GRI partners with Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry

Published date: 11 September 2023

Alliance to train 8,000 enterprises in sustainability reporting

GRI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines, to train micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in sustainability best practices, and help them report on their sustainability impacts.

Through this collaboration, GRI and DTI will provide a series of capacity-building sessions on sustainability reporting for MSMEs. They will also convene policy dialogues and roundtable discussions with small businesses on the topic of sustainability in areas such as supply chain management and sustainability procurement.

MSMEs are integral to the economic development and growth of the ASEAN Member States (AMS) as they make up most firms in the region. With around 70 million enterprises in ASEAN, MSMEs contribute 85% to employment, 44.8% to GDP and 18% to national exports of AMS.

There is increasing pressure for MSMEs to become sustainable. Sustainability and green economic growth are moving to the top of the national agenda of the AMS. Countries are issuing national regulations on sustainability reporting and sustainable finance. Global value and supply chains must also meet stricter sustainability requirements.

Eelco van der Enden, CEO of GRI, said:

"We are delighted to sign this MoU with DTI to help MSMEs in the Philippines adopt sustainable practices. These enterprises face size-related resource constraints, skill deficits and knowledge limitations when it comes to sustainability. Many are unaware of the economic benefits of sustainability transition and mistakenly believe that adopting greener practices is technically complex and costly. Our program with DTI aims to address these challenges and help small businesses in the Philippines reap the economic benefits from the use of more efficient and sustainable resources and production techniques, access sustainable finance, meet stakeholder demand for sustainable and responsible businesses, and comply with the increasing sustainability regulatory requirements."

Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona of the DTI-Regional Operations Group said:

“With this effort to complement our existing Green Economic Development (GED) Program, this initiative aims to uplift MSMEs, elevating their commitment to sustainability and guiding their operations along the path of environmental, social, and governance principles. In doing so, we cultivate enterprises primed to attract green finance, tap wider market opportunities, and contribute to the virtuous cycle of a circular economy. Climate action is also a priority of the government as we continuously achieve economic advancement.”

The joint program has a five-year roadmap and will focus initially on training programs to sensitize 8,000 MSMEs in sustainability and its reporting and to support 300 MSMEs to publish their first sustainability report at the end of the program period.

It will conduct capacity-building workshops and support the formulation of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for small businesses in the Philippines as well as spearheading roundtable discussions and policy dialogues with regulators and other key government agencies.

It will also convene an MSME Sustainability Summit bringing together the MSMEs in the Philippines for the enterprises to learn from their peers, and to inspire the rest of the business space in the country and in the region to bring forth inclusive and sustainable development.

Since 2018, GRI with the support of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of Switzerland has provided and continues to provide capacity-building training on sustainability reporting using the GRI Standards to at least 4700 start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam to support and maintain their competitive advantage amidst the growing sustainability mandates at the national and global stage. In July of this year, GRI ASEAN Network launched the Sustainability Reporting for SMEs hosted in the ASEAN SME Academy to reach a wider audience of SMEs in the region.