The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Solomon Islands is encouraging private companies in Solomon Islands to publish sustainability reports and are urging entrepreneurs to implement Corporate Social Responsibility activities relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This was reiterated during a Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) Business After Five (BA5) information sharing event on Friday 28th June 2019 attended by businesses and companies who are members of the Chamber.
UNDP Partnership and Entrepreneurship Specialist, Mr Hunjai Lee made an informative presentation on how sustainability reporting can promote private sector to adopt business practices that move communities toward inclusive sustainable development.
He highlighted that this kind of responsible engagement between the private sector and communities is also accordance with the country National Development Strategy (NDS).
According to Mr Lee, there are several ways that private companies can gain benefit by engaging in CSR activities, which includes:
Articulating sustainable Vision, Strategy and Business Plans
Sustainability reporting encourages companies to assess, and if necessary, to update, their visions, strategies and business plans to ensure that sustainability is embedded in their organizations.
Improving Management System
Reporting allows companies to track progress and sheds light on areas needing improvement.
Creating a sustainability report requires a concerted effort from companies’ employees, exposing them to the companies’ commitment to sustainability.
Because sustainability reporting isn't yet common practice in all regions and sectors, those organizations that do it can be identified as 'leaders'. Those companies differentiate themselves from others with just a general commitment.
The process of sustainability reporting provides companies with opportunities for stronger engagement with their stakeholders, which in turn can result in better relationships with them. Stakeholders would feel empowered while the companies can gain valuable insight beneficial to their sustainability journey.
Investors are more likely to be attracted to and continue to support companies that demonstrate a commitment not only to employees and customers, but also to causes and organizations that impact the lives of others.
Reputation and Trust
Transparency about non-financial performance can help to reduce reputational risks, open up dialogue with stakeholders such as customers, communities and investors, and demonstrate leadership, openness and accountability.
Mr Lee said UNDP is currently working with private companies in the Solomon Islands to implement CSR activities.
One of them is SICCI member, Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands (KPSI) who have their unique way of producing coconut oil, which is called Direct Micro Expelling (DME).
DME oil production process uses coconut shells left over from the extraction of oil, as the fuel for coconut drying.
The primary drying process for KPSI's new entry into cocoa production is solar drying, not requiring any fossil fuels.
It does not need wood from local forest resources or non-renewable fossil fuels. After oil is produced using their patented DME extraction method, the residual meal is a highly nutritious de-fatted grated coconut with many uses.
It has high protein and dietary fibre content.
This way of production is contributing SDG 3 ‘Good Health and Well-being’, SDG 7 ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’, SDG 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ and SDG 13 ‘Climate Action’.
Mr Lee said in addition to this, KPSI is also implementing numerous CSR activities that align with various SDGs including SDG 4 ‘Quality Education’, SDG 5 ‘Gender Equality’, SDG 8 ‘Decent work and Economic Growth’, SDG 10 ‘Reduced Inequality’, and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’.
He said in addition to empowering the private sector, it is important for the Solomon Islands Government to establish channels for private companies to participate in achieving NDS by implementing diverse types of corresponding CSR activities.
SICCI is of the view that in the Solomon Islands the challenges are quite complex in getting businesses to not only become familiar tune with the SDGs and the National Development Strategy, but to also then work with the Government to get the information on its activities captured and disseminated to all layers of society.
SICCI Executive Officer, Mr Nelson Kere agrees.
He notes that: “Most businesses in the Solomon Islands are already undertaking activities that are traditionally regarded as CSR activities, however they do not readily identify these same activities with the Sustainable Development Goals and most especially, with the target goals in our country’s National Development Strategy”.
In August 2018, SICCI hosted former UNDP Administrator and New Zealand Prime Minister, Ms Helen Clark at its Business After 5 eventing event which provided the opportunity for businesses and the private sector to get deep insight on how they can engage and participate in helping the country achieve the SDGs.
During the event, Ms Clark stressed that achieving an ambitious agenda like the SDGs cannot be achieved without full engagement with the Private Sector and the business community.