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Practice News
Corporate social opportunity – Taking ethical risks to market
Contributed by David Grayson and Adrian Hodges   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Growing numbers of companies are seeing opportunities in meeting social and environmental needs, but business as a whole is not moving fast enough, say David Grayson and Adrian Hodges

Global revolutions in technology, markets, demographics and values are giving companies a whole new set of issues that they have to manage urgently.

These issues include the environment, human rights, diversity, health, work-life balance and the community. Historically, these have been regarded as “soft issues”, but they have become “hard” for business: hard to ignore, hard to manage, and very hard for the businesses that get them wrong.

We first marked this trend in our book Everybody’s Business: Managing Risks and Opportunities in Today’s Global Society, in 2001. Three years later, in Corporate Social Opportunity, we further developed our argument that, handled correctly, these issues need not just be about minimising risk, but could become a source of new marketplace insight and a stimulus to innovation. We always saw corporate social opportunity as being a corporate mindset, as well as developments in products and services. UK fruit smoothies maker Innocent Drinks, which has made its commitment to sustainability integral to its brand identity and values, and retailer Marks & Spencer’s Plan A commitment are good examples of what corporate thinking for sustainability can achieve.

Read the full article: Corporate social opportunity – Taking ethical risks to market

Searching for a new world order in Davos
Contributed by Independent Online, South Africa   
Friday, 25 January 2008

Davos, Switzerland - The spectacular rise of China and India coupled with a decline in US influence has prompted heated debate in Davos this year over possible scenarios for a new world order.

While the United States remains the undisputed military superpower, experts participating in the annual gathering of the world's political and business elite have highlighted its waning ability to set the global agenda on its own.

And with the UN Security Council struggling to provide a consensus on just about any major issue, the question of what nation, group of nations or international institution could command a leading role on the future world stage was floated to a widely varying response.

The only real point of agreement was that the current fluidity in the balance of world power carries a serious threat of instability and conflict, as well as concerns over how to build an effective international response to extreme abuses of power such as acts of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

"We don't live in a multi-polar world, we live in a non-polar world," said John Chipman, director general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Read the full article: Searching for a new world order in Davos

UN chief moving `at full speed' on food crisis
Contributed by Associated Press   
Friday, 25 January 2008
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he is moving "at full speed" pushing efforts to tackle the world food crisis.

Ban said he will hold the first meeting of his recently formed United Nations task force on food next Monday.

He also said he is sending invitations to all world leaders to join him at a high-level meeting to work out a strategy for addressing food shortages and soaring prices. The conference, organized by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, will be June 3-5 in Rome.

"This crisis did not come out of the blue," Ban told reporters. "It grew out of more than a decade of neglect and ineffective development policies. We need a new start."

While there have been "promising steps" in recent days to deal with emergency food needs, the entire U.N. system needs to lead and act together "to boost agricultural development, particularly in Africa and other regions most affected," he said.

The secretary-general said he is urging government leaders not to adopt measures that distort international trade in food and push up prices. He also called for immediate action to get seeds and fertilizer to small farmers.

Ban was asked about criticism from President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who urged the U.N. on Sunday to dismantle the FAO, calling it an ineffective money-eater that he blamed for most of the current food crisis.

While expressing sympathy for the frustrations of Wade and other African leaders, Ban defended the FAO, saying the agency has led international efforts since 1945 to promote agricultural productivity and humanitarian assistance to people affected by food shortages.

Read the full article: UN chief says he is moving `at full speed' on food crisis

So you want to work in the voluntary sector?
Contributed by Debbie Andalo, The Guardian, UK   
Sunday, 04 November 2007
Debbie Andalo looks at career options in the voluntary sector

One in 50 employees in the UK works in the voluntary sector which offers more than 600,000 job opportunities, according to latest figures from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

But despite these statistics, which reflect how popular the not-for-profit sector is as a career destination, it is notoriously difficult to break into. Job vacancies, especially those based overseas in international development or humanitarian work, will often demand experience so it can appear a closed shop to those who want to work for a voluntary organisation.

Charities, and those responsible for its workforce development, are increasingly taking the initiative themselves in creating new routes into employment. Working for a Charity the organisation devoted to meeting the skill needs of the sector, launched its first online training course last year. Called Effective Voluntary Sector Management, it runs for 12 months and is aimed at new recruits, those keen to work for a charity and career changers. Working for a Charity's manager, Elaine Smethurst, says: "We believe the demand is out there for this course. One of its joys is that if we have enough notice we can expand it, as it would only require us recruiting additional online tutors."

The online course, which begins every February, is in addition to three other established face-to-face courses that the organisation runs, which have attracted more than 2,000 students since 1990. The two-evening introductory course offers a brief outline of the sector and job opportunities, while the foundation course provides seven days of seminars and a 20-day charity work placement. The three-day executive programme targets people keen to move into the sector but who have inflexible full-time work commitments.

Read the full article: So you want to work in the voluntary sector?

Time for a grand re-think of grand aid plans
Contributed by William Easterly, SciDev.Net   
Saturday, 22 September 2007

Aid donors should re-think their self-appointed role as saviours of the poor, and try more modest and realistic approaches, argues William Easterly.

Over the past five decades, the West has donated US$2.3 trillion in foreign aid to poor countries. Most of this money has been funnelled into a series of grand plans to eradicate poverty — plans that have become increasingly high-profile in a bid to attract money from both public and private purses.

After being lobbied by rock stars to "make poverty history" in Africa, G8 countries doubled foreign aid to Africa from US$25 billion to $50 billion in 2005. But as advocacy for increased aid grows ever stronger, what do we have to show for it?

Value of piecemeal projects

African children are still dying of malaria for sleeping without a mosquito net and for lack of 12 US cent medicines that could treat them once infected. Of course, aid has helped, mainly through piecemeal efforts such as oral rehydration therapy to counteract the effects of diarrhoea, or with sanitation projects. It is this type of success that is more feasible than a grand plan aiming, for example, to provide everyone in the world with clean water by 2015.

Take bednets, for example: development economist Jeffrey Sachs, along with celebrities such as Bono and Bill Clinton, has often lobbied for free bednets to protect against malaria. But a study of a free-bednet programme in Zambia showed that 40 per cent of recipients didn't use them. By contrast, a project to sell nets for 50 cents to mothers in Malawi by the non-profit organisation Population Services International increased the national average of the number of children under five using nets from eight per cent in 2000 to 55 per cent in 2004, and a comparable rise in use by pregnant women. The nets were bought by those who valued and needed them most.

Read the full article: Time for a grand re-think of grand aid plans

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