SustainAbility has released a new tool for reviewing, analyzing and benchmarking sustainability reporting by companies. "Learn from the leaders" is a database of reports organized by sector, region or issue – from the likes of BP, Nike, and Shell. Also useful for companies trying to figure out how to create their own reports.
East Asia and Pacific
In the World Bank working paper titled "Fungibility and the flypaper effect of project aid: micro-evidence for Vietnam" released earlier this month Dominique van de Walle and Ren Mu ask about the degree to which the donors get what they paid for. The authors examine the World Bank project to rehabilitate 5,000 kilometers of district and commune level roads in Vietnam:
In a twist to the labor market flexibility debate, the Financial Times reports dramatically more flexible working hours in the Japanese underworld. Japanese police reveal over 50 percent of gang members are now "part-time," opting out of the hierarchical world of full-time mobsterhood – compared to 30% in the regular economy.
Does having a good business environment help reduce poverty? The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development - a group of aid agencies which support private sector development - recently hosted a debate in Bangkok on the motion: "Business Environment Reform is the Key Element in the Reduction of Poverty". There were around 200 participants from donor agencies, Asian governments, the private sector, and civil society.
The McKinsey Quarterly's recent article, A Grassroots Approach to Emerging-Market Customers, introduced me to the Manila Water story. This public-private partnership has taken the brave, and often necessary, step in serving low-income consumers: changing their existing business model.