On June 9, 2022, Grow Asia, together with the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Secretariat, hosted a virtual conference entitled “Advancing Responsible Investments to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals: Regional Event on the Implementation of the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food Agriculture and Forestry (ASEAN RAI)”.
This virtual event convened over 160 participants from the private, public, and civil society sectors across the region to share implementation updates on the ASEAN RAI Action Plan. The event featured government action in translating the regional guidelines into national policy, highlighted actions by companies embedding responsible practice, showcased experiences from civil society organizations in different countries, and engaged all participants in their feedback on existing activities and future direction.
The event opened with representatives from Grow Asia and IISD sharing updates on progress towards achieving the objectives of the first phase of the ASEAN RAI Action Plan. This included recent developments on the ASEAN RAI Alignment Assessment Tool that allows ASEAN Member States to compare its legal and policy framework to the ASEAN RAI; experiences in multistakeholder dialogues initiated by civil society organizations; and activities and actions in the private sector including case studies on responsible investment, the RAI scoring tool, and the Learning and Accreditation program.
The updates were followed by breakout rooms designed for each of three stakeholder groups: public sector, private sector, and civil society.
Breakout 1. ASEAN-RAI Alignment Assessment Process: Embedding ASEAN-RAI into the national context
This session was focused on the ASEAN RAI Alignment Assessment Tool and pilot project including its institutional setup, the progress of the assessment process from different implementing countries, the experience of Indonesia in conducting the alignment assessment, and the outlook for broader stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society organizations.
To provide context on the experience of an ASEAN Member State (AMS), Professor Erizal Jamal, Focal Point of Indonesia's Pilot Country for ASEAN RAI Alignment Assessment, presented the country’s experience in the assessment process including recent results, challenges, and next steps for implementation. Part of the assessment result is assigning the main coordinator for the process (in this case, the Ministry of Agriculture) and identifying ministry counterparts for each of the guidelines. Professor Jamal pointed out that they are now at 90% progress with their self-assessment and are preparing for peer-to-peer review in the coming months.
Breakout 2. Implementing the ASEAN RAI: Tools to Incorporate Sustainability into Business Policy & Practice
This session featured highlights from agribusinesses and investors in the region on how they engage with the ASEAN RAI through their business and investments, specifically via the ASEAN RAI case studies, scoring tool, and Learning and Accreditation Program.
Saran Song, CEO of Amru Rice, shared how his company benefited from participating in the ASEAN RAI case study series, which he said highlighted areas of opportunity and development. Saran highlighted the value of inclusivity in their business model which involves women and indigenous groups.
Sanjiv Louis, Investments Director for SEA, SAIL Ventures, shared about the challenge investors face due to the high number of sustainability performance indicators and standards. Sanjiv noted that harmonized policies in the region could help drive transformative investments into the agriculture and forestry sectors.
Gisela Tiongson, Executive Director of Jollibee Group Foundation, shared about their efforts on training and capacity development for farmers. Gisela added that the Foundation welcomes opportunities for enhanced collaboration, such as the ASEAN RAI Learning and Accreditation Program.
Breakout 3. Mainstreaming the ASEAN-RAI through actions of civil society actors
This session talked about the role of civil society organizations in advocating and raising awareness of responsible agricultural investment, as well as engaging in consultations with other stakeholders (government and private sector).
Thongdam Phongphichith, Co-Director for the Sustainable Agriculture Environment Development Association (SAEDA), shared the various actions of different civil society organizations implementing ASEAN RAI activities in Lao PDR. Mags Catindig, Assistant Secretary-General of AsiaDHRRA highlighted the importance of multistakeholder participation in achieving global and regional goals as well as the need to build the capacity of farmers and people’s organizations through constructive dialogue with the government and public sector, and the private sector.
Jenny De Guzman of AsiaDHRRA spearheaded the discussion revolving around the region’s shared priorities, as well as exploring opportunities for collaboration between the AMS and the private sector.
Breakout sessions generated recommendations for consideration by project partners (ASEAN Secretariat, Grow Asia, IISD, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and regional partners (e.g. AsiaDHRRA):
Support interagency cooperation as part of the ASEAN RAI Alignment Assessment process
Align ASEAN RAI to other industry standards
Launch the ASEAN RAI Learning and Accreditation Program to train 50 participants
Raise awareness about the ASEAN RAI, particularly in terms of engaging women and youth
Continue multi-stakeholder engagement in promoting the ASEAN RAI
Recommendations for private, public, and civil society sectors
Breakout sessions generated recommendations for the private, public, and civil society sectors:
Advance, review, or amend national policies and programs supporting access to the guidelines
Invest in local actions supporting specific guidelines
Contribute to national dialogues
Participate in national and regional learning exchanges
Monitor social accountability in the implementation of the guidelines
The ASEAN Secretariat will share these recommendations and outcomes with the ASEAN Technical Working Group on Research and Development (ATWGARD) for consideration at the Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF) later this year.
The event closed with the soft launch of the Learning and Accreditation Program and sharing from a an ASEAN Secretariat representative about ongoing commitment to increasing responsible investment.
This event, and the related activities delivered under the ASEAN RAI Implementation Plan, are made possible by generous support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).
To get involved in the ASEAN RAI Implementation Plan activities, please contact us. For questions about specific initiatives or activities, please contact the relevant team member below:
On legal and policy advisory services and capacity development opportunities for the ASEAN Member States:
Ronald Eberhard Tundang, Law Adviser, IISD
On the Learning and Accreditation Program and private sector tools and case studies:
Erin Sweeney, Lead, Sustainable Investment & Inclusion, Grow Asia
On civil society engagement and national-level workshops:
Emma Jessie McGhie, Programme Officer (Responsible Agricultural Investment), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations