Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


tsunami prompts best practice advice

February 2005

Advice to corporates on best practice response to disasters is being developed by the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) as a result of the Boxing Day tsunami. ASrIA, a non-profit association promoting corporate responsibility and sustainable investment practice in the Asia Pacific region, has asked for suggestions to help it to draw up a policy.

ASrIA has produced an initial report recording some of the early assistance offered by companies and organizations. The Citigroup Foundation, for example, announced a $3million (£1.6m) donation for the relief effort within three days of the tsunami. Nike and the Nike Foundation gave $1million, and Abbott Laboratories committed $4million in healthcare funding, medicines and nutritional preparations. Thai hotel chains gave free accommodation to guests from rival groups hit by the disaster, and transport and courier operators co-ordinated their services and offered warehouse space to relief agencies.

The report, however, points out that in the interests of good governance listed corporations have to consider the limits on what they can do with shareholders' money.

The longer-term policy observed by ASrIA is the co-operation developing between corporates and non-governmental organizations, care groups, governments and the media to be able to respond to any future disasters. ASrIA believes a lasting effect can be achieved if companies can treat these partners as stakeholders in producing CSR programmes.

Particularly practical developments reported by ASrIA include easier credit terms offered by banks to help with reconstruction, tax breaks and other financial incentives by governments, and a three billion baht ($76.5m, £41m) venture capital recovery fund formed by the Thai finance industry to help small businesses that have suffered.

The report also emphasizes the importance of providing mobile phones to people in remote impoverished areas. Various bodies have helped to get mobile phones to these areas to facilitate loans for small business start-ups but the value of this type of communication is now being seen in relief work.

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