In the last decade the Asia region has witnessed rapid economic growth and a remarkable reduction in poverty. Nevertheless many challenges remain. On the one hand, the fast-paced growth and booming of the manufacturing and service sectors have exacted a large toll on the environment and natural resources in a region that is highly vulnerable to environmental threats. On the other, with some 908 million workers that live on less than a USD 2 a day and the continuing pressure of globalised competition, enterprises’ performance and improvements in prevailing working conditions remain of fundamental importance.
It is in this context that the ILO initiated the Greener Business Asia Project, with the aim of promoting capacity building and bipartite cooperation to support greener workplaces and sustainable enterprises.
Adopting environmentally-sound practices and technologies is not only necessary to ensure the longer-term viability of enterprises and economic sectors by safeguarding the natural capital on which they depend, but it can also be part of a strategy to maintain or improve firms’ competitiveness: it can results in cost-savings, or the opening of new market niches.
In order to realise such benefits and implement the change that is needed, dialogue and cooperation between employers and workers in the framework of the promotion of decent work principles are of critical importance.
The project supports an integrated approach that helps companies to improve their triple-bottom line performance: it links environmentally-friendly practices to improvements in productivity and overall competitiveness, while advancing the decent work agenda at the workplace.
The project is implemented in Thailand and the Philippines, and the sectors of focus are tourism and the automotive industry respectively.
By working in the automotive industry and tourism sector, the project will demonstrate a bipartite model of cooperation and produce a core set of materials that can be easily adapted and used to improve the triple bottom line of industries that are the backbone of many Asian economies - manufacturing and services.
In supporting capacity building and knowledge sharing, the project will produce a new set of green business development services at the sectoral level and strengthen tripartite organisations’ ability to contribute to policy forums, thus assisting them in fulfilling their role for achieving sustainable development in the region.