World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19th August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

World Humanitarian Day was established in 2008 by the United Nations General Assembly and was first officially celebrated in 2009. The date of 19th August was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, an event in which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello and twenty two others lost their lives.

Last year, the Day focused on female humanitarians, sharing the stories of 24 women who had effected change in cities and towns and villages globally.

This year World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months. Aid workers are overcoming many challenges to assist people in humanitarian crises in 54 countries, as well as in a further nine countries which have been catapulted into humanitarian need by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

World Humanitarian Day 2020: A tribute to aid workers on the front lines

On August 19, the eleventh year that we have marked World Humanitarian Day, we are paying special tribute to the #RealLifeHeroes who have committed their lives to helping others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world.

The campaign focuses on what drives humanitarians to continue to save and protect lives despite conflict, insecurity, lack of access and risks linked to COVID-19.

This year, COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world.  The lack of access and restrictions placed by Governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.

Therefore, the campaign presents the inspiring personal stories of humanitarians who are treating and preventing COVID-19, providing food to vulnerable people in need, providing safe spaces for women and girls in lockdown; delivering babies; fighting locusts and running refugee camps, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Youth Day

International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

International Youth Day promotes the benefits that young people bring into the world, celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.

Many countries participate in this global event, which may include youth conferences on issues such as education and employment. Other activities include concerts promoting the world’s youth, as well as various sporting events, parades and mobile exhibitions that showcase young people’s achievements but with COVID19 here with us most of the activities shall not happen.

2020 Theme: Youth Engagement for Global Action

The theme seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.

Enabling the engagement of youth in formal political mechanisms does increase the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies, and also has symbolic importance that can further contribute to restore trust in public institutions, especially among youth. Moreover, the vast majority of challenges humanity currently faces, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change require concerted global action and the meaningful engagement and participation of young people to be addressed effectively.

This year’s International Youth Day seeks to put the spotlight on youth engagement through the following three interconnected streams:

  • Engagement at the local/community level;
  • Engagement at the national level (formulation of laws, policies, and their implementation); and,
  • Engagement at the global level.

 

What Can You Do?

Think about what you can do in your community and how you can effectively spread the message. Here are a few tips:

  • Educational radio show. Contact popular local/national radio stations to request a slot to have a discussion with distinguished individuals and youth.
  • Organize a (virtual) public meeting or debate to discuss young people’s contributions to global issues especially COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Organize a youth  virtual forum to exchange ideas and discuss cultural backgrounds in order to help young people accept others and popularize a culture of non-violence.
  • Organize a (virtual) concert to promote International Youth Day and the launch of the Year. Invite your local musicians and combine it with a panel discussion or invite a politician or policy maker to hold the key note speech.
  • Write to your Minister of Youth to inform him or her about the challenges young people face in their daily lives and to suggest solutions.

World Breastfeeding Week 1st August – 7th August

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration which is held every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries.

The goal of World Breastfeeding Week is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields many health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.

Breast milk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.

The 2020 theme is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.”

#WBW2020 will focus on the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people. The theme is aligned with thematic area 3 in the WBW-SDG 2030 campaign which highlights the links between breastfeeding and the environment/climate change.

As Cityscape Trends we have ensured any staff who is a mother is given maternity leave to fully take care of their infants. We also support them by educating them on the importance of breastfeeding their infants for 6months without stopping and how to breastfeed.

We have also ensured they have a conducive workplace by minimizing the impact to the environment. All our cleaning products contain human friendly elements which are non-hazardous to their health. They are biodegradable and ecofriendly and some ingredients used  are good for human consumption such as vinegar. This promotes healthy mothers who later pass to their infants who shall be healthy too.

Together, through commitment, action and collaboration, we can ensure that every mother has access to skilled breastfeeding counseling, empowering her to give her baby the best possible start in life.

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – 30 July

This year is the twentieth anniversary of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and its historic Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.

Some of the Exploitation victims go experience include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Blue Heart Campaign

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has established the Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking . The Blue Heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked, while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings.

2020 Theme: Working on the front lines to end human trafficking

This virtual high-level event highlighted the crucial roles of a range of groups of people engaged in responding to trafficking in persons, particularly in the context of the global response to COVID-19.

This year, the focus was on the first responders to human trafficking. These are the people who work in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more important, particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult. Still, their contribution is often overlooked and unrecognized.

Through stories from first responders describing their practical work in assisting victims we intend to spotlight their contribution and that of their function, institution, organization, team, or community and its impact on fighting trafficking. The key messages focus on the positive, recognizing the importance of the work done by first responders, as well as seeking support and raising awareness that these actions need to be sustained and replicated. The stories will also highlight how first responders remained committed during the pandemic.

World SME Day

The World SME Day is celebrated to recognize, applaud and create awareness of contribution of micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the economy. The General Assembly decided to declare 27 June the Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day to raise public awareness of their contribution to sustainable development and global economy.

In Kenya, SMEs Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises employ a large percentage of the population in Kenya including youth, women and people from poor background. They are the backbone of developing economies.  SMEs contribute largely to poverty eradication and reduction of crime rates by providing job opportunities. On this day, we want to highlight COVID-19 Pandemic: The Great Lockdown and its impact on Small Business

SME Day 2020 – COVID-19: The Great Lockdown and its impact on Small Business

Small businesses, including those run by women and young entrepreneurs, are being hit hardest by the economic fall-out of the pandemic. Unprecedented lockdown measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in supply chain disruptions and a massive drop in demand in most sectors.

To continue playing their crucial role in creating decent jobs and improving livelihoods, small businesses depend more than ever on an enabling business environment, including support for access to finance, information, and markets.

Job loss

The COVID 19 Pandemic has affected negatively a lot of businesses resulting to some employers forced to give their employees a pay cut, leaves and others were forced to shut down their businesses e.g. tourism sector. This means over 1million people in Kenya lost their jobs since the first case was announced in Kenya.

Nairobi and Mombasa great lockdown

With the Nairobi and Mombasa great lockdown, most small business such as the long distance travel was forced to shut down to contain the disease. Supply chain from other parts of the country was adversely affected since people had to send their goods as parcels and no human interaction was required between the buyer and the seller. The good thing is that there is a little sustainability among those businesses especially those dealing with non-perishable goods.

Curfew Hours

The curfew hours negatively affected small business especially people from vulnerable areas that live from hand to mouth. Some lost their source of income making it difficult to get something to eat for the day. As a business we were forced to release our employees earlier than usual to enable them beat the curfew hours. This means we worked less hours than the normal times.

Increase in cost of Cleaning Products

The cost of products skyrocketed and most of them went out of stock because of rush to buy products to kill the virus. Suppliers decided to sell products on cash basis with no credit terms. This affected our daily cash flows.

We started making Do It Yourself Cleaning products that will be able to eliminate the virus via WHO guidelines. We find it easy to eradicate rhino virus that causes common flus. This virus is complicated to eradicate compared to coronavirus. As long the solution has 60% ethanol it can be able to eradicate coronavirus and it’s safe to use at home and in any environment.

Read More on the Challenges we have faced during COVID-19 Pandemic as SME….

The Challenges & Our Response towards the COVID19 Pandemic

The Challenges & Our Response towards the COVID19 Pandemic:

Since the first COVID19 case was announced in Kenya, many people and businesses were affected deeply. Some businesses closed down while others struggled through the pandemic. As Cityscape Trends here are some of the challenges we faced and our Response towards the COVID19 Pandemic.

Physical distancing

This was an extreme challenge for us because our people are vulnerable groups i.e. low income earners; those at the bottom of the pyramid. They live in informal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas and these places are extremely crowded. With this information, our first Response towards the COVID19 Pandemic was to create awareness on: What is coronavirus? How is it transmitted? Why keep social distance and why wear mask? With the above questions we knew how exactly to help our people. As much physical distancing was out of question, we trained on when and how they can wear masks, frequent hand washing and how to wash hands and use of hand sanitizer with alcohol content above 60%.

We provided corporate color coded masks and gave them five masks for 5days with different colors. Weekend also have different colors. We extended our generosity to their families by providing them with masks. We also trained them on how to wear the mask in the correct manner, not wearing them on the forehead or below the chin as most people are doing. Because we believe if their family is safe our people are safe too.

Transport

The cost of transport skyrocketed and our people report to work on a daily basis. The public transport sector is in for money and they might not care about social distancing, providing hand sanitisers and hand washing areas. Earlier the government had issued guidelines for public transport in fighting the COVID 19 pandemic. With time we have seen the public transport dropping the balls and not providing Hand sanitizers and not keeping social distancing. They claim the hand sanitizers are quite expensive and experience losses every day. This poses a health risk to our people which is an invisible missile thrown to them. There are high chances of our people contracting the respiratory COVID 19 virus.

These people are on a minimum wage and public transport is their only means of transport. Their salary might be finished even before the month ends. Some may be forced to walk to work e.g. a walk of 7km from where they stay. This promotes unproductivity at work since they may arrive late and a bit tired.

We decided to introduce a program Cycle to work. That means Cycling to work. This program has several benefits:

  • Reduction in transport costs and help them save especially they are low income earners. This is a huge boost for them and the money can be used to buy food and cater for other essentials.
  • Time management – It will be easier to get to work and arrive on time especially those who used to wake up early.
  • Good health especially in mental health. It improves one’s happiness.
  • Productivity at work – It boosts the energy and creativeness in a person. This enhances productivity at work.
  • Form of exercise. Cycling is a good exercise for the body.
  • Reduction risk of contracting covid19 – They may not come into contact with so many people as compared to public transport

Increase in cost of Cleaning Products

The cost of products skyrocketed and most of them went out of stock because of rush to buy products to kill the virus. Suppliers decided to sell products on cash basis with no credit terms. This affected our daily cash flows.

We started making Do It Yourself Cleaning products that will be able to eliminate the virus following the WHO guidelines. We find it easy to eradicate rhino virus that causes common flus. This virus is complicated to eradicate compared to coronavirus. As long the solution has 60% ethanol it can be able to eradicate coronavirus and it’s safe to use at home and in any environment.

Hydrogen peroxide is also a good solution without diluting it for cleaning any surfaces. That way we are able to help our customers in their workspace to make it safe, eco-friendly, relaxing and giving them peace of mind to concentrate on their core business.

Standard Operating Procedures

With the deadly virus that is everywhere and in every surface that is invisible, no color, odor and spread mysteriously like bush fire, we had to develop some standard operating procedures in order to fight this virus as our Response towards the COVID19 Pandemic..

We developed a checklist to ensure that everybody frequently cleaned the hotspot areas (light switch, telephone heads, keyboard, mouse, desktops, workstations, door handles, staircase rail, toilet flash handles) after every 3hours.

We got a house keeping candy box and separated with color codes i.e. red, green, blue. We did away with plastic bottles and used the reusable ones that is eco friendly. All the cleaning products are kept in one candy box with various cleaning solutions. The red color coded solution is for killing the virus on hotspot areas, green is for the windows and the cloth used to clean is also green and finally blue color coded solution is for polishing of wooden surfaces.

Key takeaways from the SMEs & IOE workshop 2019

SMEs and the Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
A summary of a workshop with SMEs and IOE members on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Key takeaways from the workshop discussion

1. The drivers for SMEs to focus on human rights

For each of the SMEs participating in this workshop, the main motivating factor for their work on human rights was the values instilled in the company by the leadership, who were often the founders of the company. For instance, one CEO commented that at its core, operating with respect for human rights was really about “how you see yourself in the mirror.”
This intrinsic motivation was reinforced, and in some cases re-ignited, by a variety of other concerns. For some, doing business with respect for human rights was seen as the only avenue for a successful business in the long-term. One participant explained how the owners of a small coffee company were driven by their experience of seeing swathes of Guatemalan coffee fields burned by farmers, who felt there was no value in harvesting the crop. This brought home to the business owners the need to invest in a sustainable pricing structure for the sourcing of their main commodity.
A number of business-to-business (B2B) SMEs underlined that the expectations of their business customers added a further rationale to their focus on human rights, with one highlighting that a project on the living wage emanated from a customer’s request. It was the view of another that clients increasingly expect respect for human rights as a baseline and that better performance on this agenda can be the distinguishing factor if a buyer is choosing between two suppliers. Equally, for SMEs competing for a slim supplier base, demonstrating a commitment to listening, empathising and dealing fairly with business partners can cultivate loyalty, particularly in a smallholder farming context.
The engagement and motivation of employees within SMEs further fueled the participants’ commitment to human rights. One participant explained that their company had recently been voted one of the top three businesses to work for in their country in large part due to their work on sustainability. This, in turn, has positive knock-on effects for the business, with a CEO commenting that trusted and empowered workers tend to be more creative and more proactive in managing health and safety risks.
Disasters, such as the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, have made a huge impression on the leadership of some medium-sized companies (as they have for some of their larger counterparts) and had catalysed a number of the participating companies to take a more rigorous approach to managing human rights impacts. Regulation has also played a role in maintaining momentum on human rights for medium-sized companies. The UK Modern Slavery Act’s Transparency in Supply Chains requirement had also served as a tool for one company to sustain the leadership’s attention on a spectrum of human rights issues, not only modern slavery. Another Finnish SME supported the campaign in Finland on mandatory human rights due diligence to establish a level playing field between businesses.
It was suggested that lenders, investors and sourcing firms can do more to reward those SMEs that focus on human rights with increased capital and market access. This point was supported by a business participant’s observation that SMEs – with their inherent flexibility – tend to respond more quickly to take advantage of market incentives than larger companies.

2. Embedding the responsibility to respect: How to maintain your commitment as your business grows

Participants discussed the advantages that SMEs may have over larger businesses in relation to embedding their commitment to human rights throughout the company. With committed leadership and fewer staff, it can be more straightforward to achieve a holistic approach with the relevant functions pointing in the same direction. The governance system for managing human rights issues appeared to be more efficient and relatable and have the direct involvement of senior decision-makers. One participating SME had in place a cross-functional sustainability committee chaired by the CEO to oversee its work on human rights and ethical trade, while another had a human rights working group, comprised of senior directors, which met on a quarterly basis. A medium-sized apparel company explained how the sustainability function was on an equal footing with the buying team, with the person responsible for human rights reporting directly to the Buying and Design Director – something that is often challenging for larger companies in the sector to ensure.
Many SMEs talked of a general company culture that focused on understanding the different family and business backgrounds of vendors, as well as empathy for workers and their empowerment, which lent itself to supporting respect for human rights. SMEs’ relatively reduced resources makes treating their people well, and ensuring employee motivation, of paramount importance. A number of small business owners talked of consciously trying to model the behaviours that they expected of their employees, and of being afforded the platform to do so through frequent opportunities for face-to-face interaction. These leaders treated their employees on a more equal footing, proactively shared problems and challenges they faced and encouraged employee dialogue.
This focus on people, and growing a culture of raising and listening to challenges, was reflected in some of the SMEs’ hiring and teaming strategies. Some medium-sized businesses took the unusual step of hiring staff, who from the start voiced clear expectations, and sometimes concerns, about their companies’ sustainability and human rights performance. To cite one participant: “I was once speaking with a student one day who talked with such disgust that slavery and child labour is in the industry, so I offered her a job.” While inexperienced in business, these (often younger) hires were passionate drivers of the human rights agenda inside the company and provided a helpful counter-perspective to their colleagues who would focus on more traditional business activities.
Many participating SMEs also described feeling remote from formal corporate language and approaches associated with larger firms, as well as abstract human rights terminology. They were accustomed to doing business in simpler, face-to-face and more authentic ways, which had implications for their work on human rights. This could be an asset when developing and embedding a policy commitment on human rights. One participant said that producing a policy statement on human rights initially felt “stale” and “corporate” and was received with suspicion by employees and trusted suppliers. Thus, the way that a policy commitment is written and communicated needs to be in line with the culture and feel of the company, rather than carried out as a dry, top-down, box-ticking exercise. One SME said that “it is not about educating colleagues on human rights from the top down. It’s about dialogue: sharing information and perspectives across the company.” Participants also underscored the importance of carefully articulating the company’s commitments when encouraging employees to treat each other with respect or when communicating its values to business partners. A participant explained that using terms like “human trafficking” failed to engage colleagues, while talking about “treating people respectfully’” or “making stuff responsibly” tended to garner better results. One business talked of its period as a micro startup when the founders – in order to ensure they were working to the right ethos and values – brought their mothers to work to critique the company, asking them “are you proud of this business?” Another SME explained that when it was unsure how to proceed, it returned to the simple question of “what is the best thing to do?”
At times, effectively embedding respect for human rights in an SME may require a robust defense of such a strategy. The CEO of a medium-sized business had to explain to shareholders that, while sourcing their key agricultural commodity with higher social standards would result in a hit to short-term profits, it was still the right thing to do – not least over the long-term. Participating in peer-learning networks helped a number of SMEs to further crystallise their work on human rights within the organisation, helping them to understand how to better manage human rights risks, and supporting them to make the case that maintaining a focus on human rights is important and that any challenges are also common for industry peers.
Participants also described the importance of characteristics, such as persistence, so that the SME retains and steadily grows its focus on human rights amid the daily competitive pressures, including on cost and staff focus, and in rarer situations such as a company re-structure or sale which can lead to sustainability functions getting absorbed into new roles. It is also important when defending the SME’s culture and work on human rights to buyers and financiers who may ask why their product is more expensive than their competitors.

3. Identifying and assessing salient human rights issues

Participating SMEs described various efforts to map their supply chains. While this can seem like a daunting exercise for companies with limited resources, it is often less complex than the challenge faced by large multinationals. As SMEs tend to have fewer suppliers and customers, this can enable deeper relationships with those business partners. Indeed, several SMEs explained how they spent a significant amount of time selecting suppliers that would have the ability and willingness to work with them to meet their expected standards. These stronger relationships facilitated open discussions on identifying risks to people.
One SME with an agricultural supply chain reported that suppliers proactively brought up issues of child labour, rather than claiming full compliance with the buying standards and hiding the problem. This allowed for a more open, partnership approach to this systemic challenge, which is not unique to one firm. In a different sector, an SME was able to rely on the trust they had established to overcome the first-tier suppliers’ initial reticence to share information about their own supply chain. They persuaded their commercial partner that they were not about to source directly further down the supply chain and that they were actually responding to the expectations of their own customers. Another SME in the apparel sector overcame the same first-tier suppliers’ concerns that it would be undercut by a capacity-building programme by stressing that its success relied very much on their relationship and underscoring that every supplier has a unique value-add to the product.

A clear message from participants was that spending months mapping risks across the entire value chain inevitably means a reduction in time, energy and resources to address these risks. Participants explained that, as part of its rigorous analysis, thoughtful prioritisation of business relationships, sourcing countries and supply chains for assessment was crucial to ensure resulting action in a timely manner. Some medium-sized businesses with more experience of managing human rights issues began by taking a broad approach and then zero-ed in on its salient human rights risks by using indicators and dialogue with partners and other stakeholders. One company that had focused on the supply chain for its main commodity had also started to identify and address the human rights risks connected to the uniforms worn by their employees. Another medium-sized agricultural business had also started to assess the risks to people in its packaging supply chain. These examples indicate the potential for SMEs to look for risks in emerging areas, despite the constraints on resources.
The participating businesses discussed different tools deployed to assess risk to people, as opposed to pure risk to business. One SME in the textile sector carried out a form of bespoke auditing, in which they trained certain auditors to better understand the company’s culture. At the same time, there was recognition of the limits of an audit-based approach and the need to augment audit-based tools with direct engagement with suppliers and other stakeholders, particularly in higher risk settings. At the same time, while many of the companies used “certification”, participants felt that where these schemes relied on farmers or suppliers financing their own participation in the scheme, this often meant the intended financial benefits were negated by the cost of participation. Equally, it was noted that certification played into the counter-productive sense of “policing” felt by some suppliers.

4. The creative use of leverage

The concept of leverage is an important part of meeting the responsibility to respect. In the UNGPs, it means the ability of a business enterprise to effect change in the wrongful practices of another party that is causing or contributing to an adverse human rights impact.5 It is often particularly relevant to value chains.
Participants acknowledged that SMEs often lack the concrete commercial leverage of larger multinationals and, therefore, need to think more creatively about how to exercise their influence. One common approach deemed crucial for smaller companies is finding other forms of leverage through partnering with suppliers. One medium-sized apparel business rolled out programmes on freedom of association and worker voice in challenging contexts, despite having less than 5% of the product buy from the targeted suppliers. The business achieved buy-in by explaining the benefits of the programme, and drawing on the trusted relationship it had developed with suppliers, rather than requiring suppliers to participate. In other contexts, the company found that collaborating with several industry peers of a similar size on non-competitive capacity-building was feasible both for retailers and their joint suppliers. Another SME described how setting up its “secondary tier programme” initially required a lot of effort to allay the concerns of its first-tier suppliers, who feared being undercut by the initiative. The SME had to carefully explain that, in fact, the programme would help eliminate those first-tier supplier’s risk by building the capacity of the companies in the tiers below through training and upskilling.

Participants also repeated their experience that in identifying risks, it was crucial to select suppliers aligned with the values espoused by the business in order to have the ability to influence them. A more intensive supplier selection process was judged a key “leverage moment” in the business relationship. One SME also explained that it actively sought fewer suppliers (i.e. 70% of the business came from three main suppliers) who were roughly of the same size as them to ensure they could more easily engage and relate to each other.
Even where the potential for leverage is not considered in the formation of business relationships, there may be ways for SMEs to re-shape those relationships. The owner of one small services company spoke personally with their clients to explain that they needed to re-negotiate contracts at a higher cost to pay higher staff wages, and in several cases was successful in doing so. This sort of willingness to take business risks and to explain the impacts of commercial agreements in human terms can add up to an ability to influence a seemingly resistant – and more powerful – business partner. Moreover, recognising that there was a limit to what one company can do alone, the owner of this business had reached out to industry peers to set up a discussion on how they could collectively commit to certain standards for staff across the industry.
One of the challenges that a number of the SMEs faced was the difficulty in finding NGO partners to collaborate with. Many of the larger, well-known organisations required substantial funding to initiate a relationship and may not be prepared to work in the specific supply chains connected to a company where doing so may not reach a sufficiently high number of people to justify the programmatic intervention.
Another interesting example of leverage was articulated by a medium-sized agricultural business, which opened its high performing suppliers up to the public, other businesses and government to learn about how they were successfully applying their standards. The owner of this business saw this as a natural step: “When you do the right thing and find common sense solutions to problems, then these good news stories will attract the attention of government and others.”

5. Grievance mechanisms

Participants discussed the dual role of operational-level grievance mechanisms in that they can: (a) allow companies to provide or enable remedy when a harm has occurred; and (b) offer insights into issues and trends that need to be addressed as part of a company’s ongoing human rights due diligence process.
The idea of putting in place various different channels for workers, community members and other stakeholders to raise issues with the company resonated more strongly with participants than establishing a single, “one size fits all” mechanism or hotline. The approach needs to be context-specific, with one participant pointing out that in one country, if a worker has an issue then they will call the appropriate government-provided helpline, but in another there is zero trust in such mechanisms.
One participant explained that understanding the point of a grievance mechanism is crucial. If a business puts having zero grievances or complaints as its main aim, then it would instill a closed culture in which grievances are not raised but the issues still exist. Conversely, an open approach to a grievance mechanism means that issues are raised and can be addressed quickly and directly before they escalate.
Another small business owner commented that when workers feel respected, and that their managers understand them, they will raise issues and concerns with them. Creating this culture depends on workers’ awareness of their rights, among other things. This owner introduced WhatsApp groups to disseminate information on workers’ rights, as well as fortnightly employee dialogue meetings without management to encourage peer-to-peer learning and to provide a forum for discussion. Equally importantly, the company introduced emotional intelligence training for managers and those responsible for receiving complaints.
Participants discussed how, in order for affected stakeholders to use a mechanism, they needed to feel that there was little chance of negative repercussions for them in doing so. Participants also agreed that the company should not assume what an appropriate solution to a complaint should be; rather, they ought to engage with the affected stakeholder to fully understand their perspective and mutually agree on remedy, which very often includes something as simple as an apology for the harm caused.
Finally, participants discussed the feasibility of questioning suppliers on the effectiveness of their own mechanisms to receive complaints. It was agreed that simply asking about the existence of such mechanism would not be particularly effective.

6. The most useful support to SMEs to respect human rights

The day closed with a discussion of the types of support SMEs would like to receive to further their work on human rights. The following suggestions were made:
• The State fulfilling its duty to protect human rights (pillar one of the UNGPs). Regular labour inspections were specifically mentioned, as were powers to enforce non-compliance with regulations.
• Government-backed incentives to SMEs that performed well in relation to human rights.
• Public authorities enabling respect for human rights through contracting by ensuring payment on time and at a cost that allowed for the realisation of labor standards.
• The role of employers’ organisations in supporting SMEs to implement the UNGPs through awareness-raising of standards and expectations of business, capacity-building efforts and training, engaging Governments and bridging the work of MNEs and their local suppliers.
• Information on NGOs and external experts that could support SMEs on specific human rights issues in different geographies.
• Peer-learning opportunities for SMEs outside of their country and industry.

International World Earth Day

International  World Earth Day

This year the Day was celebrated online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has been spreading around the world like fire. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged us to act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption

History

The World Earth Day is a special Day marked on 22nd April annually. The Day is celebrated to commemorate the protection of the planet. The day was first celebrated on 22nd April 1970 i.e. 50years down the line in the United States of America. Hundreds of citizens took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for the planet.

Earth Day led to passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many countries soon adopted similar laws, and in 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement into force.

2020 theme

The theme for this year was on Climate Change.

Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. The climate keeps on changing to a dangerous one each and every year. Each individual, corporate and organization need to step up and tackle the climate crisis by the end of 2020. Without much effort we shall be exposing this and next generation to dangerous future.  By the end of 2020, global CO2 emissions need to have dropped by 7.6 per cent  for us to have kept global heating under 1.5oC, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report 2019. At the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

How we are working towards the World Earth Day 2020 theme

PACKING MATERIAL AND PACKING POLICY.

In order to prevent landfill, we came up with a way to package our cleaning products using reusable bottles, before we had plastic bottles that would be bought every other time without care how its disposal hence more and more landfill on the planet earth. With reusable bottles pollution has been reduced.

 

ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING DETERGENT.

Initially we used harmful, toxic, corrosive cleaning products that would cause human health effects such as respiratory infections, corrosive to hands, irritating the eyes and stomach of our stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers) and therefore, because We Believe in our values  by  putting people first, realized those harmful consequences and changed to more environmental friendly and those that can be consumed such as vinegar, bicarbonate soda, rubbing alcohol, carbon peroxide, essential oils, lemon juice, olive oil, dish wash liquids, orange juice, castle soap these are safe for the environment and especially with the current COVID19 Pandemic can eliminate viruses, bacteria, all sorts of infections SARS-CoV-2 that can be found when someone coughs or sneezes in areas at the work place, kitchen, board rooms, washrooms, doors handles, toilet flash handles, computer mouse and heads, key boards, telephone heads, stair case rails, walls, sinks, doors walls,, seat handles, table tops.

REDUCE PRINTING PAPERS.

Embraced electronic printing and use of emails by sending company profile and invoices.

USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY such as sunshine to dry our carpet that we cleaned to avoid too much use of electricity.

USE OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY to reduce pollution such as noise, loose dust particles in our hoofing machinery, also scrubbing machines that can use very little water and detergent hence reducing environmental impact on our environment.

Handling the COVID-19 crisis in the society as a business

Indeed, Covid 19 has demonstrated quite starkly how various business models are quite fragile. At the moment, most enterprises are struggling to protect their workers, ensure business continuity and make decisions in a period of economic uncertainty. This is no easy task, however it provides businesses and other institutions an opportunity to re-examine their purpose and even more importantly its alignment in addressing some of the biggest challenges our societies face today.

How can a company leverage on its unique strengths to serve those most affected by the crisis?

For large organizations, a shared value approach would be to offer services or products that can serve those hardest hit by the crisis e.g. 3M’s increased production of hand sanitizers, masks and respiratory equipment or Uber’s partnerships with restaurants and other food providers to ensure food is delivered seamlessly to those healthcare workers working around the clock.

When it comes to employees, there are some companies that are taking a different approach. Take for example, Walmart providing two weeks pay for full and part time employees diagnosed with Covid19. Or Lyft which is offering financial assistance to employees who get diagnosed with Covid 19.

Creating shared value is about thinking through what core competencies an organization has and then aligning those to dealing with a recurrent social challenge or set of challenges. Ultimately what a sustainable business must do is to look critically at the challenges  everyday ‘man or woman’ face e.g. issues to do with affordable housing, education, access to healthy, affordable food, etc. and how they can leverage their business model to address some of these core challenges. Another crisis I fear going forward could be the effects caused by climate change in the future-businesses should start thinking about tailoring solutions for that one.

Ultimately what business’ must do is to forecast their environment as much as possible taking note of changes in trends and future crises that are likely to occur and then think through how they can address those issues from a strategic perspective.

Finally, there is not an easy way of defining purpose and creating shared value especially when it comes to smaller businesses that are financially constrained. However, with some innovation and collaboration it is possible.