Sunday, March 09, 2008

Guinsaugon gets new school building

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 03:40pm (Mla time) 03/03/2008

St. Bernard, Southern Leyte, Philippines — The survivors of the Guinsaugon landslide have received another school facility at their relocation site.

The Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the corporate social responsibility arm of various companies in the Philippines, turned over the four-classroom high school building to the municipality and the Department of Education in a ceremony here on Thursday.

Citigroup and United Way International funded the construction of the building.

The PBSP also handed over encyclopedias and other books for the school.

Children's Hour executive director Teresita Villacorta and Development Bank of the Philippines assistant vice president Bernardino Olayvar also handed out scholarship certificates to 13 elementary pupils from Guinsaugon.

The school building was the 15th that the Citigroup has built in the country under its project B.L.U.E (Building Literacy, Understanding and Education), according to Tomas Yap of Citigroup Philippines. /Inquirer

PBSP inducts 8 new members

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 08:23:00 02/23/2008

AT least eight new member-companies were added into the roster of the Visayas chapter of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Visayas chapter, a private and non-profit organization that promotes the advocacy towards corporate social responsibility.

“Member-companies are the lifeblood of PBSP because they volunteer their resources for worthy causes,” said Jose Levi S. Villanueva, PBSP Visayas membership committee during the induction of new members held on Wednesday at the Casino Español de Cebu.

The new members are A.B. Soberano International Corp., Cebu Graphicstar Imaging Corp., Cebu Northwinds Hotel, Julie's Franchise Corp., Professional Placement and Recruitment Agency, Recovery House, Shangri-la's Mactan Island Resort and Spa and Valiant Bank of Iloilo.

Villanueva said the PBSP-Visayas started in 1970 with only 50-member companies. Now, its membership has grown to 236. The member-companies are required to allot a portion of their income for social development.

The new members signed a commitment of support that states, among others, as a “private enterprise, by creatively and efficiently utilizing capital, land and labor, generates employment opportunities, expands the economic capabilities of our society and improves the quality of our national life.”

The new members said that PBSP “shall be private enterprises’ social development arm dedicated to the empowerment of the poor and self-reliance of communities.”

During the annual meeting, a coffee table book entitled “A Better Life” was also launched.

The book introduced by Cebu Daily News publisher Eileen Mangubat is composed of success stories of PBSP member-companies, including Cemex, Penshoppe and Juanito King and Sons.

PBSP Visayas executive committee chairman Jose Antonio Y. Aboitiz also announced the group's plan to launch a race across Hilutungan Channel as part of the celebration of Environment Month.

He said the activity will also be participated by the Philippine Olympic swim team. Editorial Assistant Ma. Bernadette A. Parco

‘It’s good business to fight corruption’

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 11:34am (Mla time) 02/22/2008

CEBU CITY, Philippines - Landless farmers, fisherfolk and the poor benefit from businesses that practice corporate social responsibility (CSR), a United Nations official said.

“One cannot claim to be practising CSR unless the markets are linked with concepts of human rights, human development and good governance,” said Nileema Noble, UN resident coordinator.

“We have to ensure that the people’s rights are protected and fulfilled. People are no longer seen as consumers of goods. There must be a shift from shareholders to stakeholders,” she said in her speech during the 20th annual Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Visayas membership meeting on Wednesday at the Casino Español in Cebu City.

Noble said the focus of CSR should be in improving the quality of life of society at large.

“Companies should not only be aware of the issues but be actively involved,” she said in the fight against poverty.

She said graft and corruption has “severely affected” the country’s economy.
“It makes good business to fight corruption,” she added.

PBSP is the largest social development foundation in the country and counts major companies in its roster of members. The Visayas committee, which marked its 20th anniversary, is headed by Jose Antonio Aboitiz, PILMICO chief finance officer.
Noble commended the PBSP Visayas for its anti-poverty projects in reforestation, coastal management, farming, education, emergency relief, business advisory services and others.

Noble said the UN Global Compact asks companies to align their activities with ten principles in the areas of human rights, environment and anti-corruption practices.

Global Compact is the world’s largest, global corporate citizenship initiative.

The ten principles include:

•Businesses should support the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights

•Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and recognize the right to collective bargaining and stamp ou all forms of forced labor.

•Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges and encourage the use of environmentally friendly technologies.

•Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Noble said the Philippines is halfway from reaching its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty significantly by 2015.

“The Philippines has made considerable progress in terms of fighting diseases like malaria and providing people access to clean water,” she said. But the same cannot be said for other targets such as the universal access to education.

“There is a decline in net enrollment rate. The cohort survival rate, students who stay from primary school to high school, of 100 students enrolled only six are able to graduate from high school,” she said.

“Poverty incidence shows there is an uneven progress among the regions. This is a reflection of the global trend. There is no equity in economic growth,” she added. /Editorial Assistant Ma. Bernadette A. Parco

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Highlights of the UN Resident Coordinator's Keynote Address during PBSP's 20th VAMM

The Keynote Speaker of PBSP’s 20th Visayas Annual Membership Meeting (VAMM) is Mrs. Nileema K. Noble, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) Philippines and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mrs. Noble has over 25 years of work experience in the UN system. These include the UNDP and the Commonwealth Secretariat - Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-Operation in London, United Kingdom. In the Commonwealth Secretariat, she specialized on multi-sector engagement on international programs that focus on poverty reduction and sustainable human development.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts, with Honors, in Political Science and History from the University of Bombay, Mumbai, India. Mrs. Noble also has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Boston, USA.

The UN is a very important development partner of PBSP. PBSP’s poverty reduction, education, health, environment and corporate citizenship programs are aligned with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals or MDG. Through the MDG, the UN and PBSP contribute to the reduction of poverty and improvement of the Filipinos’ quality of life by year 2015.

The 20th VAMM, attended by over 200 officers from the business sector, government, civil society, academe and media, among others, was held last February 20, 2008, at the Casino Español de Cebu, Cebu City. The discussions that follow are culled from Mrs. Noble’s keynote address during the 20th VAMM:

On CSR vis-à-vis human rights, human development and good governance

Doing business on human terms is what Corporate Social Responsibility is all about. One cannot claim to be practicing CSR unless the traditional business concepts like enterprise, markets, shareholders and profits are properly contextualized within the larger concepts of human rights, human development and good governance.

FROM BUSINESS ENTERPRISES TO DUTY-BEARERS. Companies are no longer expected to shy away from their obligations to the people. The State does not have the monopoly of obligations. Companies are also expected to ensure that the people’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

FROM MARKETS TO CLAIM HOLDERS. People are no longer expected to be viewed as mere consumers of goods, and production of goods is not based on needs alone, but based on fundamental human rights of people as claim-holders, especially the poor and marginalized.

FROM SHAREHOLDERS TO STAKEHOLDERS. Companies are no longer viewed as merely addressing needs of their shareholders alone. They form part of a bigger community of stakeholders. As such, companies are increasingly balancing the needs of all stakeholders, with the need to make a profit for their shareholders while ensuring environmental responsibility.

FROM CHARITY TO CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP. It is important to distinguish CSR from charitable donations and “good works”. CSR is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.

FROM PROFIT TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Companies do not live by profit alone. They are expected to do business that does not only generate profits for the company and their shareholders, but equally important it ensures that their workers and their families and the community they work in will benefit from it. The practice of CSR is not measured by the number projects or the resources they have invested but more importantly by their significant contribution to society’s social and economic progress.

MDG Updates

To date, over 1,000 companies have been reached by MDG advocacy and promotion activities particularly in Luzon and Visayas.

In the Mid-Term Progress Report of the Philippines on the MDGs released late last year, it was pointed out that halfway to the target year 2015 to achieve the MDGs, the Philippines has made considerable progress particularly in poverty reduction, nutrition, reducing child mortality, combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilet facility.

But the country needs to work harder on targets concerning universal access to education, maternal mortality and access to reproductive health services. Access to primary education worsened in School Year (SY) 2005-2006. This represented a decline in the net enrolment rate from the 2000 level of 96.8% to 84.4%, thereby setting back the 2015 target of universal access. The decline in number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births has slowed down, from 209 deaths in 1993 to 162 deaths in 2006. It is unlikely that the 2015 target of 52 deaths in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) will be met.

Access to reproductive health care improved at a modest rate for currently married women ages 15-49, from 49% in 2001 to 50.6% in 2006. At this rate, the 2015 target of 80% access is difficult to achieve.

On poverty reduction, while the national average shows that poverty has declined, comparison across regions shows uneven progress, inequity and wide disparities which are increasing. In all the goals and targets, existing indicators exhibit significant disparity by region. Only three (3) regions, namely, Ilocos Region (Region 1), Cagayan Valley (Region 2) and the National Capital Region (NCR) are consistently above national averages. The rest of the regions lag behind in most of the targets, with large pockets of poverty noted in these areas. This situation of disparity in the Philippines is actually a reflection of the global trend that indicates that the benefits of economic growth are not equitably shared.

On good governance

The MDG progress report made several recommendations on how to move forward and make 2015 a future within reach. Good governance is a cross cutting theme in all the recommendations. It means an effective government, a socially responsible private sector and an enlightened civil society that is able to forge public-private partnerships to address wide ranging issues.

In the Global Report on the MDGs released last July 2007, it was underscored that large-scale progress towards MDGs have been possible in some countries that had strong government leadership, policies and strategies combined with adequate financial and technical support; countries that have been able to mobilize additional resources and targeted public investment that benefit the poor; countries that used strategies that adopted a wide ranging approach to achieve inclusive growth including the creation of a large number of additional opportunities for decent work; countries that undertook programmes for human development, particularly education and health, as well as building productive capacity and improved physical infrastructure.

On business' strategic position

Business and private sector play an important role in the attainment of the MDGs because of its potential to contribute to development by capitalizing on its three (3) spheres of influence.

First, through core business activities in the workplace, the market place and along its supply chain.

Second, by social investment and philanthropic activities outside business operations towards helping communities.

And third, through private sector engagement in public policy dialogue and advocacy. These three areas of influence of the business and private sector must continue to be explored and up scaled to further enhance and intensify what can contributed to the attainment of the MDGs.


Continuation of the highlights of the UN Resident Coordinator's Keynote Address during PBSP's 20th VAMM

On global warming

[At this point] I want to make special mention of the issue of global warming and climate change, the effects of which are now beckoning and being felt worldwide in weather pattern changes that have wreaked havoc and costs in many countries. Global warming is now unequivocal. Emissions of carbon is alarming, something that humankind has control of, and if not impeded, may affect the achievement of MDGs.

The threat posed by global warming warns about unprecedented reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education. The private sector is a critical partner in the promotion of a sustainable environment. Adaptation to climate change, the search and use of alternative and renewable forms of energy and the promotion of changes in lifestyle, specifically how humankind uses resources are areas that the private sector can look into, for example, opportunities in carbon trading.

Challenges to the business sector

Undertake advocacy and awareness raising partnerships with stakeholders.

Companies especially PBSP can partner with other stakeholders to take a leadership role in championing, advocating for, and contributing to resolving different issues, including the sensitive issue of corruption. It is important for business to be aware of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)and to be active in shaping the regulations that will guide industry.

Assist in scaling-up what works, and expand your experiences and share CSR best practices to those that may benefit from them.

There is a need to facilitate more discussions among the various business associations because much can be done through the collective action of companies. The most significant contribution of the private sector to the MDGs is to invest and to be successful and to do so in a socially and environmentally responsible manner – thereby creating enormous social benefits including employment and income generation. The challenge for governments, business, NGOs and other societal actors is to find ways to scale-up collaborative efforts in order to achieve wider impact.

Assist and serve markets at the “bottom of the pyramid.”

The approach to the Bottom of the Pyramid is about creating the conditions for a growing and thriving economy able to meet the MDG. Businesses are constantly developing new products to suit the increasing demands of the consumers, to better please their needs. Unfortunately, few businesses are focusing on the world biggest market in terms of number of consumers, a market bigger than China, the US and the European Union together: The Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP). Globally, the BOP is made up of 4 billion people who earn less than US$ 1,500 per year.

Research shows that the poor consumers usually pay more than the rich consumers for basic services, while the quality of goods that the poor people purchase is almost always substandard. The Bottom of the Pyramid is largely served by the informal sector and the advantages of economies of scale are thus missing at the
bottom of the pyramid.

But pursuing the Bottom of the Pyramid approach requires public-private partnerships to minimize risks and bring the risk and reward ratios into balance. This partnership would then facilitate access to financing, assist in the development of skills and knowledge, and enable sustainable delivery of basic services. This partnership can include support for initial exploration of innovative ideas, field-testing, and appropriate investments in infrastructure and capacity building. Essentially, public sector can help to reduce risks that prevent private companies from reaching to the Bottom of the Pyramid.

Forming ecosystems and building/strengthening local networks.

One of the most compelling ways to help companies succeed is by increasing the power of the linkages and networks they are part of. Local networks can bring many benefits by:

a. Enabling the transfer of skills, technology and quality.
b. Ensuring that foreign direct investment has positive spillover effects.
c. Bringing companies into the formal sector.
d. Creating the capacity to govern transactions through commercial contracts.
e. Opening markets and the supply of inputs to smaller firms through networks of larger partners.
f. Improving the ability of small and medium enterprises in such networks to get financing on commercial terms.
g. Increasing the wages, employment standards and productivity of local companies.
h. Increasing the choice and lowering the prices for poor consumers by bringing a greater variety of goods to market.

In social investment and philanthropy partnerships, the private sector can provide financial support, contribute volunteers or expertise, or make in-kind contributions, including product donations.

Mobilizing resources such as capital, products, skills and volunteers, private-sector organizations can deliver a wide range of essential services, including educational training, micro-credit schemes, environmental management, as well as critical goods such as anti-malaria bed nets and condoms.

Partnering with the United Nations through the UN Global Compact

Partnerships between the private sector and the UN have become increasingly popular in recent years, producing innovative solutions across a broad spectrum of local and global initiatives and laying the foundation for greater engagement.