The Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS), a joint initiative of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, sought to build the capacity of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Shenzhen, China, to meet international social and environmental requirements and improve the "soft" competitiveness of the industry. This in turn necessitated an innovative multi-stakeholder project approach that included a wide range of industry and public sector players.
Working with FIAS, we designed the project as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sector partnership including the Municipal Government of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Electronics Industries Association, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (including HP, Microsoft and Intel), and the Global eSustainability Initiative (including Vodafone, Nokia, Motorola and BT). BSR performed field research and a diagnostic assessment including a root cause and cost-benefit analysis. This research included interviews with a range of suppliers, customers, NGOs and government representatives. BSR and FIAS then held a workshop in Shenzhen and published a detailed report in both English and Chinese that included the key findings and recommendations. The strategy includes specific actions that each stakeholder can implement, such as the need for public-private coordination of Chinese supply chain monitoring, and ICT industry collaboration with the government and civil society on capability building. A second-phase pilot project is being developed to test strategies and activities in the two areas most important to the stakeholder groups: worker engagement and management systems.
The recommendations and capacity-building strategy were specifically designed to be relevant and useful for a wide set of stakeholders. Each group now has the underlying information needed to change their own practices and increase the ability of the sector to improve social and environmental conditions in China. The strategy initially focused on Shenzhen because it is a popular sourcing destination for the sector and the city has already taken steps to improve its CSR practices; but the FIAS project will potentially be expanded to other regions once its effectiveness is tested. The report has been widely distributed and received positive feedback from each group of stakeholders, including customers, government, suppliers, and NGOs. The participation of more than 80 stakeholder representatives at the Shenzhen workshop is a testament to the unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration achieved by the FIAS project.