Terms of Reference - ESCAP Business Advisory Council (EBAC) and ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN)


SECTION 1
ESCAP BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL (EBAC)

A. Roles and Functions

  1. Provide business perspectives on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region to governments as represented in the legislative bodies of ESCAP, in particular (but not limited to) the Committee on Trade and Investment and the Commission.
  2. Provide advice to the ESCAP secretariat on its programmes and projects.
  3. Assume ownership and determine the strategic direction of the Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF).
    1. Select and decide on the theme and topics to be covered by APBF sessions reflecting the role of business in addressing critical policy issues in the region in support of inclusive, resilient and sustainable development.
    2. Ensure high quality of speakers and participants in each session of the APBF and assume the role of panelists and/or moderators in APBF sessions wherever possible.
    3. Provide overall logistical, hospitality and financial support wherever possible to APBF.
  4. Foster ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN) as an "incubator."

B. Membership

The guidelines, criteria, rights, obligations and other features of membership of EBAC are contained in section 3 of the present document.

EBAC will establish a three-to-five-member Committee on Membership. This Committee considers the nomination of new members on the basis of inputs from individual EBAC members and the EBAC secretariat and advises the Chair of EBAC to invite new members. The Committee on Membership also proposes termination of membership to the Chair based on advice provided by the EBAC secretariat.

C. EBAC Board

EBAC will have a Board that consists of a Chair and Vice Chair. EBAC will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair from its membership every two years at a regular meeting of EBAC. The Chair and Vice Chair provide the necessary technical and coordinating support to EBAC and its secretariat and chair all regular meetings of EBAC. The Chair becomes Honorary Chair [for a period of two years] after his/her term expires. All EBAC sessions are co-chaired by the ESCAP Executive Secretary or Deputy Executive Secretary (or, in their absence, Director of the Trade and Investment Division or director of another substantive division or their designated representative).

D. Management and strategic direction of the Sustainable Business Network

EBAC will set up and provide overall management and guidance to the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN). Within the context of ESBN, EBAC will establish ad-hoc sectoral task forces on important current topics with a limited duration to review and research various issues and undertake policy advocacy, dialogues and capacity building activities within the context of achieving sustainable development as specified by the Sustainable Development Goals. As an interim arrangement until ESBN reaches a certain level of maturity and membership, the progress of sectoral task forces will be reported back to EBAC at its regular meetings.

E. Secretariat

The Trade and Investment Division of ESCAP serves as secretariat to EBAC and ESBN. The secretariat will maintain and update a dedicated webpage of EBAC and ESBN under the ESCAP website: ebac.unescap.org and esbn.unescap.org

F. Venue and frequency of meeting

EBAC will meet in principle twice a year, preferably in Bangkok back-to-back with a legislative body of ESCAP, in principle the Commission and one Committee, such as the Committee on Trade and Investment or APBF. Meetings may be held outside Bangkok subject to the availability of co-sponsorship and funding from EBAC or a local host. In between meetings, discussions among members will take place through email and conference calls.

G. Financing

The cost of operations of the EBAC secretariat is borne by ESCAP. EBAC members attend EBAC meetings at own cost and are fully responsible for bearing the costs of organizing substantive activities within the context of ESBN.


SECTION 2
ESCAP SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS NETWORK (ESBN)

A. Roles and functions

The ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN) was set up by EBAC to promote the active engagement of the business sector in addressing the issues of sustainable and inclusive development in the Asia-Pacific region based on the three sustainability pillars: namely (1) economic pillar, which referred to all aspects of the need for sustained economic growth; (2) environment pillar, which referred to environmental protection and development; and (3) social pillar, which describes the need for poverty reduction and enhanced development of local communities and disadvantaged social groups.

The role of the ESBN is to promote and nurture the concept of inclusive, resilient and sustainable business in the context of environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

ESBN shall undertake the following roles and functions:

  1. Mobilize the business sector in the region across sectors and countries as an active actor in promoting inclusive and sustainable development.
  2. Act as a force of change for businesses in the Asia-Pacific region through highlighting the need for businesses to: (a) adopt responsible and sustainable business practices based on existing global CSR instruments such as the Global Compact, Global Reporting Initiative, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and ISO 26000; (b) adopt monitoring and evaluation procedures for implementing these practices and duly report on progress; (c) engage actively in social and impact investments or, at a minimum, consider the environmental and social impacts of their investment decisions; (d) generally engage actively in promoting inclusive, resilient and sustainable development through public-private partnerships and providing funding or co-financing for development projects, including humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
  3. Be a dialogue partner with governments and voice the perspectives of the business sector on inclusive and sustainable development issues with particular reference to discussing with governments the requirements for an enabling policy environment for the adoption, practice and implementation of corporate sustainability.
  4. Promote cooperation among businesses and facilitate exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences across borders among businesses to identify best practices in adopting responsible and sustainable business practices and global instruments and engaging in social/impact investments.
  5. Assist in resolving issues in the sustainable and inclusive development of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSME) in the Asia-Pacific region in particular in the supply chains of ESBN members.
  6. Contribute to the extent possible to ESCAP organized or sponsored conferences, meetings and events related to sustainability, in particular (but not exclusively) the Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) and its special events, in the form of providing speakers or papers on pertinent issues reflecting the business perspective, recommendations and best practices.
  7. Set up task forces led by EBAC members to focus on specific issues of sustainable and inclusive development in key areas of interest as decided by EBAC.

B. Membership

Membership of ESBN shall comprise EBAC members, ESBN members and advisors. EBAC members will be automatically ESBN members and may join specific task forces at the invitation of the Chair of the relevant task forces. The guidelines, criteria, rights and obligations of ESBN members and advisors are contained in section 3 of the present document.

C. ESBN Task Forces

  1. The functions and tasks of ESBN shall be carried out through designated ad-hoc task forces. EBAC may form task forces within ESBN on important current topics to review various issues and propose actionable options, including dialogues and capacity building activities. Such activities could be conducted at any time of the year with involvement of selected members of the task force. The progress of task forces will be reported back to EBAC and EBAC secretariat.
  2. Task forces shall consist of EBAC members and ESBN members from the business community and non-government organizations active in the area of business and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
  3. EBAC elects the Chair of each ESBN task force from its members who are serving in or assigned to the task force for a two-year term at regular meetings of EBAC. The Chair of each task force provides the necessary technical and coordinating support to the task force, EBAC and EBAC secretariat.
  4. The roles and functions outlined above for the ESBN automatically apply to the task forces under the ESBN in their respective focus areas. Task forces are to conduct policy dialogues, organize capacity building workshops, hold networking events, provide speakers and/or participate at own cost in selected ESCAP/EBAC meetings related to their respective areas, as well as facilitate research in their areas of focus. They would also play important roles in organizing sessions/panels/round table discussions in the APBF. An ESBN task force on preparations for APBF may be established consisting of existing ESBN members.
  5. EBAC task force Chairs are to recruit and mobilize ESBN members who will be the members of their task forces. They will strive, in principle, to achieve gender and geographical balance in the task force membership.
  6. The details of the present task forces are summarized in the Annex contained in this document.

D. Secretariat

ESCAP’s substantive divisions serve as secretariat to the ESBN and its task forces with the Trade and Investment Division providing overall coordinating support as the EBAC secretariat.

The EBAC/ESBN secretariat will maintain an interactive ESBN website for the time being as part of the EBAC website in order to maintain the knowledge and activities of ESBN in the public domain and enable members to engage in moderated public dialogue on pertaining issues, be informed of upcoming activities and relevant studies and publications, and have access to other available relevant information on responsible business practices and corporate sustainability: esbn.unescap.org.

E. Venue and frequency of meeting

By default and for the time being the EBAC meetings and venues will be ESBN meetings and venues. In between sessions, discussions among members will take place through email, an online collaboration platform on the ESBN website, social media and conference calls.

F. Financing

The cost of operations of the EBAC/ESBN secretariat is borne by ESCAP. ESBN members attend ESBN sessions and participate in task force activities at their own cost. In order to recuperate the costs of capacity building activities they organize, participants in such activities may be required to cover their own participation costs related to travel and accommodation. However, no additional fees for participation shall be charged.


SECTION 3
GUIDELINES, CONDITIONS AND CRITERIA FOR EBAC AND EBAC/SBN MEMBERSHIP

A. Membership of EBAC

  1. EBAC members shall meet the following qualifications and conditions:
    1. They are Chief Executive Officer, President, Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Board, or managing director or senior representative of a registered company operating legally in at least one ESCAP member state,
      or
    2. They are managing director or senior representative of a regional, subregional or national subsidiary of a global or regional Multinational Enterprise (MNE) operating in the ESCAP region,
      or
    3. They are the head or director of a department of an MNE or large company specially set up to undertake CSR activities or ensure corporate sustainability,
      or
    4. They are the President, Chairman or senior representative of a national, subregional or regional chamber of commerce and industry or other private sector representative institution,
      or
    5. They are the CEO, President, managing director, or senior representative of a registered company recognized as a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) which is part of a regional value chain and/or employs 50-500 people directly or indirectly,
      and
    6. They represent a company or business-related entity that has met United Nations due diligence requirements and is or aspires to become a UN Global Compact Member.
  2. Representatives of non-business, non-government organizations or non-profit private sector organizations can be considered for EBAC membership on an exceptional basis provided that they are the managing director, President, CEO or Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Board of a well-known national, subregional or regional non-government entity or public-private partnership which undertakes activities aimed at promoting sustainable development with business involvement or promoting responsible/sustainable business, including social enterprise and investment.
  3. Representatives of both private and public business entities are eligible, in principle, for EBAC membership. Representatives of public sector business entities are only eligible for EBAC membership (apart from fulfilling the conditions laid out in the articles above) if their business is for profit and operates on market economic principles.
  4. EBAC member candidates will be screened by the EBAC secretariat which will make a recommendation to the EBAC Membership Committee. The EBAC Membership Committee will review and consider the recommendation and make a decision on accepting the membership application for approval by EBAC at its next meeting.
  5. Individuals are eligible for EBAC membership upon the recommendation of (a) the EBAC secretariat; (b) an EBAC member; (c) Government of an ESCAP member state or associate member state; or upon application. The secretariat and EBAC Membership Committee, in reviewing the recommendation or application for membership, shall apply membership conditions and criteria as set out in articles 1-4 of this document.
  6. Members of the ESBN task forces who are not EBAC members may become members of EBAC upon the recommendation of (a) the EBAC secretariat; (b) an EBAC member; (c) Government of an ESCAP member state or associate member state; or upon application of the member. Typically, such members shall have demonstrated active participation in or contribution to the activities of at least one SBN Task Force for at least one year before their membership in EBAC can be considered.
  7. While there is no strict limit to the number of EBAC members, the target limit is set at 50 members. New members beyond this target will be admitted on an exceptional basis if it can be demonstrated that they are well-known influential business persons or representatives who are willing to contribute to EBAC or ESBN, either financially or in kind.
  8. Priority for EBAC membership will be given to: (a) citizens of countries not yet or underrepresented on EBAC; (b) women; (c) representatives of private sector; (d) ESBN members.
  9. EBAC members agree to (a) undertake all activities within the context of the terms of reference as contained in section 1 of this document; (b) undertake all such activities at their own cost; (b) fully participate in and/or contribute, financially or in kind, to the annual APBF; (c) promote and implement the values and principles of the United Nations; (d) submit a brief annual report to the EBAC secretariat on their activities under article 9 (a) to (c).
  10. EBAC members who have been considered by either the EBAC secretariat or EBAC Chair or Vice Chair to have been inactive for two years or have ceased to meet the criteria of membership as set forth in this document shall be considered for termination of membership by EBAC.
  11. EBAC members are admitted in principle for an initial period of three years which is renewable by another period of three years. After the maximum of 6 years of EBAC membership, EBAC members are free to continue as SBN members for an unlimited period. In exceptional cases and upon the recommendation of EBAC or the secretariat, particularly active EBAC members can extend the period of their membership beyond the maximum period of 6 years.

B. Membership and advisers of ESBN

  1. SBN members shall meet the following qualifications and conditions:
    1. They represent a registered company operating legally in one or more ESCAP member states,
      or
    2. They represent a regional, subregional or national chamber of commerce and industry or other private sector representative institution,
      or
    3. They represent a company or business-related entity that has fulfilled United Nations due diligence criteria, and
    4. They are either UN Global Compact members or strive to become a member.
  2. Representatives of non-business, non-government organizations or non-profit private sector organizations can be considered for SBN membership on an exceptional basis provided that they are represent an officially recognized national, subregional or regional non-government entity or public-private partnership which undertakes activities aimed at promoting sustainable development with business involvement or promoting responsible/sustainable business, including social enterprise and investment.
  3. Representatives of both private and public business entities are eligible, in principle, for SBN membership. Representatives of public sector business entities are only eligible for SBN membership (apart from fulfilling the conditions laid out in the articles above) if their business is for profit and operates on market economic principles.
  4. SBN members can apply to become members of EBAC upon the recommendation of (a) the EBAC secretariat; (b) an EBAC member; (c) Government of an ESCAP member state or associate member state; or upon application of the member. Application for EBAC membership can be submitted through a communication of the applicant to the EBAC secretariat via official letter, fax or email. The EBAC secretariat, in reviewing the application, shall apply EBAC membership conditions and criteria as set out in the relevant articles of this document. Typically, SBN members shall have demonstrated active participation in or contribution to the activities of at least one SBN Task Force for at least one year before their full membership in EBAC can be considered. The EBAC Membership Committee shall review the application or recommendation and make a final decision on accepting or rejecting the application or recommendation for approval by the next EBAC regular session.
  5. SBN member candidates shall be screened by the EBAC secretariat. They shall not be reviewed by the EBAC Membership Committee. ESBN members are not automatically EBAC members but are eligible for EBAC membership in accordance of the provisions of article 15.
  6. The limit to the number of ESBN members is in principle 200 (8 task forces x maximum 25 members per task force). There shall be no limit to the period of ESBN membership.
  7. ESBN members agree to (a) undertake all activities within the framework of the terms of reference as contained in section 2 of this document and at their own cost; (b) fully participate in and/or contribute, financially or in kind to the annual APBF; (c) promote and implement the values and principles of the United Nations; (d) submit a brief annual report to the EBAC secretariat on their activities under article 18 (a) to (c). Common members who fail to comply with the provisions of this article for two consecutive years will be requested to terminate their membership.
  8. ESBN members shall be required to actively participate in the activities of one or more ESBN task forces. Task Force Chairs may terminate membership of a particular ESBN member in his/her task force normally on the basis of failure of the member to participate in the activities of the task force, non-performance or disruptive behaviour.
  9. For as long as EBAC and ESBN sessions will be held in an integrated manner, ESBN members will be permitted to attend EBAC sessions. Both EBAC and ESBN members will meet annually within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Business Forum.
  10. ESBN Task Force Chairs shall be free to appoint advisers to their task forces as they seem fit. Such advisers need to represent entities which are working in the area covered by the particular Task Force and need not be, strictly speaking, from the private sector. Such advisers shall be appointed on an ad-hoc basis for a limited time period and shall not constitute EBAC members or ESBN members. The total number of advisers in each task force should ideally not exceed five. Advisers may attend EBAC meetings only on the invitation of ESBN Task Force Chairs on an exceptional basis.


SECTION 4
MISCELLANEOUS AND INTERIM PROVISIONS

  1. The EBAC/ESBN secretariat shall strive to expand ESBN and to evolve EBAC and ESBN as separate entities in line with their present terms of reference. For the time being, the EBAC Board (Chair and Vice Chair) shall function as the Board of ESBN and ESBN task force Chairs shall submit brief reports to EBAC meetings on the activities and results of their respective task forces. In due time, full reports shall be made at annual ESBN summit meetings as part of the APBF.
  2. ESBN task forces shall not ideally exceed 8 in number Each task force shall not have more than 25 members. Members of ESBN task forces shall comprise EBAC members, SBN members and SBN advisers. Each ESBN task force shall be chaired by an EBAC member in principle, or ESBN member on an exceptional basis.
  3. When ESBN reaches a critical mass of 100 members (including members of EBAC), an annual plenary session of ESBN shall be held as an integral part of the APBF.
  4. The issuance of EBAC membership and ESBN membership cards or other tangible proof of such membership shall be developed in due course for all EBAC and ESBN members and advisers. The rights and obligations associated with EBAC and ESBN membership shall be further developed by the EBAC secretariat and adopted by EBAC as and when appropriate.
  5. The annual reports to be submitted by all EBAC and ESBN members (as set forth in articles 9 and 18 of section 3) shall be prepared in accordance with a format to be distributed by the EBAC secretariat in due time. These reports shall be short and to the point, not exceeding 5 pages.
  6. The provisions laid out in this document shall apply as of 1 June 2015 until further notice.
  7. This document will be reviewed and amended when deemed necessary. Proposals for amendments can be made by: (a) the EBAC secretariat; or (b) an EBAC member. The revised document will be reviewed, considered and adopted by the next scheduled EBAC meeting.

Adopted by EBAC at its 9th meeting on 19 May 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand

Annex
Established Ad-hoc Task Forces under EBAC SBN (as of 19 May 2015)

SBN consists of maximum 8 task forces covering the following substantive areas:

  1. Task Force on Green Business

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID/EDD

    Area of Focus: Optimizing the positive impacts and minimizing the negative impacts of business on the environment.

  2. Task Force on MSMEs & Social Enterprise

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID/SDD

    Area of Focus: Promoting the development of MSMEs and social enterprises for inclusive and sustainable development

  3. Task Force on Disaster Risk Reduction

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID/IDD

    Area of Focus: Promoting responsible business practices to manage and reduce risks associated with man-made and natural disasters

  4. Task Force on Banking and Finance

    Backstopping divisions: TID and (pending) MPDD

    Area of Focus: Promoting the adoption of responsible and sustainable business practices of banks and financial institutions and engage them as partners in achieving sustainable development.

  5. Task Force on Digital Economy

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID/IDD

    Area of Focus: Enhancing competitiveness and connectivity of ESCAP member States and their SMEs , including the development of national, regional and inter-regional value chains, through ICT, online platforms and other digital technologies.

  6. Task Force on Trade and Transport Facilitation

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID/TD

    Area of Focus: Promoting trade and transport facilitation among ESCAP member States

  7. Task Force on Innovation and Competitiveness

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID

    Area of Focus: Improving innovation, design and technology transfer and development of enterprises, with focus on SMEs.

  8. Task Force on Pacific Issues

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID

    Area of Focus: Lead EBAC/SBN activities in/for the Pacific.

  9. Task Force on Preparations for APBF:

    Backstopping ESCAP divisions: TID

    Area of Focus: Provide guidance and in-kind assistance to the organization of the annual APBF.

The detailed terms of reference of the task forces will be developed separately for approval by EBAC.