Galvanizing Sustainable & Responsible Finance in the ASEAN Roundtable

Galvanizing Sustainable & Responsible Finance in the ASEAN Roundtable

Mark your calendars: A consultative dialogue hosted by Fair Finance Asia (FFA) in collaboration with the Gender Transformative & Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA) will be held on September 29, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

For member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to gross domestic product (GDP) and economic growth and development in the region. In 2020, agriculture accounted for 10.3% of total GDP in the ASEAN region, and the sector is particularly important to the economies of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The food and agriculture sectors are also the most important sources of employment in Asia. More than a third of the working population in Cambodia and Vietnam, and nearly half of the working population in Myanmar are employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Laos contributes to 61% of employed workers, while Cambodia accounts for 28.7% of skilled agricultural workers in the region’s agriculture sector. Nearly all agricultural employment in the Asia-Pacific region is informal (94.7%), and in Southeast Asia, 99.3% of work in agriculture is informal.

Women are generally overrepresented in the informal workforce in agriculture. In Brunei, 70.3% of women working in agriculture are informally employed, compared to 35% of men. This is not unique to Brunei – informal employment rates are also generally higher among women in other countries in Asia. In Cambodia, women make up 48% of the total labor force in Cambodia, and approximately 30% of these women are employed in agriculture4.

A recent report by FFA and GRAISEA, Harvesting Inequality: The Social Impact of Financial Institutions’ Investments in Asia’s Agribusinesses, showed that agriculture is a vital sector for countries in Southeast Asia, and its importance to Asian economies, livelihoods, and food security cannot be understated. However, these sectors are mired by social challenges. Despite existing policies on labor rights and gender equality, exploitative conditions remain common, from modern slavery and forced labor to child labor, informal and precarious work, violations of freedom of association and the right to organize, low wages, dangerous working conditions, and gender-based discrimination.

Therefore, FFA and GRAISEA aim to initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue around the findings of the Harvesting Inequality report to synthesize policy recommendations on gender and sustainable finance towards the ASEAN Chairpersonship under Cambodia in 2022.

This invite-only multi-stakeholder roundtable aims to:

  • Facilitate a consultative dialogue on the strategic levers to better integrate social criteria, particularly gender equality, labor rights, and transparency and accountability, into the ASEAN’s sustainable finance policy framework and initiatives;
  • Support the ASEAN Cambodian Chair in synthesizing policy recommendations and feedback from key stakeholder groups, including civil society, on accelerating sustainable & responsible finance implementation, with a strengthened lens on social criteria and impacts;
  • Identify meaningful linkages and synergies with other key initiatives on sustainable and responsible finance across the ASEAN to follow through on the next steps resulting from this dialogue.

For further details, please refer to below materials:

  • Full dialogue concept note here
  • Executive summary of the FFA–GRAISEA study here
  • Full Harvesting Inequality study here
  • Media coverage of the launch of Harvesting Inequality report in line with the C20 Indonesia Kick-off Ceremony and on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2022) here
  • Featured story by Eco-Business on Harvesting Inequality report: Asian banks are failing women in agribusiness: study here


For more information please contact:

Bernadette Victorio, Program Lead, Fair Finance Asia


About FFA: Fair Finance Asia is a regional network of civil society organization (CSOs) committed to ensuring that financial institutions’ respect and uphold the rights and social and environmental well-being of local communities. Eight countries within the region are part of the FFA network: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

For more information about FFA, visit 

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