Weekend reading: on Myanmar, rural China and coal

While I’m out of my routine exploring a relatively new city and meeting many interesting new people, I still keep an eye on anything interesting that pops up online of course. This week I came across a few things I thought are worth sharing.

Due diligence in Myanmar business operations

The Institute for Human Rights and Business published a review of Coca Cola’s report on their Myanmar business operations, which is required by US law currently. I was particularly impressed to read in what way Coca Cola has used this report to describe their due diligence process: how to do business in a high-risk country such as Myanmar while working in line with the company’s internal policies for human rights and other issues.

Both business opportunities in Myanmar and due diligence are important topics in the Netherlands right now. The Social Economic Council will be organizing a conference on how to set up a proper due diligence process within multinational corporations in March, and the Dutch government published their National Action Plan on Human Rights and Business at the end of December. So reading about how a company is successfully putting this in to practice is very interesting – and encouraging!

Life in rural China

I really liked coming across this article earlier this week. It describes a project in China aimed at revitalizing rural China, now that so many people are migrating from the villages to the cities. It shares experiences from the Bishan project where new activities have been started in smaller villages. But, the article also contains links to several Instagram accounts of migrant workers in Beijing, where they share images from their villages when they travel back, such as @Mulanhuangling. Especially timely now that China is getting ready for the spring festival at the end of next week.

The elephant in the room

This afternoon I found this opinion article on CNN by the head of the International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven. In China, the problems with air pollution are well known and one of the main causes – especially in winter – are the coal plants used to generate energy. In this piece, Van der Hoeven has some strong words to say about the necessity to shift away from coal to more sustainable energy options:

When it comes to a sustainable energy profile, we are simply off track — and coal is the elephant in the room.

Good to hear this coming from such a high level. But, when will this lead to any change in world wide energy policies?

China’s soil and food security

And closing off with a China article on food security: huge issue with so many different aspects. This article via UrbaChina touches on the scale of soil contamination and the options the government has to chose from – none of which sound great.

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