Asia Foundation’s Delhi Conference Explores Expanding Role of Asian Private Sector in Development and South South Cooperation
New Delhi, August 12, 2016 — Countries across Asia are increasingly recognizing the vital role played by the private sector in delivering large scale social impact, both at home and in partner countries, according to participants at an international development conference this week.
Corporate representatives, government officials, policy specialists, and development practitioners from more than 10 countries gathered in New Delhi from August 10-11, 2016 for the 15th meeting of the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue, an ongoing series which addresses how Asian countries’ engagement in development and South-South cooperation is changing the global aid landscape and the development prospects for the region.
The two-day conference provided a forum for sharing perspectives and approaches on the role of Asian business in addressing social and economic challenges faced in the region. The dialogue provided a rare opportunity for government, NGOs, and private sector to discuss strategies for more effective collaboration. This is the 6th year of The Asia Foundation’s partnership with the Korea Development Institute (KDI) on the AADC program. The Delhi dialogue was co-hosted by the Forum for Indian Development Cooperation, (FIDC), Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) India, Voluntary Action Network India (VANI).
Representatives from companies such as AirAsia, LG Electronics, Ricoh, Jain Irrigation and Cisco shared their experiences of delivering high social impact in areas such as social enterprise development, appropriate technology for learning, building digital literacy and providing access to water for farmers. They also shared common challenges such as measuring social impact, identifying sustainable partners, and managing complex regulatory environments in different countries.
Ambassador Shyam Sarah, RIS Chairman and former Indian Foreign Secretary, noted that countries from the South, like India, have dynamic private sectors, whose increasing work in the social sector is not only adding value to their business but also tackling social challenges. To encourage corporate social investment India introduced the “2 percent law” in 2014 requiring companies of a certain size to annually contribute 2 per cent of their profits to corporate social responsibility (CSR). The representative from China’s Ministry of Commerce explained how China has established a comprehensive regulatory and enabling frameworks for enhancing corporate social responsibility.
In her keynote address Shobana Kamineni, President Designate of the Confederation of Indian Industry and Executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals remarked, that the “time is now for better convergence of government and business in providing solutions for for global challenges.” She pointed out that India has a number of “frugal innovations” such as “telemedicine” that can provide bottom of the pyramid solutions to pressing needs.
The conference ended with a roundtable on new frontiers in private sector partnerships, exploring concepts such as shared value, social impact bonds and co creation wherein companies, NGOs, and governments bring their respective strengths to a project to create higher social return. Participants concluded that commercial return and social return are not mutually exclusive and strategic partnerships with business, government and civil society offer the most promise for sustainable impact in development cooperation.
In previous years, AADC conferences have focused on the changing aid landscape, rising inequality and pro-poor growth, climate change mitigation and adaptation, social mobility, advancing south south cooperation.
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