Photo taken on March 27, 2021 shows the Sai Van Bridge with lights on in Macao, south China. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

OPINION – The Challenge of the “Macau Manifesto”

Stephan Rothlin

Macau Ricci Institute

Against all odds I have always considered Macau as a special place to develop Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Why? Macau has a unique legacy of peaceful co-existence and dialogue among different cultures. This cross-cultural atmosphere is often not sufficiently well appreciated but it is crucial in the case of CSR, when it comes to implementing key human values such as honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. The “Macau Manifesto” which is the outcome of a Symposium organized by the Macau Ricci Institute at the University of Saint Joseph last October 2020 that brought together renowned scholars and business people from Macau and around the world—describes three key areas of CSR which enable all actors of society to achieve a more just society based on the principle of human dignity that is the basis for developing cultures of solidarity, mutual respect, entrepreneurial drive and subsidiarity. As the pandemic revealed the growing gap between the rich and the poor the “Macau Manifesto” appeals to key players in Macau and beyond to come up with a reliable roadmap for institutional change.

1) The humanistic track of Subsidiarity Economics

Confucian values of respect, integrity, truthfulness constitute a viable framework of core values. Subsidiarity in reforming economics highlights communitarian solutions and posits that the most effective solutions will emerge from dialogue and voluntary cooperation involving the existing institutions of local communities.

Here are some actions proposed in the “Macau Manifesto” for developing Subsidiarity Economics:

1. Credit Cooperatives: Develop Micro-banking. Microloans can enable the poor to come together in business models which combine social and economic cooperation.

2. Tech developers: Empower the disenfranchised. Innovative examples are already seen in Africa with BitPesa and Kiva Protocol, Africa’s first blockchain and decentralized digital identity implementation.

3. Large companies: Give and invest. Large companies can support accountability structures at every level in the company and enable small communities to overcome social and environmental challenges.

4. Investors: Use ethical or ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investment

Filters in decision-making. Invest in innovation that empowers individuals and communities to establish enterprises that are communitarian in nature and enable communal access to trade and enterprise.

2) The economic track of Common Good Entrepreneurship

A cornerstone of a new approach to business and finance education is a social analysis which in a comprehensive way explores the consequences of individual and institutional decisions and challenges professionals. Such an approach will encourage students and professors to conduct field work in destitute contexts in order to shape a type of responsible leadership which is committed to solving crises and constantly improving business’ response to crises.

A market-oriented economy can only work for the Common Good if the majority of actors in the system are able to restrain baser instincts for greed and over-consumption and choose to both invest and consume in the interests of the Common Good – for the good of all, especially the underprivileged and those without the same power to invest or consume.

Here are actions proposed in the “Macau Manifesto” for developing Common Good Entrepreneurship:

1. For Boards: Transparent Governance: Common good corporate governance requires the practice of transparency, compliance and public accountability to stakeholders and internal leadership competence, balance, commitment and integrity. We call on Boards to be accountable for Total Value Creation: responding to economic, environmental and social governance criteria.

2. For Investors: Ethical and ESG Commitment: Wealth not only creates the economic basis for institutions and people, but also exerts an influence on the structures of a society to address environmental and social impacts.

3. General Management: Action for Social Justice in Supply Chains: Managers should ensure that policies give guidance to employees and suppliers to respect human dignity, social justice and care for ecosystems.

4. Marketing Management: From Consumption to Consummation: Marketers are encouraged to reimagine the role of marketing from driving consumption to enabling consummation, that is, redirecting people’s needs, wants and desires and the processes, products and services that fulfil them.

5. Governments: Regulation and Taxation Enforcement: Governments have a unique role in leading people and industries towards “zero carbon” economies stimulating a massive shift away from dependency on fossil fuels. Governments have failed to keep up with the ingenuity of corporate and individual wealth creators’ tax avoidance regimes which have the effect of removing revenues that would otherwise be taxable through supranational financial transfers.

3) The legal track of Wellbeing For All

Education should reveal the intrinsic link between ethics and law whose main function is to protect the legitimate rights of the most vulnerable in the society. Special attention needs to be paid to create professional legal networks which monitor the implementation of regulatory reform packages and develop professionalism in creating jobs and helping those left behind.

Wellbeing for All offers a vision of solidarity across cultures and borders that sets aside traditional prejudices against others who do not share in our prosperity, whether those prejudices are based on race, creed or colour.

Here are some actions proposed in the “Macau Manifesto” for developing to develop Wellbeing for All:

1. For the Business Enterprises: Become Progressive Social Institutions. Promote wellbeing by adopting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Truly recognise, respect, protect and promote the equal dignity of individuals in every situation.

2.For NGOs: Educate and Innovate. NGOs must develop with multi-stakeholders a more intense level of collaboration to design solutions that meet the wellbeing needs of the poor and the disenfranchised.

It may be a long and bumpy road to travel as Macau once again emerges as a privileged door to China. It is obvious that China has already become a main global driver of economic growth. The “Macau Manifesto” challenges not only Macau and China but all concerned stakeholders to innovate and make sustainable the green economic growth that should become their key strategic priority.