Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 19:35 | SYDNEY
Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 19:35 | SYDNEY

New Voices 2008: Responsibility in a globalised world


Fergus Hanson


23 July 2008 12:58

Every year the Lowy Institute holds its New Voices conference, which is open to engaged early-career people from a variety of backgrounds. It provides a forum for the exchange of insights and ideas on important issues of international policy and facilitates professional cross-pollination. To discuss the ideas the conference will grapple with among a wider audience, this year we thought we'd open up the conference theme for debate on The Interpreter. Reader contributions are welcome.

This year New Voices (which will be held on 31 July) is looking at new areas of responsibility that are emerging as a result of globalisation. One interesting element of this topic is the numerous areas companies have moved to assume responsibility for, on a voluntary basis. You don't have to go far these days to find companies advertising they are carbon neutral or even carbon negative.

But examples go well beyond voluntary attempts at climate change mitigation. Most major Australian banks have signed up to the Equator Principles that aim to ensure that projects they finance are 'socially responsible and reflect sound environmental management practices'. Companies like BHP-Billiton participate in schemes like Tony Blair's Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which 'sets a global standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive'. And governments, industry and civil society underpinned the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme which has played a major role in reducing the trade in blood/conflict diamonds (according to its website from up to 15 per cent of global trade in the 1990s to a fraction of one percent now).

New Voices will also look at the forces driving companies and governments to assume responsibility for the challenges globalisation is throwing up. It will look at the limits of self-regulation, for example, in the field of private military companies and at the mess of overlapping initiatives self-regulation can sometimes produce. The final panel will look at future trends in addressing global challenges.