Sunday, November 2, 2008

CSR Asia Summit in Bangkok

I am currently attending the CSR Asia Summit in Bangkok and I thought I'd share a few initial impressions:

1. GROWTH - The rise of CSR up the agenda in Asia is reflected in the Summit's attendence. There are over 300 participants this year, up from 220 last year and around 150 the previous year. CSR Asia itself reflects this growing interest in CSR, now with 25 staff in offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shenzhen, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka and Ho Chi Minh City.

2. DIVERSITY - It is very encouraging looking through the speaker and delegate lists to see how diverse the organisational representation is - not only corporate CSR types, like the head of water for Coca Cola and supply chain for Hewlett-Packard - but also NGOs and consultants focusing on corruption, HIV/AIDS, climate change and labour justice, to mention but a few. 

3. PRIORITIES - Until fairly recently, CSR in Asia was largely equated with philanthropy and supply chain issues, specifically labour conditions. Now, there is a marked shift to environmental issues, specifically water, but also deforestation and climate change, as well as product responsibility (not surprising, in the wake the Mattel and contaminated milk scandals in China).

4. CRISIS LINKS - The relationship between the financial crisis and CSR has already emerged as a hot topic, with Mr Kasit Piromya, Director of Internaitonal of the Democratic Party in Thailand, stating that governments will have to tackle the systemic greed of the financial markets and overpaid CEOs if CSR is to be at all effective in future.

I will listen to the debates and discussions over the next two days with interest. For more information about CSR Asia, go to