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On June 6, 2023, Fair Finance Asia (FFA) and the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) will conduct a Side Session at the 5th United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights (UN RBHR) Forum, Asia Pacific, in Bangkok, Thailand. Titled, “Pathways to a Rights-Based Economy: Gender-Responsive Human Rights and Financial Due Diligence,” this session aims to facilitate a dialogue on pathways for government economic policies and the financial sector track to gender-responsive human rights and financial due diligence that enables human rights-based economies (RBEs).
A RBE is an emerging concept that seeks to inform economic policies (including budget and regulatory) of governments (including financial regulators) as duty-bearers to create an enabling environment for economies that are aligned with human rights principles and commitments. The RBE also seeks to ensure that macroeconomic policies of Asian Countries in areas such as tax policies, debt management, tackling illicit financial flows, and monetary policies, among other areas, are aligned and informed by the wider human rights commitments and treaties. This means collecting adequate revenue to realise social and economic rights, while protecting the right to food and food sovereignty by supportive policies, while ensuring that illicit financial flows do not drain available financing for development.
Similarly, business actors, including financial institutions, are duty-bearers under the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights in respecting and upholding human rights through their business relationships (e.g., nominee shareholding, institutional investment) and financing (e.g., loans, credit). Financial institutions can exercise significant influence over the policies and practices of businesses and supply chains they finance, which, when left unchecked, may facilitate gender-based and human rights violations and exposing financial institutions to significant financial and reputational risks. Hence, it is imperative for financial institutions, as duty bearers under the UNGPs, to leverage their influence when an entity with which they have a business relationship with is linked to a potential and/or alleged human rights abuse in their operations and across their respective supply chains.
- To broadly define the concept of the RBE.
- To review the duties of government and business actors, particularly financial institutions in a RBE, and assess current gaps in policy design and implementation.
- To facilitate a dialogue on potential strategies, and pathways towards an enabling policy-environment for RBE and sustainable finance in Asia and the Pacific.
The session seeks to facilitate a panel discussion between and among key experts and stakeholders concerning emerging alternative rights-based and gender-responsive pathways, mechanisms and approaches to post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery policy-making and business conduct particularly towards the financial sector. The session aims to emphasize the importance and role of human rights and financial due diligence in mitigating supply chain impacts in holding business actors including financial institutions accountable for their duty to respect the human rights of communities and workers.
The session will be moderated by Srishty Anand, Programme Officer, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. Panelists will include Arun Kumar, Retired Professor and Economist, Matti Kohonen, Executive Director, Financial Transparency Coalition, and Bernadette Victorio, Program Lead, Fair Finance Asia.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
- What is the concept of a RBE economy?
- What are the duties of governments, and business actors, particularly of economic and financial regulators and financial institutions in a RBE? What are the current gaps in policy design and implementation?
- What are the opportunities, gaps and trends in mechanisms, strategies, and pathways in Asia-Pacific that enable RBE, responsible business conduct, and sustainable finance?
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