar, both across sectors and specifically for garment manufacturing.
Findings include:
  • young workers are participating in the garment sector but usually make up a small percentage of a factory’s workforce, and underage workers are rare. However, young workers are often working the same hours as adults, and laws regulating their working hours and conditions are not being enforced
  • increased access to U.S. and European markets is reshapin g the garment industry, but the majority of factories are not yet selling to U.S. and European buyers, and their labour practices are lagging

Key recommendations:

To prevent and remediate child labour, buyers and investors should support the establishment of a protective framework. This will require consistent and sustained action by diverse stakeholders, including:
  • enacting clear and coherent laws and regulations
  • fostering cultural norms that prioritize education for children until the legal minimum working age
  • ensuring livelihoods for adults that can support the entire household
  • implementing a system of monitoring and enforcement that includes workers, management, inspectors, unions, and community members

Can workplace secondments build trust in the mining sector?

02 Feb 2017 10:06:00 GMT

Mutual suspicion has characterised the relationship between the South African government and mining companies, particularly in recent years. Resolving the current impasse would require a panoply of policy interventions because of the complexity and age of the mining industry. This briefing proposes that one such intervention could be the introduction of a structured workplace secondment programme between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and mining companies – together identifying critical areas for co-operation and skills transfer. A well-managed and properly resourced secondment programme offers the potential to deepen understanding, share expertise, improve trust and ultimately facilitate a more functional and productive sector. Secondments carry their own risks, but these can be mitigated through rigorous design, and are far outweighed by the risk of doing nothing to alter the status quo.
  • The Department of Mineral Resources should take the lead in establishing a long-term partnership with the private sector for an ongoing workplace secondment programme for public servants into mining companies
  • the programme should be assigned sufficient human and financial resources to succeed. It should be co-designed by the government and the private sector; target mutually agreed critical areas for building expertise; and be co-funded by the state and the private sector
  • rigorous upfront design and consultation should be undertaken to mitigate risks and ensure a coherent and tightly managed process, right through to the secondees’ return to their workplace

New developments in Social Investing by public pensions

29 Nov 2016 10:02:32 GMT

Social investing is the pursuit of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals through investment decisions. Public pension funds have been active in this arena since the 1970s, when many divested from apartheid South Africa. They have also aimed to achieve domestic goals, such as promoting union workers, economic development, and homeownership.

In the mid-2000s, the focus shifted to preventing terrorism and gun violence. This effort included “terror-free” investing in response to the Darfur genocide and to weapons proliferation in Iran. And, after mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT, some public funds shed their holdings in gun manufacturers. Most recently, states have renewed the call to divest from Iran and have increasingly targeted fossil fuels to combat climate change.

This brief provides an update of social investing developments and assesses whether, in this changing environment, public funds should engage in this practice. This assessment addresses two questions:

  • can ESG-screened portfolios meet the same return/risk objectives as non-screened portfolios; and
  • are public plans the right vehicle for advancing ESG goals?

The discussion proceeds as follows. The first section explores trends in social investing and the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidance on this activity. The second section examines recent state divestment efforts. The third section analyzes the economics of social investing. The fourth section outlines the economic, political, and legal complications. The final section concludes that although social investing may be worthwhile for private investors, lower returns and fiduciary concerns make public pension funds unsuited for advancing ESG goals.

Re-thinking the application of sustainable use policies for African elephants in a changed world

20 Sep 2016 10:56:15 GMT

Despite increasing calls to recognise the intrinsic value of biodiversity, the need to incentivise people to choose conservation as a competitive form of land use through a sustainable use (SU) approach remains the de facto and de jure reality across most of africa today. In a 'second-best' world of corruption and poor governance, consumptive use (CU) policies (eg, ivory trading, trophy hunting, culling) have produced mixed results for elephant and ecosystem conservation, and for human development. The partial ban on ivory trade globally has led to confusion among african policymakers, local and international law enforcement agencies, and ivory consumers. This is causing a perfect storm of increased poaching to meet the increased (speculative?) demand for raw ivory, without the potential solutions from implementing either a controlled legal trade or a permanent global ban. New realities are emerging, namely the closure of the main consumer ivory markets; the poor prospects for further international trade approvals under CITEs; concerns that the biologically constrained supply may not be able to meet uncertain demand under a legal trade scenario; and the questioning of the conservation and community benefits of trophy hunting. african policymakers need to adapt their application of SU policy by:

  • supporting a permanent global ivory trade ban and destroying ivory stockpiles
  • properly implementing stated SU policies to channel promised benefits to legitimate beneficiaries and address elephant over-abundance
  • improving the governance of trophy hunting as a stopgap land-use activity in communal areas, but banning hunting if it undermines ivory consumer demand reduction
  • promoting photographic tourism to expand its potential benefits to marginal areas; and
  • improving the capacity of national wildlife agencies or soliciting support from publc-private protected area management organisations

These adaptions increase the net costs of incentivising community beneficiaries and law enforcement, shifting the burden to african governments. Therefore, if the non-african governments and special interest groups imposing the ivory trade, culling and trophy-hunting restrictions do not support them, they will be complicit in the permanent loss of vast areas of elephant ecosystems. Ultimately, an efficient, global biodiversity tax is required to fund these adaptions, in order to maintain the ecosystem services and/or intrinsic value of African ecosystems for all of humanity.

The impact of institutional blockholders on voluntary disclosure and transparency: the case of Egypt

18 Aug 2016 02:09:52 GMT

Disclosure and transparency are crucial elements in the improve ment of overall corporate governance. Disclosure is a very important mean of communicati on between management and outside investors. This study investigates how institutional blockholders impact levels of voluntary disclosure released in annual reports of some of the most active companies in the Egyptian Stock Exchange. The results generated by the study di d support a significant positive impact of institutional blockholders on voluntary disclosure an d transparency. It also found that this impact is due to two types of institutional blockholders'€™ ownership: low institutional ownership defined as those owning from five to twenty percent and controlling institutions defined as those owning more than fifty percent of a company'€™s shares. This indicates that concentrated ownership can be vi ewed as a monitoring mechanism in an emerging market like Egypt. According to the author€™s' knowledge, this study is the first to explore the impact of different categories of blockholders; categorized by the size o f their block; on levels of voluntary disclosure in Egypt.

Transparency in corporate reporting: assessing emerging market multinationals

12 Jul 2016 10:38:52 GMT

This report evaluates the disclosure practices of 100 major emerging market multinationals headquartered in 15 countries and active in 185 countries. The report is part of a series on corporate reporting published by Transparency International since 2008. Initially focused on
the world’s top multinationals, the series was expanded to include a first report on emerging market multinationals in 2013.

To enhance comparability, the company sample for this report is primarily based on the 2013 edition of the Transparency in Corporate Reporting: Assessing Emerging Market Multinationals report. This report assesses the public disclosure practices of emerging market multinationals based on three dimensions: first, the reporting of key elements of their anti-corruption programmes; second, the disclosure of their company structures and holdings; and, third, the disclosure of key financial information on a country-b-ycountry basis. This information was gathered from corporate websites and other publicly available sources by a team of Transparency International researchers.

Despite some scattered signs of improvement since 2013, the overall results of the assessed companies remain weak, a clear indication that emerging market multinationals still practise low standards of transparency.

The overall average score for the 100 companies assessed in this report is 3.4 out of 10, a slightly weaker performance than in 2013 but almost on a par with the 3.8 overall score obtained in our 2014 report assessing
the world’s 124 largest multinationals. It is disconcerting to observe that emerging market multinationals, with an average score of 48 per cent, have barely registered improvement in the disclosure of their anti-corruption programmes since 2013, when their average score was 46 per cent. Once again, they trail behind the top global publicly listed companies assessed in 2014.

Overall index result:

  • emerging market multinationals continue to fall short of the corporate transparency standards that are expected of multinationals operating internationally
  • publicly listed companies perform better in all dimensions than state-owned enterprises and privately held companies
  • country-by-country reporting remains the weakest result for a majority of emerging market multinationals
  • The performance of Chinese companies continues to be disappointing overall, but there are a few notable exceptions, particularly with regard to the disclosure of anti-corruption programmes
  • Chinese entities have different standards of disclosure: levels of transparency for China-based state-owned parent companies are lower than those adopted for their publicly-listed foreign subsidiaries and associated entities

Making a killing: a 2011 survey of ivory markets in China

16 Jun 2016 01:23:07 GMT

An unprecedented surge in ivory seizures occurred in 2011. Media reported that 5,259 elephant tusks were seized worldwide in that year alone, representing the lives of at least 2,629 elephants. In spite of the government’s efforts to regulate the ivory trade, China continues to be the world’s main recipient of smuggled ivory.

In 2004 China introduced an ivory product registration and certification system to control the domestic ivory market and to meet the conditions required by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the purchase of stockpiled ivory from some African countries. In July 2008, the CITES Standing Committee approved of China as a trading partner for the second so-called “one-off ” sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
This survey was conducted two and half years after the 62 tonnes of ivory China bought at the CITES-approved sale were officially imported in March 2009. The survey was conducted by local experts who both visited physical markets and monitored online marketplaces. The physical market visits were conducted in September and October 2011 in five cities along the eastern seaboard of China. Online marketplaces were monitored for one week in January 2012.
In general, the survey found widespread abuse of the ivory trade control system. It became clear that illegal ivory, once smuggled to the country can be laundered freely through the legal market. The legal trade is
sustaining and perpetuating a rising demand for elephant ivory.

Land, biodiversity and extractive industries in southern Africa: How effective are legal and institutional frameworks in protecting people and the environment?

27 May 2016 03:17:10 GMT

In the natural resources sector, laws are often formulated to regulate the relationship between men and the environment. Ideally, the law can play a vital role in regulating and protecting communities from adverse environmental and social impacts of mining, loss of land, biodiversity and natural wealth, as well as other human rights violations. Almost all countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have developed laws and institutions to regulate and monitor the extraction of mineral resources and their impact on the environment and people. However, the level of implementation and enforcement of those laws varies across the region and in some cases legal gaps exist.

In light of this, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) commissioned research in three SADC countries – Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe – to assess the effectiveness of exiting legal and institutional frameworks governing land, social and environmental accountability in the extractive sector.

This policy brief analyses the findings of the three reports and identifies current legal and institutional frameworks in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana that seek to protect land, biodiversity and communities from the adverse impacts of mining. It highlights good practices while also capturing crosscutting weaknesses and gaps in the legal frameworks. The policy brief also analyses the institutional capacities of responsible government departments, whose legal mandate is to monitor and hold mining companies accountable, and looks at the domestication and application of regional and international instruments. More importantly, the efficacy of voluntary practices and standards adopted by mining companies and financial institutions to promote social and environmental accountability in the extractive sector is also assessed.

Chinese businesses in Africa: perspectives on corporate social responsibility and the role of Chinese government policies

07 Apr 2016 03:19:31 GMT

China’s business engagement in developing countries has grown rapidly in the past decade through direct investment, contract projects and trade. China was the third-largest foreign investor in the world between 2012 and 2014, and approximately 80% of its investments flowed to developing countries in 2014. Chinese companies are also eagerly bidding for - and winning - contracts for infrastructure and service projects at an unprecedented rate, particularly in developing countries. For example, 80% of newly signed and completed projects undertaken by Chinese companies in 2014 were located in Asia and Africa.

This discussion paper research aims to understand the role that Chinese policies and guidelines play in governing Chinese companies overseas, through exploring the experiences and perceptions of representatives in those companies. The paper presents the key findings of fieldwork in Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda during August–September 2015, including a survey and interviews with fifty-eight Chinese personnel working for Chinese companies in these locations. Findings revealed a complex governance matrix influencing the environmental and social performance of Chinese companies in Africa, in which Chinese policies play only a relatively minor role.

Avoiding the resource curse in Lebanon

07 Apr 2016 02:27:03 GMT

The discovery and extraction of oil and gas off the shores of Lebanon could ultimately translate into a boom in revenues for the government, which in light of current poor fiscal planning could lead to an uncontrolled expansionary budget policy and eventually a ‘resource curse’. If these revenues are spent with no oversight and proper planning, the country m ay well collect and allocate large streams of cash that make limited contributions to economic development. But the ‘resource curse’ could be avoided if appropriate policy adjustments are implemented in conjunction with the development of offshore hydrocarbon resources.

The successful experiences of a few resource-rich countries like Norway have been largely attributed to properly managing resource wealth and its associated risks. The optimal response that takes advantage of the boom while mitigating its potential negative implications includes a set of fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, and structural reform policies.

As Lebanon stands poised to establish its oil and gas sector and possibly profit from new resource wealth, it has become increasingly critical for this small economy to implement public policies that take advantage of the oil boom while mitigating its potential negative implications. This typically includes a set of fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, and structural reform policies which are required to avoid the resource curse.

Indeed, the government must resist pressures to enjoy all the windfall revenues in the short run and recklessly expand its budget expenditure. On the contrary, it must commit to saving part of the revenue proceeds every period in order to attain a permanent wealth increase. Ideally, the government must direct its spending toward the non-resource tradables sector through subsidizing outputs and/or inputs or investing in physical and human capital to enhance productivity in these sectors. In this case, a budget expansion would not necessarily lead to shrinkage of the productive sectors. It is clear, however, that proper public financial management is central to the above macroeconomic policy framework. Key to the above analysis and recommendations is the political economy and institutional setup, especially the role and proper functioning of fiscal institutions. Increasing accountability and transparency in public institutions is essential, and this ultimately requires political reforms that increase the commitment and engagement of citizens in the actions of their government, through proper electoral representation.

This document contains both the English and Arabic language versions.

Under sea pipedreams and India energy security

31 Mar 2016 10:41:24 GMT

Iran’s game-changing nuclear deal with the West and imminent ending of the US-led sanctions open a window of opportunity for deeper Indo-Iranian relations. On the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Ufa in July 2015, Iran’s President asked Indian Prime Minister (PM) to invest in infrastructure projects worth US$ 8 billion, including developing the strategic port of Chabahar that is India’s gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan. Reconfiguring a pipeline project to transport Iranian and Turki gas to India is also an idea whose time has perhaps come.

ndia’s big challenge is that its economic interest in the deep-sea pipeline may not necessarily be in convergence with the political and strategic objectives of Iran. 23 Does India have the same role as earlier when Iran sought it out as a strategic partner to counter the US pressure? India may explore for offers for investing in Iran. A post- sanctions Iran has several options for its oil and gas, including supplying gas to Europe through its pipeline to Turkey. India must move fast on the deep-sea pipeline project.

A perfect storm: migrancy and mining in the North West province

21 Mar 2016 03:26:36 GMT

The platinum industry was severely affected by prolonged strikes in 2012 and 2014 , which lasted for months. Near Marikana in the North West Province of South Africa on 16 August 2015, police fired on strikers, killing 34 miners in the worst massacre since the transition to democracy in 1994. In both strikes, the miners and their families endured real hardship as they went months without pay.

The strikes could not be attributed simply to unusually low wages by national standards, although South African miners earned far less than their equals in Australia, the US and other industrialised economies. Yet virtually no other industry saw workplace conflict of the bitterness experienced on the platinum mines. Moreover, the other major employers within mining, mostly in gold and coal, also did not experience similarly prolonged and rancorous strikes.

It follows that stresses other than pay alone must be explored to explain the intensity of workplace conflict on the platinum mines.

In engagements led by the Presidency in 2012 and 2014, both employer and union representatives used the concept of migrant labour to capture the interaction between living and working conditions that caused unusual stress for miners in South Africa .

  • they argued that circular migrant labour to the mines meant that:
  • the miners suffered from stressful living and community conditions
  • miners faced higher financial burdens because they provided for their families in labour - sending areas through remittances; and migrant labour was associated with a tradition of oppressive workplace relations and profound inequalities in returns from the mines, with an unusually large social and pay gap between workers and supervisors as well as a relatively low share of total value added going to labour

Recommendations: In this context, a first step would be to agree on what would constitute a decent workplace. Key elements include not only more equitable payscales, but also recognition for seniority and access to promotions, improved accountability from supervisors and management toward workers, greater equity and security for con tracted workers, and equal workplace facilities and social interaction between supervisors and workers. Such an agreement should make it easier to identify the practical interventions to transform the work organisation and supervision systems inherited fro m apartheid. Finally, the experience of the platinum belt underscore d the need for a better understanding of how the artificial geography of apartheid wa s being gradually transformed. Even with realistic interventions to improve production and employment, the former “homeland” regions could not conceivably support their 2015 populations. By extension, migration to economic centres was set to continue for the foreseeable future. In this context, it was important both to develop a more specific and realistic assessment of where economic opportunities could be created in historic labour - sending regions, and to analyse how the out - migration would affect human settlements and job needs in the rest of the country.



Issues in labour market inequality and women’s participation in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme

19 Mar 2016 02:58:10 GMT

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGP or NREGP), functions as an income supplement for poor households by providing 100 days of work to a rural household, with 33 per cent of all workdays reserved for women workers. The stated objectives of the programme are to enhance livelihood security while producing durable assets, empowering women, reducing distress migration and promoting social equity. 

The focus of this paper is to investigate women’s participation in the NREGP and analyse the potential impact of the programme in the medium term on women’s access to wage work and wages of women workers in rural India, using available national and state level data. In relation to the findings, the paper provides a range of insights into how the NREGP can potentially be beneficial for women workers by increasing their participation in wage work, by increasing their actual wages, and by enhancing their voice. In addition, the report explores the evidence on poverty and concludes with some observations on gender inequality and labour market institutions. 

Adapted from authors’ summary.

Occupational health and safety and the poorest

19 Mar 2016 02:51:44 GMT

This report addresses the role of employment in efforts to reduce poverty in the context of increased globalisation and its impacts on labour markets. Worldwide, countries are experiencing a decline of jobs with secure and lasting contracts and work-related social benefits. As a consequence, for many, employment fails to provide the opportunity to escape poverty and even contributes to vulnerability. While the importance of employment for poverty reduction is gaining recognition in development agencies, less attention has been given to occupationally related injury and illness as a major source of worker vulnerability. This study investigates the impact of occupational injury and illness on poverty and uses three case studies to explore possible interventions to reduce these work-related risks in capacity constrained environments. 

The report considers conceptual and measurement issues in establishing the relationship between work-related health risks and poverty and reviews the mainstream regulatory mechanisms for occupational health and safety (OHS). The report identifies these mechanisms’ failure to adapt to the changing nature of work and worker vulnerability as a major limitation, and presents case studies of interventions to improve OHS for informal workers. This leads to a range of lessons and recommendations and a call for improving quantitative and qualitative data about OHS and the informal economy. 

Adapted from authors' summary.

The informal economy and decent work: a policy resource guide supporting transitions to formality

19 Mar 2016 02:42:09 GMT

This is a policy resource guide developed to build the capacities of ILO constituents in approaches that facilitate transitions to formality. Previous work has shown that the move out of informality requires approaches that are targeted, comprehensive and inter-disciplinary. Country experience shows that policies that are ad-hoc, piece-meal and in isolation from each other rarely have a sustained impact. The objective of this tool is thus to bring together a range of technical fields in order to enable an integrated policy approach. 

The Guide brings together selected examples both from within the ILO and from external sources; it highlights conceptual issues and practical experience in a range of technical fields, including ‘organisation, representation and dialogue’, ‘promoting equality and addressing discrimination’ and ‘entrepreneurship, skills development and finance’. The brief also provides a review of good practices and innovative approaches from different regions, and assesses lessons learned. Additionally, there is a section that provides a list of resources, which can be used to shape more effective strategies. 

Adapted from available summary.

Exchange is no change

18 Mar 2016 02:43:46 GMT

With the continuing and seemingly unabated increase in the prices of oil and oil products, the clamor for government to do something to alleviate the situation has escalated. Amidst this clamor, the proposal to create a National Oil Exchange has sprung forward.

The authors argues that it seems to have been forgotten that the market has not always been regulated. For many years before martial law and the first oil crisis in the 1970s, the industry was a relatively free one with as much as four refiners and six marketing companies. The country apparently got along well with such a set-up. Ironically, the years of regulation and control since then have left us with the highly concentrated oligopolistic market structure for the industry, i.e., few players with large market shares. It is very difficult to deconstruct that and return to a more competitive market overnight. We need to be realistic and patient and give the oil deregulation law enough time to take effect.

Mercury pollution due to small-scale gold mining: a serious menace

18 Mar 2016 02:01:19 GMT

Notwithstanding its being economically important, however, small-scale gold mining has been the subject of strong opposition in recent years due to its adverse environmental and social side effects. Foremost is the mercury pollution brought about by the practice of amalgamation in gold processing.

Small-scale mining is a refuge of last resort to an increasing number of people because of economic necessity. Despite mercury pollution, therefore, it is here to stay. While it is a real menace, mercury pollution in smallscale mining is not irreversible. The government can do a lot to make it more health- and environment-friendly. Some of the needed actions are presented here but just like in many other aspects of governance, strong political will and moral leadership are needed to transform them into reality.

Oil price increase: can something be done to minimize its effects?

18 Mar 2016 01:37:39 GMT

Using a computable general equilibrium model of the Philippine economy, it is observed that the impact of an oil price change is negative. It is negative not only in terms of economic growth, but also in terms of income inequality and welfare.

Can the effect be lessened? The paper argues that there may still be one way of lessening its negative effect. Using the criteria of growth, welfare and government budget, tariff rate on imported oil may be reduced to lessen, but not totally eliminate, the adverse effect. Simulations results using the model indicate that the government realizes some “windfall profit” out of the increase in the world price of oil and the depreciation of the exchange. One policy option that may be open is for the government to use this so as lessen the burden of the oil price increase. There is one caveat, though, which may be n oted. This is a policy implication derived from simulation exercise using PCGEM with all other things held constant, except for the variables analysed. There may be other equally important concerns like the increase in foreign debt servicing as a result of the depreciation of the exchange which may also be put into consideration.

Rethinking the consultation-conflict link: lessons from Bolivia’s gas sector

17 Mar 2016 11:10:52 GMT

This paper shows that consultations do not only appease conflicts, but also exacerbate them as these procedures are used to negotiate broader grievances. The author further argues that narrow consultations (like those carried out in Bolivia) – rather than comprehensive ones – repress conflicts in the short term by limiting opportunities to mobilize against extractive projects. It also reveals that the degree of conflict and prevention potential of consultations varied according to the affected groups and highlights the ambiguous effects of the entanglement of consultations and compensations.

Contestations over indigenous participation in Bolivia’s extractive industry: ideology, practices, and legal norms

17 Mar 2016 10:49:38 GMT

The participatory rights of indigenous peoples have been at the center of conflicts over resource extraction, which have recently increased in number and intensity across Latin America. Using comprehensive empirical data about the Guaraníes’ participation in Bolivia’s gas sector, this study finds that competing claims regarding territory, property, participation, and decision making provide important explanations for contestations over consultation practices and legal norms in the country.

It argues that the main conflicts can be explained by:

  • the Bolivian state’s focus on directly affected communities and those with formally recognized land titles, something that clashes with the Guaraníes’ principle of “territorial integrity”
  • the state’s conviction that it holds a monopoly over subsoil resources, and the limited rights to participation that it is willing to grant as a consequence, which the Guaraníes reject; and
  • the dissonance between state customs and regulations and Guaraní uses and customs


Smallholders at risk: monoculture expansion, land, food and livelihoods in Latin America

17 Mar 2016 10:36:29 GMT

Greater investment in agriculture is needed to reduce rural poverty and improve food security; but how investment is made, its context and conditions, is at least as important as how much is invested.

Case studies of large-scale agricultural investment in Paraguay, Guatemala and Colombia show how monoculture expansion is displacing communities, undermining smallholder livelihoods and worsening local food security. Even when companies say they operate responsibly, their business model determines who bears the risks, who has access to capital and where market power lies. Responsibility should mean benefits and costs are fairly distributed and all rights upheld, including land rights. Private agricultural investment is needed, but it should complement rather than undermine smallholders, who are the main investors in agriculture.


Spotlight on publications: extractive industries and conflict management

16 Mar 2016 02:43:05 GMT

Extractive industry investment in Latin America has increased considerably since the early 1990s, especially in the last decade. Expansion of extractive activities into new territory has led to new rounds of conflict and contestation in the region, including over resource use and control, territorial occupation, relationships between existing rural livelihoods, and extractive investment and conservation versus extraction. The publications presented below represent some of the key resources dealing with a variety of issues related to extractive industries and conflict management in Latin America.

In particular, they focus on: Consultation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent; Rent Distribution; Gender; Indigenous Issues; and Social Movements; Country Case Studiesaddressing these themes in a cross-cutting way, as well as Practical Implementation Guides are also included.

Spotlight on publications: extractive industries and land use

16 Mar 2016 02:39:29 GMT

Questions about land use are inextricably related to decisions about where and how to engage in extractive industry activities. Latin American countries have dealt with a range of land-related challenges, from land use planning and consent for securing access to land, to special considerations for indigenous peoples and environmental conservation, all of which have important implications for governments and local communities. This selection highlights some of the key publications dealing with issues of extractive industries and land use in Latin America

Spotlight on publications: extractive industry investment policies

16 Mar 2016 02:35:59 GMT

Many Latin American countries are rich with natural resources like oil, gas and minerals, and they have a wealth of experience to share in terms of the investment policies they have pursued to develop their extractive industries.

This selection of publications highlights key resources documenting and analysing the following aspects of the Latin American investment policy experience: Gas Sector, Oil Sector, Mining Sector, Choice of Policy Model, and Rents, Taxes and Royalties.

Spotlight on publications: labour market policies in Latin America

16 Mar 2016 02:14:16 GMT

The publications presented in this Spotlight represent some of the key resources dealing with issues related to labour market policies in Latin America. The selected publications focus on the following topics: Gender and Labour; Impact Evaluations; Labour Intermediation Services; Active and Passive Labour Market Policies and Programmes; and Labour Market Regulations and Development.

Does trade lead to a race to the bottom in environmental standards? Another look at the issues

14 Mar 2016 10:53:53 GMT

With rising globalisation and advances in technology, the interrelationship between trade and the environment has increasingly become a pressing issue across the globe. This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion, mainly by looking at some theoretical underpinnings, learning from some findings in the literature and offering additional empirical evidence in relation to what is happening in the globalized world. For example, is there evidence that international trade encourages a "race to the bottom" in environmental regulations? Are developing countries more likely to export polluting products? On the other hand, are calls for environmental protection no more than disguised protectionism? What is the state of the global/multilateral regime dealing with trade and environment?

Accordingly, the paper looks at some theoretical underpinnings and findings on trade and environment linkage. This is followed by a discussion on the current trade structure of products by pollution-intensity classification between developed and developing countries. The paper also contains two sections dealing respectively with some observations on environmental regulations and the treatment of environment in the multilateral agenda. Finally, the paper concludes by highlighting the need to pursue trade and environment policies in tandem.

Mexico: a moment of opportunity, increasing transparency and accountability in the extractive industries

10 Mar 2016 10:41:27 GMT

Mexico’s oil and mining sectors are highly significant sources of economic development for the country with profound impact on the daily lives of the nation’s people. It is therefore crucial to have timely, comprehensive information that allows citizens to hold the government and companies accountable.

Mexico’s extractive industry plays a significant role both domestically and internationally. The oil and mining sectors have accounted for an average of about 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the past decade. Oil revenue represents a third of public sector income, and 25 percent of the country is currently being exploited or explored by private mining companies. Mexico contributes approximately 2.4 percent of total world mining production. Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the country’s major state-owned oil company, ranks fourth globally in oil production.

During the past 10 years, Mexico has undertaken several reforms that have allowed it to increase transparency and accountability in the extractive industries. However, there is room for improvement, especially in the mining sector, which is being developed by private companies.

Comprehensive, timely and detailed information about the country’s oil and mining industries is a fundamental factor in holding companies and the government accountable. This document proposes several strategies to strengthen and create transparency and accountability mechanisms in oil and mining, and it identifies specific opportunities and possible champions to promote them.

The first is to advocate for the inclusion of transparency in the mining sector and the adoption of the Extraction Industries Transparency Intiative (EITI) into the Mexican government’s commitments to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The second is to advocate broadening the spectrum of the discussion about transparency in extractive industries during the G20 meeting.

An opportunity exists to promote a transparency agenda among civil society organizations (CSOs). Due to the complexity of Mexico’s extractive sectors, collaboration between CSOs interested in reform will be critical. One important way to improve their effectiveness would be to create a coalition of CSOs with diverse agendas, structured in such a way as to encourage collaboration and contributions from each according to their expertise.

No Man’s Lands? Extractive activity, territory, and scial unrest in the Peruvian Amazon: the Cenepa river

10 Mar 2016 03:30:21 GMT

This case study shows how the activities of a large foreign-invested mining company on land held by the Awajun community in the northern forests of Peru have led to a characteristic cycle of state permissiveness in granting mining concessions, thus leading to social conflict.

It describes encounters between the company and the indigenous community who, though lacking land title, have protected their rights by demanding that their territory be declared a national park. It analyses Peru’s legal and institutional frameworks, and shows how successive governments have deemed the Amazon an "empty" territory to be exploited in order to bring "progress". It documents the emergence of this particular conflict, which has gradually escalated in severity, and argues that the temporary equilibrium that currently exists can only be sustained if all the actors involved recognise the common ownership of the lands in question.

Direct distribution of oil revenues in Venezuela: a viable alternative?

10 Mar 2016 03:00:09 GMT

Venezuela is the textbook case of a resource-rich country. Between 1950 and 2008, oil generated over $1 trillion of income for the state. The country’s proven reserves, at 7 million barrels per Venezuelan, are the largest in the world and will last 270 years at current production rates.

Such natural wealth, though, may not be a good thing. Countries with rich natural resources, especially oil, often suffer from high poverty, frequent conflict, bad governance, and endemic corruption. Governments that can rely on natural resources do not need to tax their citizens. In turn, citizens do not expect or demand public services, clean government, or even basic accountability.

This paper asks whether the direct and automatic distribution of oil rents to citizens is a viable option in Venezuela. Government accountability there has weakened as oil revenues have been diverted more and more to toward discretionary spending channels. Would direct distribution improve accountability? What do citizens think about the approach? The authors confront these questions, focusing on the fiscal contract between citizens and their government.

Brazil: no easy miracle increasing transparency and accountability in the extractive industries

10 Mar 2016 02:24:12 GMT

Brazil’s consolidation as an emerging economy is not easily attributed to any political or economic miracle. Brazil has consciously adapted a large part of its commercial and financial strategy to changes in the global arena. As worldwide demand has grown for raw materials—especially for single-crop agriculture, oil and minerals—Brazil’s growing economy has become increasingly dependent on the export of commodities. Mining and oil activities in Brazil are growing fast. Brazil is currently a major global player in the extractive industries, especially through Vale in mining and Petrobras in oil and gas. Rapid changes at the national level have not been accompanied by equally rapid policy developments to ensure access to public information, which would permit greater control over common resources and goods by the active global citizenry. New legislation for the mining and oil industries is being passed with little or no debate by Brazilian society. As major companies such as Vale and Petrobras have strengthened Brazil’s position as one of the world’s leading oil and mineral exporters, there has been no forum for debate on the implications of this trend for health, environment, marine flora and fauna, employment, or impacts on life in affected communities. A debate on transparency and accountability is urgently needed in Brazil, together with the ability to imagine a different society, one that avoids the exclusion, marginalization and destruction of communities and nature. Fortunately, there is an enormous network of social and political actors working on the issue: universities, NGOs, social movements and even agencies and institutes of government ministries. There is also a clear geographic focus for advocacy work: because Rio de Janeiro State and certain Amazonian states (Pará) have the largest volumes of oil and gas extraction, together they form a strategic area for work on extractive industries in Brazil. A strategy to increase transparency and accountability in Brazil’s extractive sector could begin with Petrobras and an international consortium of NGOs implementing the ISO 26000 international standard for social responsibility. This standard, together with the Social Balance Sheet developed by the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses, could serve as the foundation for a binding law for the entire extractive industry. Brazil would benefit from the creation of a multi-stakeholder group that included civil society and corporations that could produce national reports on the extractive industries and social responsibility. Civil society initiatives should be strengthened, especially by forming common networks that can contribute to the creation of an overall strategic vision, both within Brazil and internationally—especially in connection with Africa and Latin America. It would be useful to promote a political entity through which the Brazilian government could formulate transparency and accountability poli[...]

Local Content Frameworks in Latin American and African oil and gas sector

09 Mar 2016 10:55:16 GMT

The limited nature of mineral resources and demands of the extractive sector require policymakers to find mechanisms to maximise the sector’s benefits. One potential mechanism to achieve this is so-called ‘local content’ which refers to the actions a country can adopt to increase benefits from the extractive sector through the promotion of local employment, skills development, and national industry participation.

The promotion of local content has become a matter of increasing interest and debate in Africa and Latin America. Despite this, local content experiences from both regions are scattered and outcomes are undocumented. In order to inform the debate and provide policymakers with evidence to decide whether local content is the best policy option, this study seeks to map local content frameworks in Latin America and Africa and analyse possible outcomes.

Global boom, local impacts: mining revenues and subnational outcomes in Peru 2007-2011

09 Mar 2016 01:21:59 GMT

The relationship between the abundance of natural resources and socio-economic performance has been a main object of study in the economic development field since Adam Smith. Dominated by the verification of the so called curse of natural resource, the mainstream literature on the topic has been mostly on the study of cross sectional data at the national level, with limited empirical use of exogenous differences in the abundance of natural resources at the subnational level.

The autours of this paper explore the case of Peru, a mining-rich middle income country where – exploiting a unique data set constructed for this purpose – they are able to assess systematic differences in district-level welfare outcomes between mining and non-mining districts. They find evidence that the condition of being mining-abundant district has a significant impact on the pace of reduction of poverty rates and inequality levels. They also estimate a heterogeneous response to the mining-abundant condition, finding stronger responses in lower-poverty, higher-inequality districts. Finally, they find a trend suggesting incremental positive marginal effects of the level of exposure to mining transfer, as proxy for the degree of abundance of mining activities, on the reduction of poverty and inequality.

A safeguarding system for cultural heritage in Korea: Focused on the activities of restoration, transmission, and protection of designated cultural properties < Others < Social Development < Resources

08 Mar 2016 02:28:01 GMT

In January of 1962, the Government abolished the Act of Treasures, Ancient Sites, Scenic sites, and Natural Monuments of Joseon, which they had retained due to financial difficulty since the colonial period, and then it established and proclaimed the Cultural Properties Protection Law. This was the first step of the safeguarding system for cultural heritage by the Koreans themselves.

The safeguarding system for cultural heritage has been developed through several complex events such as rapid social change, westernization, colonization, war, and economic development. This is why the system contains a larger experience than that of any other country. The strong resilience of the safeguarding system for cultural heritage shows that it is a very useful system. Many countries around the world have had experience with war and colonial periods after the 1890s, with the invasion of imperialism and conflicts between nations. Especially in the eastern societies, after the introduction of western modernized culture, they had a tendency to disdain their own culture, which led to the damage and destruction of their glorious cultural heritage. When these countries create legal systems or growth strategies for safeguarding their cultural heritage, the Korean system of safeguarding of cultural heritage can be used as a positive reference.

Consultation report on Equatorial Guinea’s key policy sectors: ariculture, fisheries, tourism, and finance

07 Mar 2016 12:39:14 GMT

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is an emerging West African country with its solid vision for growth, and, with the national strategic document of “Vision 2020” and under the administrative guidance of the National Agency 2020, implements widespread economic and social investment.

Since the visit of the President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to Korea in 2010, the Knowledge Sharing Program  or KSP project started for transmitting development experiences of Korea to this country. In 2012, after discussions between both parties, four sectors were selected as fields of consultation: agriculture, fisheries, tourism and financial services.

Global goals, African realities: building a sustainable future for all

04 Mar 2016 05:18:39 GMT

The Africa Progress Report is the annual flagship publication of the Africa Progress Panel (APP). The report draws on the best research and analysis, and makes policy recommendations for African political leaders and civil society who collectively have the primary responsibility for spurring Africa’s progress. Additionally, the reports also highlight critical steps that must be taken by leaders in the international public and private sectors. With the 2015 report having recently been published, the APP have published this retrospective, which compiles detailed and comprehensive summaries of their most recent annual reports.   The publication is split into four sections, representing the last four years of the APP African Progress Reports (2012 - 2015). Each section contains a foreword by Kofi Annan, and describes the findings of the thematic research supported by regular, clear infographics. Each concludes with comprehensive and detailed recommendations for relevant stakeholders, including African governments, the international community, and private investors and multinational companies.   The first section discusses the 2015 report called Power, People, Planet, which concerned Africa’s energy and climate related opportunities. This report sought to explore how Africa could help to avoid catastrophic climate change in a way that could sustain growth, create jobs, and lift millions of people out of poverty. The message of the report is that while present energy systems in Africa are often highly centralised, inefficient, and highly unequal in terms of access at high cost to the poor, new advances in low-carbon energy could allow much of Africa to leapfrog into a new era of power generation. International cooperation needs to be strengthened to tackle Africa’s interlocking climate and energy problems, not least because the window of opportunity to mitigate climate change is rapidly closing.   The plundering of Africa’s natural resources, including fish stocks and forests, is the subject of the 2014 report Grain, Fish, Money. This summary highlights the vast potential of African agricultural production, and the gulf between the potential and a reality in which dependence on food imports is increasing. Two-thirds of Africans rely on agriculture and fishing for livelihoods, so closing that gulf represents a huge opportunity to reduce poverty, generate more jobs, and improve Africa’s food security. Also highlighted in this section is the extensive and costly issue of illegal and unregulated plundering of fish stocks, which is conservatively estimated to cost West Africa $£1.3billion annually, and forests, which in total costs an estimated $17billion per year.   Equity in Extractives is the title of the 2013 report discussed in section three. Here, the authors show how revenues from oil, [...]

Policy issues for the ASEAN economic community: the Rules of Origin

03 Mar 2016 11:31:23 GMT

Striking a balance between trade facilitation and preventing trade deflection is the single most difficult challenge with regard to the issue of rules of origin (ROO). ASEAN ROO is already considered as among the simplest in the world and still, in practice, results fall short of expectations. ASEAN is fully cognizant that in order to achieve its goal of a single market and production base, progress in eliminating tariffs within ASEAN is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by an enabling ROO regime. Indeed, the AEC Blueprint explicitly provides for instituting reforms in ASEAN ROOs toward the direction of less restriction and simplification. In the medium term, ASEAN member countries can push for an East Asia Free Trade Area that will consolidate the various bilateral and subregional FTAs and therefore overcome the noodle bowl syndrome. This would be a direct result of harmonizing the various ROOs. It goes without saying that the ultimate or long-term objective would be an equitable and efficient multilateral trading system anchored on lower MFN rates under the auspices of the WTO.

A cautionary note on the interpretation of unit labor costs as an indicator of competitiveness, with reference to the Philippines

03 Mar 2016 02:27:31 GMT

This note shows that unit labor costs, the most widely used measure of competitiveness, are equivalent to the labor share in output multiplied by a price-adjustment factor.

This has three main implications. First, unit labor costs are not just a technical concept. They embody the social relations and institutional arrangements that influence the distribution of income between the social classes.

Secondly, lower unit labor costs should not necessarily be interpreted as implying that an economy is more competitive, i.e., that it will grow faster, and vice-versa. An increase in the wage share can accelerate growth through a number of channels. Hence, it is possible to find that countries with fast-growing unit labor costs also show faster growth in exports or in gross domestic product (GDP).

Third, one can define the concept of unit capital cost as a measure of competitiveness and shift the burden of lack of growth or loss of market share to capital. In this paper, unit labor and unit capital costs for the Philippines are calculated.

It is shown that the decrease in competitiveness (i.e., increase in unit labor costs) in the Philippines is exclusively the result of increases in prices as the labor share has decreased.

ASEAN Rules of Origin: lessons and recommendations for Best Practice

02 Mar 2016 02:22:48 GMT

Rules of origin (ROO) set the criteria in determining the nationality of a product and where a product was made. The importance of ROO has increased in the past years as more countries engage in free trade agreements (FTAs) and begun treating goods differently according to where the product was made, along with trade-specific preferences or restrictions to the imported good once its origin is determined.

This study is done to cull the lessons from ASEAN’s experience in determining and implementing the rules of origin. It draws the important lessons and makes recommendations for best practice that would contribute to the cooperation and integration efforts in the region. The paper examines the various design and implementation practice in ROO regimes, focusing on RTAs where the ASEAN is involved. The paper presents findings from recent studies on the cost of ROO compliance and the FTA utilization rates. It concludes with recommendations on simplification of ROO and some reforms on administrative procedures, bringing in the development country dimension, and some general guidelines to follow to improve ROOs.

Toolkit - 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence

01 Mar 2016 10:30:27 GMT

This toolkit is a step-by-step simple guide on how a company can tackle an issue that impacts health, wellbeing, absence and turn over in the workplace.

Companies can address 16 Days in myriad of ways, by either hosting a huge campaign or right down to simply sending a tweet.

The toolkit is a brief for companies to tackle domestic violence within these 16 Days. Companies that are interested in eliminating the impact of domestic violence in the workplace should join The Corporate  Alliance and move towards a future where domestic violence is quickly and efficiently addressed.

National industrialization in Philippine mining: review and suggestions

01 Mar 2016 02:17:27 GMT

Among the most daunting constraints mining has been facing is that it is a
generally extractive activity the way it has been traditionally practiced. This makes the country a mere exporter of raw materials to industrialized countries and unable to benefit from value-addition. To help address this problem, the national government has recently pronounced a long-term strategy of national industrialization in the mining sector. Among others, this strategy is intended to enable the sector to expand into processing3 and other downstream activities and transform lowvalue outputs of raw materials into processed products with higher value-added.

The paper reviewed national industrialization as a long-term strategy of mining development in the Philippines. The end purpose was to suggest immediate actions that can be undertaken for the promotion of national industrialization. The paper used secondary data and information from institutional sources and available relevant literature as well as primary data and information from institutional key informants.

The paper found that the knowledge base of the country required to pursue the national industrialization strategy is poor. The following studies therefore were suggested

  • value chain analysis for the mining sector and its sub-sectors, including but not limited to the copper, nickel, gold and chromite industries
  • development of community-based small and medium-scale operations in mining including the technology, financial, institutional and other forms of government support that could be provided to them
  • analysis of resource rents in the mining sector and its subsectors that will determine, among others, how much royalty tax should be imposed on them
  • evaluation of the appropriated export restrictions that may be imposed on the mining sector taking into consideration their economic, social and other impacts

In addition to the aforementioned research activities, the paper supports the institutional improvements that have been suggested by previous works. These include the strengthening of the organizational, legal, monitoring and enforcement other aspects of governance performed by government mining agencies.