When the Biden-Harris administration begins on January 20th 2021, it will face a changed landscape in Asia. This landscape has been evolving since the tail end of the Obama administration and throughout the Trump administration. It has evolved in terms of geopolitical relations and the clear growth of great power competition in the region: national reputations have changed—the United States in particular; political alliances have shifted as countries have responded to the changing power, reputation, and attentions; trade and investment flows have continued to evolve, with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) the latest example; and economic development and growth perhaps most impacted by COVID over the past year.  

The impacts of climate change and the imperative coming from investors, activists, and government are accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy and resulting in changing energy choices, energy strategies, and investments. Human rights have in the spotlight due to increased focus driven by modern slavery act legislation, enforcement action, and evolving legal frameworks. COVID as well as various protest movements around the region have highlighted the intersection between human rights, privacy, and digital technology

Within this environment, key aspects of sustainability will be nodes of importance in terms of both competition and collaboration over the coming years. The choices the Biden-Harris administration make and the regional reaction to these choices will impact the region and how businesses navigate these issues. We will explore the following issues and more in BSR’s The Biden Administration and Sustainability in a Changing Asia webinar on Thursday, December 17th at 10am Hong Kong Time.

Whether you are a multinational operating in Asia, an Asian regional conglomerate, or a supplier within a global supply chain, these issues will impact your operations in the coming four years.

  • Climate and Energy Infrastructure: Climate change and the energy transition in Asia will be a point of strategic alignment between the U.S., China, and other countries due to the increasing awareness and focus on the impacts of climate change globally; how this impacts energy infrastructure in the region will be a point of competitive, possibly political pressure as energy choices will be linked to national investment decisions.
  • Human Rights and Technology: Human rights will become bifurcated. Human rights within normal business processes—modern slavery, working conditions, land acquisition, graft and corruption—will grow the consensus for corporate transparency, responsibility, and accountability across the region; the elements of human rights particularly related to social control (digital, surveillance, expression, privacy) will become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate.
  • Business Integration: Navigating this time of change will require business to be nimble, informed with an increasingly sophisticated, and localized point of view to both mitigate risk and seize opportunity. Sustainability will increasingly migrate to the center of corporate strategy and governance.

What’s Next

What choices will face the Biden-Harris administration in relation to each of the above topics? What are pathways forward? How will regional trends influence these pathways? What issues should business be thinking about now as they plan for the shifting landscape? How can sustainable business practices drive a competitive advantage in this environment?

Our upcoming webinar will feature a rich and engaging discussion on these questions and more. Bennett Freeman, Principal, Bennett Freeman Associates, Sara Jane Ahmed, V20 Finance Advisor, V20 Secretariat, Golda Benjamin, Programme Director, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and Hans Vriens, Founder and Managing Partner, Vriens & Partners will join me to unpack this topic and add their considerable insights on Thursday, December 17th at 10am HKT. Please register here if you would like to join.