Responsible business practices

Responsible supply chains to help agribusiness meet international expectations and SDGs

Over 200 participants from government, civil society and non-government organisations involved in agribusiness in the Philippines will gather on 25 July to address responsible business practices, including decent work, challenges and opportunities as part of the 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Forum.

Press release | Manila, Philippines | 24 July 2019
Manila, (ILO News) - For the first time the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) are co-hosting a dedicated Technical Seminar on the Implementation of International Expectations and Standards on Corporate Social Responsibility/Responsible Business Conduct (CSR/RBC) in Agribusiness.

ILO CO-Manila Director Khalid Hassan, OECD Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Policy Advisor Stephanie Venuti, Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines Counsellor Thomas Wiersing, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-BWC) Director Teresita Cucueco, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Alegria Limjoco led the opening programme of the Technical Seminar on 25 July in Manila. Photo: ©ILO/L. Gonzalez
The Seminar will facilitate an open, business-driven dialogue on international CSR principles and transforming these principles into policies and steps that companies can implement. It also aims to equip participants to help promote responsible supply chains, meet international expectations and adhere to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This seminar also builds on the ILO and OECD’s on-going work under the Promoting Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Programme, in partnership with the European Union (EU), to promote responsible business practices in global supply chains in Asia.

“We want to provide an opportunity for dialogue on responsible business conduct, the SDGs, and decent work challenges in agribusiness. Supply chains in agribusiness involve many actors, suppliers and subcontractors. Companies and enterprises play crucial roles in ensuring decent work and respecting labour rights, while protecting the environment even at the bottom of supply chains,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

The world’s population is increasing, and so is the demand for food. Agribusiness supply chains are essential to our everyday life and are crucial in our efforts to promote more sustainable and inclusive growth. In a world shaped by climate change and limited natural resources, agriculture plays a decisive role in sustainable economic development and businesses are at the heart of the solution.

In the Philippines, more than 10 million people depend on agriculture as the main source of livelihood. Yet workers in agriculture often face challenges on fair wages, social protection and safety and health at work. Some of them work without contracts, which undermine their labour rights. The sector also accounts for the largest share of child labour in the Philippines.

“The Seminar will provide business with clarity around international expectations on Responsible Business Conduct, and importantly how business can take steps today to identify and address risks in supply chains. Agribusinesses by working together can act to ensure that operations and business relationships do not lead to adverse impacts. By maximizing the positive contributions of agriculture and addressing the related risks, businesses in the Philippines can contribute to sustainable development across the entire agricultural supply chain. It is time to move from policy to action, and we have the tools to do so,” said Shivani Kannabhiran, OECD Agriculture Sector Lead and Policy Advisor for Responsible Business Conduct.

The European Union is a valuable trading partner of the Philippines for agricultural and food products thanks to GSP+. The GSP utilisation rate of the Philippines is estimated at 73 per cent, and the share of PH exports under the GSP regime make up 26 per cent of total PH exports to the EU. According to the EU Ambassador Franz Jessen, there is a strong potential for both the EU and the Philippines to improve and diversify agriculture trade especially since our bilateral trade is complementary.

“As the Philippines and its key stakeholders are benefiting under GSP+, we hope that this project will help the other aspects of our bilateral trade i.e. the business side to improve its capacity such that corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct would no longer be seen as philanthropic activities but as essential in their operations and competitiveness. I would urge our stakeholders to take advantage of the ILO and OECD expertise towards achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development in the country,” said Ambassador Jessen.

The government’s Inclusive Business Programme fosters an enabling environment for CSR/Responsible Business Conduct in line with the Philippine Development Plan. Increased awareness of the CSR/RBC further contributes to enhancing engagement of businesses to integrate the SDGs and the UN Protect, Respect and Remedy framework for business and human rights.

“To be sustainable, businesses must also take a long-term view of their impacts on the lives of their employees and the local communities where the company operates and as returns to investors,” according to the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

Furthermore, for the ECOP, “responsible business practice should be an integral part of sound corporate governance practices and that the integration of environmental, social and even governance issues into investment decisions is critical to valuing long-term investments.”

Agreements and recommendations from the dialogue will contribute to strengthening policy coherence, due diligence, collaboration and transparency in governance of enterprises and supply chains.

For more information please contact:

International Labour Organization (ILO)
Ms Ruby Bañez
ILO Responsible Supply Chains in Asia
+63 2 580 9910

European Union (EU)
Ms Thelma Gecolea
Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines
+63 2 859 5124

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Ms Stephanie Venuti
OECD Responsible Supply Chains in Asia
+33 01 45 24 74 53

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP)
Ms Rhodora Snyder
Manager, Project Management Department and CSR Focal Point
Employers Confederation of the Philippines
+63 2 8965006