Asean 'energy priorities' proposed by US delegation
Chevron, ConocoPhillips, General Electric and Peabody Energy were in Bali last week to hold discussions with Asean energy ministers.
Organised by the US-Asean Business Council, the delegation presented ministers with an "Energy Priorities White Paper" proposing ways that council members could partner with Asean governments to support region-wide energy initiatives. The white paper focused in particular on the US-Asean private-sector-led energy objectives of the Asean Plan of Action for Energy.
"The Asean Energy Ministers meeting is a vital platform for discussions on sustainable energy development throughout the region," said Kathy Santillo, the council's regional managing director. "One of the core goals of the council's energy committee members is helping Asean achieve their energy goals and improve market integration. It is our hope that the white paper can serve as a resource for the Asean Centre for Energy to help build win-win partnerships with US companies."
Particular priority in the white paper is given to increasing levels of renewable energy and applying higher energy-efficiency standards, thus enabling Asean to expand its industrial base.
The paper also stresses the importance of adopting international best practices to attract investment in energy technology and encourage the private sector to take a larger role in providing sustainable energy solutions.
The delegates presented recommendations that could boost investment and cooperation between the US private sector and Asean governments and private-sector stakeholders.
ADB to provide loans for Kolkata's sanitation
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide US$400 million (Bt12.5 billion) in loans to help the Indian city of Kolkata expand and improve water and sanitation systems in peripheral areas of the fast-growing metropolis, which is missing out on quality services.
"Kolkata is India's seventh-largest city, with a rapidly expanding economy, but it is struggling to provide decent basic services to its residents, especially those in the booming outer areas," said Fei Yue, director of the South Asia Urban Development and Water Division at the ADB. "If we don't improve the systems now, the disparities between the central and peripheral areas will get worse."
Inadequate investment and poor management mean water and sewage systems fail to serve all the city's residents and are not sustainable for those they do reach. An estimated 300 million litres of water is lost every day along the 5,700-kilometre network, undermining income for water suppliers. At the same time, much of the operating machinery - some up to 90 years old - uses far more electricity than modern equipment.
Asian businesses must be accountable, say experts
Urgent action is required to find innovative, creative and workable solutions to tackle equity and development in Asia, said Professor Richard Welford, chairman of CSR Asia.
"Despite conclusive evidence that businesses can make profits at the same time as addressing social needs, more action must be taken to increase shared values and achieve inclusive development," he added.
"It is not possible alone - multi-stakeholder partnerships [among] the golden triangle of business, civil society and governments are going to be vital to achieve progress," he said, echoing the sentiments of the CSR Asia Summit, which wrapped up recently in Bangkok.
Reflecting a regional trend of embracing sustainability disclosure by stock exchanges, the Stock Exchange of Thailand announced that Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission would soon publish guidance for listed companies on disclosure.
"In a world of radical transparency, if you do not disclose company impacts, people will think you have something to hide," Welford said.
There were also calls for companies not conforming to international expectations to be held accountable for their actions.