The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and Ecosphere organised a panel discussion on “The Role of Businesses in protecting Environment and Human Rights” on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. The objective of this discussion was to share Asian and European experiences and challenges faced in the involvement of the private sector in human rights and environment protection, and to give insight into how inter-regional cooperation can strengthen business engagement on these issues. Cooperation between the government and corporate sector for both Asian and European countries to improve such protection, as well as the private engagement in the post-2015 development agenda was also discussed.
This discussion was based on the outcomes of the 13th Seminar, which was held in Copenhagen in October 2013. The 13th Seminar created a platform for over 130 civil society and government participants to identify the need to better involve non-state actors in sustainable development, human rights and environmental protection. In particular, the engagement of private businesses and corporations in these issues remains challenging- not only because of difficulties faced in enforcing environmental and human rights standards on transnational companies but also because of the nature of trans-boundary environmental degradation.