As the sustainability 'industry' fragments, the real action is all in emerging markets

Ghana: Where responsible business can have a real impact
As I mentioned in my previous post, we're seeing some genuinely interesting collaboration today as big companies realise they have to play the major role in driving progressive change around global environmental, social and yes, even governance issues.

As they do so, we're seeing increasingly specialised roles in companies as they tackle what often turn out to be technical issues once the policy is written and the targets committed to.

This is as it should be. The sustainability generalist is the boss, the team below are much more technical and specialist.

In what used to be called emerging markets it's often a different story, so far.

(Emerging markets is seen as a bit misleading/patronising, given Europe's woes. I like the term "lean' markets although lots of people use the term "frontier", which has its own challenges)

Terminology aside, these faster-growing and accelerating countries are where corporate sustainability matters most. This is not a new idea, of course. The Western CSR agenda was driven mostly by supply chain concerns about emerging markets and working or environmental and governance conditions.

But now things in lean/frontier markets are getting interesting. The Indian Government's misguided CSR tax is one example.

Ghana's current national CSR framework development is another, as is what is happening in Indonesia with Asia Pulp & Paper and a number of other companies.

I'm here in Accra, about to help run five days of executive/government training for very senior politicians, their top advisors, very senior company execs and NGOs on corporate responsibility strategy.

Imagine having this level of access in Europe or the U.S. today? Unimaginable.

I'm also helping with the national CSR Framework here in Ghana. It should be an interesting process.

After I worked with the current UK Prime Minister on CSR policy from 2006-9, some of the end results were not taken quite as seriously as I would have liked by the current UK coalition government. For various reasons that is understandable.

I have a feeling what we come up with for Ghana may end up mattering a whole lot more. Fingers crossed.

I'm looking forward to an interesting week of training, meeting ministers and CEOs. I'll report back as I can on this blog in a few days.


(For readers interested in London-based training on Stakeholder Engagement in Frontier/Emerging Markets, take a look at this programme scheduled for 16-17 June)
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