The APO always seeks multiplier effects from its projects so that as many as possible can benefit from them. A prime example of an individual inspired to spread the benefits is Birendra D. Raturi (BDR), who started SR Asia after attending two APO projects on social responsibility (SR). Secretariat Industry Department Senior Program Officer K.D. Bhardwaj, who was in charge of those projects, interviewed Raturi via e-mail on behalf of the APO.
APO: What is SR Asia?
BDR: SR Asia is a network of professionals and certified practitioners in the domain of SR. A group of professionals was trained and certified by the APO after participation in its e-learning course on ISO 26000: Guidance on Social Responsibility in April 2011, followed by a face-to-face seminar on ISO 26000: Development of Social Responsibility in the ROC in August 2011. There were 12 SR Asia founding members who are country representatives/directors. There are formal and informal arrangements with 12 APO member countries to work in one or more dimensions of SR and sustainability. In 2013, SR Asia plans a minimum of one national conference in each country.
APO: How did SR Asia get started?
BDR: The participants were so inspired by the original e-learning course on SR that they started a Facebook page called SR Asia to keep their enthusiasm going. When the group subsequently met in Taipei for the face-to-face seminar, they decided to take it to the next level by forming SR Asia as a legal entity in each Asian country, with branches in APO members and New Delhi India as headquarters. SR Asia is a legally recognized nonprofit association in India with contact offices in Bangladesh, the ROC, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. SR Asia is now focusing on developing programs for 2012–2015. Conferences are already planned for 2012 in India and Bangladesh.
APO: How did the APO projects and interactions among participants inspire you to form SR Asia?
BDR: Both projects on SR under the ISO 26000 standard were meticulously planned and executed. The faculty, IT infrastructure, project management, and logistics were instrumental in creating the desire of participants to do something lasting with what they had learned. Today we have an actual organization in place which will allow us to do more over time. The support extended by NPOs, especially by the China Productivity Center, and the APO helped immensely in forming this group. The Secretariat has publicized SR Asia among APO liaison officers in member countries, so we expect the network to grow.
APO: How is SR related to productivity and what is its impact on achieving sustainable socioeconomic development in the Asia-Pacific?
BDR: Productivity is linked to multiple dimensions of ecosystems. Production involves people, material, methods, machines, movements, fuel and energy, money, and the surrounding environment and thus affects everyone to some extent. Socially responsible production requires consideration of all the parameters and living and nonliving things to achieve balance among them. The relationship between productivity and SR thus becomes very direct in terms of sustainability. While addressing productivity enhancement, we cannot forget the limitations we face now and will face in the future. Sustainability should be uppermost in our minds. SR recognizes that resources consumed at the current rate will not be available for long. We need to act now. Society can exist with limitations but not without natural resources like food, water, clean air, energy, etc. Productivity has a direct impact on socioeconomic factors like the types of raw material used, processes for manufacturing, and consumption patterns. Asia needs to be more responsible than the rest of the world in production because it has the largest populations and is a global manufacturing hub. Asia needs to innovate ways of doing things to safeguard future generations.
APO: How do you hope that SR Asia will affect the lives of the public, companies, and nations?
BDR: SR Asia’s mission is to make people aware that it is better to use products that are safe, secure, and produced responsibly with a sustainable approach. The demand side will be a pressure point in the supply chain encouraging organizations to adopt and adapt new practices. As a result, companies will become innovative and shift to the production of socially responsible products. Safe, responsible/sustainable production and consumption will ensure the peaceful coexistence of individuals, companies, and countries.
APO: How can individuals or companies become part of SR Asia’s SR efforts?
BDR: SR Asia’s mission is to conserve natural resources for the welfare of current and future generations by promoting change. SR Asia wants to work with all stakeholders to create awareness among consumers and manufacturers. We want to reach out to consumers through campaigns and work with companies in the design, development, and production of sustainable goods and services. SR Asia is an open platform for individuals, companies, governments, NGOs, and others to work together to achieve a sustainable Asia. Individuals/groups can become lifetime or annual members and support, endorse, and/or sponsor projects undertaken by SR Asia. Details of the contact offices are available at www.sr-asia.org, or those interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APO: Does SR Asia have a slogan or motto?
BDR: We will come up one; however, we are clear about our mission which is to create a network in Asia for knowledge pooling, SR implementation, and setting sustainable policies and practices; advocate, promote, and use green products and services; share knowledge and build partnerships for developing socially responsible products; and promote social research and tools for minimizing the impact of globally accepted threats and perceptions on sustainable development.
APO: Can you provide one example of a company with which SR Asia members are working on product design/development or any other arrangement?
BDR: SR Asia has initiated conferences and workshops at country level; we have planned two in India and another in Bangladesh. SR Asia is promoting socially responsible products for sustainable Asia and is exhibiting six companies at an international conference, 18–19 October 2012, which are currently implementing SR mapping with ISO 26000. The companies are from the agriculture, food, electronics, and auto components sectors. SR Asia doing this in partnership with CBI, Government of the Netherlands.
Birendra Raturi holds a postgraduate degree in Microwave Electronics from Delhi University and was certified by CBI the Netherlands and the APO. With 18 years of experience in management consulting and training in more than 200 companies, both large firms and SMEs, he specializes in quality, environmental management, occupational health and safety, and social accountability. Raturi is a visiting faculty member for the CBI; NPC, India; Cognos Germany, etc. and serves on several boards of directors.