Browsing by Subject "Sustainable Development"

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  • Miller, Cary (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    With a land tenure structure dating back to the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexico is second only to Papua New Guinea in proportion of forest land under community ownership. While many communities have successfully formed community forestry enterprises (CFEs) producing value-added goods and generating income and social benefits for community members, many more remain minimally involved with forest management or do not harvest timber. As such, this study sought to collect and analyze the opinions and experiences of groups and individuals involved in the forest sector, with the aim of providing a greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Mexican forestry model, the most important factors facilitating or undermining the development of CFEs, and opportunities for the advancement of community forestry in the future. This study is based on semi-structured stakeholder interviews which were conducted in four states with members of both harvesting and non-harvesting communities, members of Mexico's National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) and Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), various experts with ties to the forest sector, and foresters serving the communities interviewed. The results indicate that communities face a number of significant developmental challenges. Community organization was found to be an essential internal factor, and successful CFEs have in common a strong internal cohesion and collective decision making capacity, while failure is often linked to indecision, internal divisions, or corruption. Will and ability to invest in the CFE are also crucial, and sources suggested that communities are often impeded by their lack of 'entrepreneurial mentality' when it comes to investment. For those that are interested in investing in the CFE, lack of available capital is often problematic. In part because of these challenges the Mexican forest sector relies largely on obsolete practices and technology, resulting in elevated costs of production relative to foreign competitors, and foreign competition has taken a toll on the industry in Mexico. In some areas declining industrial consumption has made it more difficult for communities to find buyers for forest products and may limit future production potential. The quality of technical services available to the communities is another factor that is both critical and inconsistent, and the important role of private foresters in aiding CFE development was emphasized by a number of sources. Government intervention has also had an important impact on the sector and CONAFOR has played a key role in its development in recent years. On the other hand, forestry is a heavily regulated activity and there appears to be a consensus that regulations could or should be simplified. It was also suggested that government agencies may not have the resources to process the paperwork they demand in a timely manner. Overall, community forestry in Mexico represents an important and environmentally sustainable source of rural livelihoods, and a great deal of potential remains for the expansion of the sector. While some challenges facing CFEs may not have clear solutions, there are some steps that could be taken to improve conditions in the future. Technological advance will be critical if Mexico is to compete on international markets, and there is work to be done both in terms of finance and in promoting 'business mentalities' and investment. Likewise, a thriving forest industry may require strong policy support from the federal government and efforts to ensure that technical services available to communities are adequate. Finally, it will be important to evaluate the regulatory balance between environmental protection and development of the sector moving forward, to create conditions that are both sustainable and conducive to growth.
  • Silvander, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Foreign direct investment (FDI) is considered important for economic growth, and a vital component of sustainable development. To foster the potential benefits, states have concluded thousands of international investment agreements (IIAs). These IIAs are designed to facilitate, promote, and protect FDI, and they often include provisions on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The resolution of investor-state disputes by arbitration has alarmed many scholars since these disputes often entail serious public interest implications. This research aims to contribute to the debate on the sustainability and development impact of ISDS and international investment law from the perspective of labour and employment law and policy. Against this backdrop, the research investigates how the interpretation and application of IIAs may affect labour and employment regulation and policies in host states. A targeted key word search was used to identify cases in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) case law database, followed by a legal review to come down to cases where substantive labour-related claims and arguments have been made. Beyond pinpointing vulnerabilities from the perspective of sustainable development, the case law analysis extends to researching the potential and real impacts of ISDS cases on host states’ domestic labour law and policy, drawing from the world polity theory within the socio-legal discipline. On this basis, recommendations are made in view of improving the sustainability-related outcomes of ISDS and international investment law. The research provides a rich set of findings. First, the research finds that labour-related issues have arisen in six per cent of ICSID cases with publicly available material. Labour-related claims and arguments have also been made in ISDS cases outside of the ICSID framework. Second, the research finds that tribunals have handled such matters with different approaches, ranging from teleological interpretation and “arbitral activism” emphasizing labour rights to literal and narrow interpretation techniques. Tribunals have only to a limited extent applied the provisions of other treaties binding on the disputing parties or general principles of international law. Further, several incoherencies can be identified in the case law. Third, labour-related arguments in ISDS have been made by both investors and host states. Many of the standard IIA provisions have provided the basis for such arguments, including standards of treatment, expropriation and actions tantamount to expropriation, exceptions clauses, preamble clauses and provisions on the definition of an investment, as well as provisions in investor-state agreements. These provisions and related ISDS jurisprudence are analysed in detail in the paper. Fourth, the research finds certain direct impacts of ISDS decisions on host states’ labour and social regulation, while other impacts may be implied, potential or may have appeared in a longer timeframe. Unarguably, ISDS will have had an impact on both state and enterprise spending and, consequently, policies. The case law analysed reconfirms the states’ “right to regulate” in a non-discriminatory manner, implying at times even a highly protected status for national labour laws. At the same time, the research finds various vulnerabilities and risks, including in cases where states use stabilization agreements, as well as where certain standard provisions are included in IIAs without careful framing of their content. Furthermore, the research points to varying ISDS outcomes in terms of labour protection depending on the choice of wording in specific labour-protection related clauses in IIAs. Lastly, different possibilities to improve the sustainable development and labour aspects of IIAs and ISDS are proposed by the research. The following topics are analysed in detail: improved legal basis and guidance, improved institutions, improved inclusiveness of investment policy making as well as international cooperation. The research suggests that sustainability-oriented treaty drafting would be required to improve the expected outcomes of adjudicated cases. Such drafting could take place at bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral level, focusing on clarifying the content and scope of standard IIA provisions, as well as on incorporating specific labour provisions. The research indicates that institutional improvements would be needed particularly at the preventative front at the national level, while also proposing improvements at the level of ISDS. For more balanced FDI promotion, institutions with expertise in labour matters at the national level could be linked to bodies in charge of preventing investment disputes. Improved inclusiveness in investment policy making entails broader consultations and key roles assigned to labour-related bodies in investment policy making. Lastly, international cooperation would be required to deepen technical assistance towards more sustainable IIAs as well as to provide platforms for consensus-building on more sustainable FDI promotion.
  • Tiainen, Josefiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The importance of corporate social responsibility has been increasing among organizations and society. In addition to companies, the requirement of responsibility also applies to the activities of organizations. Responsibility has become a basic requirement and a prerequisite for an organization’s operations to be profitable, sustainable and acceptable. A socially responsible organization operates in a sustainable manner and considers the expectations of its stakeholders in its activities. Today, responsibility involves a great number of conflicting expectations and requirements. The stakeholders are essential in implementing responsibility and further developing organizational activities and operations. The focus of this thesis is to examine responsibility in the activities of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK). The target is to observe the attitudes of forest owners regarding MTK’s responsibility. Thus, the purpose of the study is to find out how the members see the responsibility of MTK and to examine how MTK meets the expectations of its members. A survey carried out in the study provided valuable information for the development of the organization’s responsibility work and their lobbying work. The thesis is a quantitative research. The empirical data was collected as a Webropol survey from MTK forest owners in March and April 2021. The survey was sent to a total of 1000 forest owners and 201 answers were received. The response rate of the study was around 20 %. The SPSS statistic software was used in the analysis of the study. According to the results, the forest owners were satisfied with MTK’s objectives of responsibility and sustainability targets. The organization was seen as an expert and as a competent actor contributing to the vitality of rural areas. In particular, MTK was seen as a responsible organization regarding environmental values. According to the results, forest owners felt that activities promoting responsibility are important. In the objectives of forest ownership, the members emphasized the objectives of recreational use more than the economic objectives. Forest owners felt that activities that promote the growth and health of forests, the prevention of forest damage, the protection of water and the rights of forest owners were extremely important. In the future, MTK should focus on developing its visibility. In its responsibility work, MTK should pay increasing attention to its interaction with its stakeholders. This is also indicated by the fact that only one third of the respondents replied that they knew MTK’s activities well. The objectives requiring the most development are responding to feedback, allowing members to influence decision-making and listening to members’ needs.
  • Lehtinen, Nadja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This Master’s thesis explores sustainability indicators intended for corporations and how conceptual, policy related and methodological aspects are visible in the indicators. Sustainability has gone from being a marginal ecological idea, to a mainstream movement and can today be seen as one of the leading aspirations of the 21th century. Sustainability is apparent in political discussions, business actions and our everyday lives. One of the challenges of sustainability is that there are hundreds of definitions, the term is overused, and new indicators and measurements are created continuously. Based on the aforementioned facts, I wonder if it is even possible to measure this global concept and phenomena that has hundreds of different definitions. However, many definitions of sustainability are similar in the way that they are based on the three pillars: Economy, Environment and Society. The case study explores SDG Compass, which is a collaboration project between the international organizations United Nations (UN), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The project has gathered hundreds of business tools and thousands of business indicators in to a database that can be used by corporations. All the data included in the project are based on the framework of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations in 2015. With a mixed-methods approach I have conducted a thematic content analysis and quantitative analysis focusing on studying the conceptuality, policy relevance and methodology of the data. The aim of the study is to add to the transparency around sustainability indicators and show the complexity of a selection of indicators current indicators intended for businesses. When it comes to conceptuality the analysis showed that the three pillars Economy, Environment and Society are all visible in the data and balanced with equal amounts of indicators. When it comes to policy relevance the analysis showed that private, public and civil society institutions are all visible as indicator issuing organizations in the SDG compass. However, I argue that the role of The UN is the most relevant and powerful when it comes to sustainability indicators. When it comes to methodology the SDG compass data follows the general criterions recognized in the literature as criterions for good indicators, and the results suggests SDG compass indicators are of a high quality.