Business and human rights (part 3): advantages of the human rights framework for CSR

The debate on business and human rights has become a central theme on the international and national corporate sustainability & responsibility agenda.  The world has changed significantly with the majority of large-scale projects – including those delivering basic human services – being privately rather than publicly funded. This has led to a new set of obligations and demands from business.

Part 1 of this series offered four key introductory texts into the subject, part 2 looked at The Role of National Human Rights Institutions with links to various players; today I will review the advantages of the human rights framework for corporate sustainability and responsibility, a link often overlooked by practitioners.

Human rights refer to the basic rights and freedoms all human beings are entitled to.  [Read more…]

Valentine’s Day – it’s about love, isn’t it?

Valentine’s Day – it’s about love, isn’t it?

20130209-081937.jpgDid you know that Saint Valentine’s Day is said to derive from a christian tradition involving a Pope in 500 AD?

These days, Valentine’s Day has become a symbol for consumerism with ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts for him and her and ‘experiences’ at varying costs being promoted relentlessly weeks before the occasion. I resent the commercialisation of such a precious gift: the love and affection between two lovers. And that is why I am making the case for no Valentine’s Day or slow Valentine’s Day – borrowing from the slow cooking movement -and it goes like this: [Read more…]

Business and human rights: the basics (part 2): the role of national human rights institutions

Business and human rights: the basics (part 2): the role of national human rights institutions

Today, following business and human rights: the basics (part 1) which included 4 key introductory texts for anybody wishing to make sense of this rapidly evolving field and become familiar with the issues, this short overview focuses on the role of National Human Rights Institutions in business and human rights.

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play an important role in the business and human rights sphere and are well placed to help align business activities with international human rights standards in line with their general mandates to promote and protect human rights. Some NHRI”s already address many business related human rights issues through:

[Read more…]

Australia Day’s Inspiring Australians

Australia Day is a day of celebration for most people but also of sadness for others. It is definitely a day to pose the question: what does it mean to be Australian? Well,  what better place to start looking for an answer than in the beginning.

Reconciliation Australia has put together this fantastic list of inspiring Australians for us and while Australia Day can be considered by many a sad day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders it lends itself to celebrate their great achievements.

“Each year the Australian of the Year Awards provide an opportunity to recognise someone who inspires us and makes us proud. Whether you call it Australia Day, Invasion Day or Survival Day, the 26th of January provides an opportunity to acknowledge successful and inspiring Australians and what they add to this nation—acts of recognition such as these are building blocks for reconciliation.” quote Reconciliation Australia


Click here for more information about the work of Reconciliation Australia and here for information about Australia

Reconciliation Australia has developed another website: Share our Pride with initial funding from the Westpac Foundation and the Coles Group Community Fund. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across the country have provided input and feedback on the content. Every effort has been made to capture the diversity of Indigenous cultures but to also keep the content simple and introductory. The site will continue to grow and the first priority is to add specific Torres Strait Islander content.

Business & human rights: the basics (part 1)

For the past decade or so I have been keeping abreast of  developments in business and human rights in Australia and abroad and have just updated an introductory reading list for a forthcoming workshop.  I would like to share the key documents with those of you who need to get across the topic quickly without compromising quality.

Whether you are a law student, a sustainability or corporate responsibility professional or simply an interested individual – if you want to save time sifting through the vast amount of material and wish to get to the substance immediately – look no further. The list of articles below is organised in priority order:

[Read more…]

New year’s resolution – where there’s a will there’s a way!

New year’s resolution – where there’s a will there’s a way!


Did you know that most New Year’s resolutions fail? How frustrating! This newly won insight is reinforced in many articles about our impending failure being published this time of year.  It instills a certain fatalism and gives us an excuse before we even begin.

The trick  is to either not make any resolutions at all or to focus our attention on the attainable and on how to make it work! One thing, action, habit that can move from intention to action. This list entitled: “5 ways to make your New Years Resolutions Stick” appealed a lot to me – because it moves away from setting grand gestures to simple, achievable goals.

And this ties in nicely with my guiding motto for 2013:

Actions speak louder than words. [Read more…]

Ten last minute alternative Christmas presents that rock the world!

Ten last minute alternative Christmas presents that rock the world!

generosity - good will - love

Christmas is about generosity,  good will and love – and thankfully there are many ways to express these sentiments.  Instead of spending money on last minute gifts that might end up in landfill, here are a few ideas. Giving to a good cause is one of them.  Let’s match the amount of money we spend on presents with the amount we gift to charities! Imagine the impact that would have!


1. Give an hour. Change the Future for  Australian disadvantaged children – donate the equivalent of one hour of your income to Children’s Promise and help change the  world for the better!

2. Sponsor your very own bear from as little as $200 and help this wonderful Australian organisation to achieve even more ! 100 % of donations go to the cause:  Free the Bears  [Read more…]

Bring on the education revolution to save the planet!

Bring on the education revolution to save the planet!

What do Australian children need and what can the public and the government do to help protect them and make the future more secure?

Children are naturally vulnerable and most people wish to ensure they are protected and grow up to reach their full potential regardless of their background and circumstances. There are many individual issues that affect the quality of childhood. These include their health & mental health, the provision of sufficient opportunities and the quality of their education to name just a few.

In addition, there is one overarching issue that affects all of us, a common denominator that has not found its way into policy and practice yet: the safety of our planet. Sustainable management of our resources is being discussed this week at the Rio + 20 summit and this is extremely timely.

We have known about the negative environmental impact of large scale economic activity for at least four decades. The assumptions upon which we have based social service delivery to protect children have changed and continue to change. Nothing is simple anymore but children need to inherit a clean and safe environment as the minimum foundation to prosper.  So what do we have to do to attain a sustainable lifestyle for them? How will the effect of climate change influence the delivery of social services to children? What does climate change mean for the policy and practice of protecting children? [Read more…]

Rio + 20

by Terence Jeyaretnam, Director of Net Balance (, one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms. Terence is based in Melbourne.

A businessman would not consider a firm to have solved its problems of production and to have achieved viability if he saw that it was rapidly consuming its capital. How, then, could we overlook this vital fact when it comes to that very big firm, the economy of Spaceship Earth and, in particular, the economies of its rich passengers? E F Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, 1973

Erosion of natural capital has continued over the past 50 years, despite the heightened awareness of environmental impact of industrialization and population growth. Over the fifty years, there’s been a multitude of international conventions, giving birth to a large number of new institutions and protocols on sustainable development. They have proved just one thing – that there’s no silver bullet for the environmental predicament. [Read more…]

hybrid flowers at the Byron Bay farmers markets – let’s get real!

hybrid flowers at the Byron Bay farmers markets – let’s get real!

Beach...The Byron Bay Farmers Market is doomed!  Why? A hybrid flower stall turned up not long ago and selling these particular, non local, non native varieties of flowers point towards a bigger issue. Because hybirds are artificially refined.  Because of us manipulating nature to ‘improve’ it without consideration of unintended consequences or in the worst case scenario, through simple carelessness.

For more than two decades I have been in love with Byron Bay due to its natural beauty and as an experiment in sustainable living – healthy living on a small footprint in harmony with the environment.

[Read more…]