One example in sugarcane is the relationship between farmers and mills with indigenous communities in many sugarcane countries. Regular engagement through structured dialogue is helpful and ensuring that there free, prior informed consent (FPIC) for natural resources.
In vulnerable island nations, where the most affected are in rural remote islands without access to basic services such as good education- not many people understand their rights and what they should be fighting for to protect themselves as well when other entities decide to do business using their resources. At the same time, companies that come in are largely profit orientated and just ignore to seek the views of the community. Thus they are easily exploited.
People who have directly experienced a problem have a much different outlook on their needs and priorities. That’s why it is crucial to engage and listen to the most impacted communities.
Some of the challenges for businesses to work with impacted communities will be:
i. Low levels of participation: There may be obstacles that prevent their involvement, such as lack of transport or child care in their home.
ii. They can easily be frustrated. People affected by the problem may have been ignored in the past. If people expect that they will be ignored again, they will be less likely to even attempt to get involved.
iii. Everyone lives in a different community and has their own culture and beliefs. People may not open up themselves especially to businesses because of their bitter experiences in the past and they may not trust them.
iv. The complexity of processes can intimidate people and prevent them from getting involved. People may be scared to speak up because they might not understand what’s going on.
V. People are busy and cannot give enough time in listening to businesses.
Mainly, access to information, project plans, and engagement of local people in the business can improve transparency, accountability as well as participation.
No doubt that unionisation can enable a much greater focus on social dialogue, and the Global Framework Agreements between companies and unions have made some impact certainly on gender/gbv in supply chains.
Most of the formal business sector in Solomon Islands is set up in the capital. Rural communities are largely dependent on subsistence farming, and very small scale informal business, despite making up almost 80% of the country’s total population and a large number of communities who are directly impacted. The biggest challenge for these communities is accessing basic services and the underlying cause is the geographical nature of our many islands thus businesses are constrained with what they can do or invest in. Just as it is difficult for the people to access services, bringing business to our many scattered islands is a far too high cost for, and for many it is one they are not able to make.
A good example is the Wharf in Buala, which is the main town in the province of Santa Isabel, where my parents are based. That is now under water because of how much the sea level has risen over the years, and now affects safe delivery of goods by ships coming in from the capital.
Hence I will reemphasise that understanding these factors and also the various traditional ways of living that different villages have is important to establish rapport with people in the rural areas and engaging them in discussions that will inform development in their communities is crucial.
1- unpredictable weather conditions.
2- bad social cohesion in developing countries. For example, conflicts associated with religion, natural resources and different socio-economic aspects.
3- Weak institution structure.
Yes - Businesses and people are at different stages of awareness regarding the climate crisis and they have different solutions. Some businesses and people are well aware of climate impacts and are living through drought, floods, etc and are acutely aware of the intersectionality of climate change with poverty, gender inequality, lack of human rights etc. Other are almost oblivious to the impact and can even actively try to sabotage any programmes which challenge their views or disturb the status quo (usually these are people/businesses that benefit from the inequalities present).
There has been much progress but women are still underepresented within unions so thier voice is not as strong as it should be.
Agreed with this. Profit-oriented business that largely undervalues people’s rights is similar in Nepal as well.
I’d say 1) ‘knowing who to work with’ this is often where NGOS are helpful as brokers or facilitators.
2) making sure companies are engaging with communities that have a direct or indirect bearing on their core business or supply chain (rather than grants to unrelated groups or communities)
3) Recognising the massive power imbalances between each other….so being very transparent, really listening and not extracting views/token views. I also think getting it right is hard. INGOs still struggle to work really effectively with ‘local partners’ and really put the localisation agenda into practice. Its why the whole ‘de colonisation of aid’ agenda is so important.
transparency and accountability to impacted groups be by empowering those groups through:
Supporting formulation and enactment of favorable policies on farm inputs pricing considering issues like taxation|
Strengthening farmer/community owned intuitions like community based organizations and cooperatives.
Levels of participation is a really good and important point. Sometimes a lack of participation is due to logistical and cultural barriers which I think can often be broken down with thought and consideration.
I think transparency and accountability can only be improved by regulations. In developing countries, institutions are weaker and thus they have weaker regulations in comparison to developed countries or Global North
For businesses, I think the change from moving to regenerative agriculture maybe be a challenge. For this to happen market systems need to change from more conventional agriculture to regenerative agriculture. Many market programmes focus on private companies and see farmers as recipients, not actors capable of driving change. In reality farmers are the holders of the regenerative agricultural knowledge and skills that the private sector needs to meet their new lofty targets. Their active involvement in the process of market systems development will bring benefits for all.
The Practical Action Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD) approach facilitates the engagement of farmers and other marginalised groups in market development: firstly, by strengthening their market literacy and providing them with the skills needed to engage with market actors; and secondly by running participatory market forums giving farmers fair opportunity to engage with and influence others.
Another huge problem is because businesses are risk adverse. The challenge is who underwrites the risk and also about sharing or managing the risk. Working with organisations like ours could help with this
In Solomon Islands as well, other challenges lie within human resource management (poor work ethics/different cultural context), & also having a very old, expensive tax regime that only some comply to, which means it takes longer for others who do comply to actually grow. The tax regime needs reform so that it provides a levelled field for all to ensure transparency and accountability.
Is patriarchy one of the reasons behind the under representation of women in unions?
In the most part businesses realize that it is sustainable practices that improve customer perceptions get a premium on their brands, attract better employees and they are aligning themselves for ever-increasing disclosure requirements. Shareholders increasingly demand it and Investors are smat enough to recgnize this trend.
Farmers really are capable of making massive change. However, they shouldn’t be expected to finance the changes needed - the costs need to be absorbed across the supply chain or be backed by financial institutions.
Can you explain abit about what makes an institution weak?
Yes - for me it is a fundamental for others not so much and only in part. As you will know there are many reasons why women are excluded. Like most of these issues it needs to be tackled on a wide front.