• Published Date: 06/05/2021
  • by: UNDP

SDGs Impact: Why it Matters for Businesses?

Written by Aphinya Siranart, Head of Exploration, UNDP Thailand

 ‘Business as usual’ is no longer acceptable, and certainly not conducive to the creation of a sustainable future.

The business context has changed significantly in the last decade and is set to change further in the coming years as stakeholders bring their growing influence to bear. Consumers, employees, and other stakeholders, especially millennials, are becoming even more environmentally and socially conscious. Not only are they increasingly holding companies to account for their performance on various socioeconomic issues, but they are also voicing their expectations for companies to contribute to solve the most complex challenges of our time in view of supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The markets of tomorrow are defined by the SDGs, because they are focused on the challenges that, together with the business world, we can turn into solutions, and therefore markets for technology, for investment, for new business models.”

– Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Program (2018)

The differing needs and values of all stakeholders demand management to adopt a wider perspective of growth, which goes beyond increased output and short-term financial returns. Recognizing that they will not succeed in failed societies, companies are balancing economic gains with social and environmental returns while also striving for an inclusive, sustainable, and long-term growth that benefits everyone – consumers, employees, supplies, shareholders, and communities alike.

By doing so, companies are not really sacrificing performance. In fact, they can do well while doing good. Many studies have found positive correlations between superior financial performance and commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.[1] Researchers at Harvard Business School found that companies with processes in place since the early 1990s to measure, manage, and communicate performance on ESG issues outperformed a carefully matched control group over the next 18 years.[2] A 2017 study by Nordea Equity Research reported that from 2012 to 2015, companies with the highest ESG ratings outperformed the lowest-rated firms by as much as 40%.[3]

“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential

– Larry Fink, CEO, Blackrock (2018)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the private sector in supporting the achievement of sustainable human development is even more imperative today than ever before. It presents a unique opportunity for businesses to step up and turn this crisis into an impetus to achieve the SDGs. As a main source of employment and investment, the business sector plays a crucial role in efforts to protect their employees, contribute to a clean environment, support the vulnerable people, and facilitate business continuity for an inclusive, green and sustainable recovery

With these changing business environments, profits alone are no longer the measure of success and businesses must increasingly engage in sustainability reporting and impact measurement and management to improve performance, account for impact and publicly communicate sustainability data. While sustainability reporting and impact measurement both drive companies to improve performance and be more transparent, they have arisen in distinct contexts and have differences in their approach and focus.

A sustainability report is “a report published by a company or organization about the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by its everyday activities. It presents the organization’s values and governance model, and demonstrates the link between its strategy and its commitment to a sustainable global economy.” (Global Reporting Initiative: GRI) Sustainability reporting enables organizations to identify their impact on the economy, environment, and society and disclose them in accordance with a globally accepted standard.

From ESG to SDGs : Integrating SDGs Impact Measurement and Management Framework in Business and Investment Strategies

It is encouraging to see many Thai business having sustainability strategies, policies and codes of conduct in place with good ESG disclosure practices. While ESG guidelines provide a good starting point for sustainable business, it is not enough to help unlock the enormous potential of the private sector as a driver of positive social impact. The taxonomy is weak and the criteria for sustainability lens are not ambitious enough. ESG frameworks have focused mainly on policies and processes and provided basic reporting whether qualitatively or through a selection of ESG related KPIs. It gives minimal directions, especially for investors, to measure impact as well as track and compare progress between different companies. McKinsey’s survey revealed that investors believe that “they cannot readily use companies’ sustainability disclosures to inform investment decisions and advice accurately.”[4]

On the other hand, being an impactful sustainable business means fully integrating sustainability into the business strategy, operations, stakeholder engagement and supply chain management and hence the need for companies to properly conducting impact measurement and management (IMM). IMM allows companies to demonstrate and communicate impact and to make sure they are on mission rather than just for compliance or transparency.

So what is Impact Measurement and Management (IMM)?

According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), “Impact Measurement and Management includes identifying and considering the positive and negative effects one’s business actions have on people and the planet, and then figuring out ways to mitigate the negative and maximize the positive in alignment with one’s goals”.

One of the defining challenges for impact practitioners has been the question of what, exactly, “impact” means and how best to deliver it. Without clear answers, it creates a source of inefficiency and misalignment between different players from beneficiaries to enterprises to financial intermediaries and to the owners of capital.

SDGs as a reference framework for Measuring and Managing impact

Back in 2015, the United Nations’ adoption of SDGs as a global vision for sustainable development was an absolute game changer in this field. Not only that the SDGs provide globally agreed definitions and disciplines for setting impact goals and tracking progress against them, but they also give businesses the targets they need to achieve concrete, positive impacts that truly leave no one behind. Consequently, we have seen more and more businesses start thinking of their impact in terms of contributions towards achieving the SDGs.

 “Business is a vital partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies can contribute through their core activities, and we ask companies everywhere to assess their impact, set ambitious goals and communicate transparently about the results.”

– Ban Ki-moon, Former United Nations Secretary-General (2015)

Impact in the context of SDGs is increasingly becoming an integral component in business decision making along with revenue and risk considerations. Just as financial reporting is essential for companies to inform their strategies, measuring and managing the SDG impact of a company is becoming relevant as stakeholders, other than shareholders, pursue higher standards of responsibility and accountability from businesses.

Beyond the need to heed society’s call for increased transparency and accountability, blending purpose with profit and integrating SDG impact measurement and management framework into business operations and strategies can provide companies with several benefits as follows:

  • Unlocking new business opportunities: The framework can help businesses identify new market segments, spot unmet customer needs, and as a result, develop and refine product and services offerings that are better tailored to customers’ needs. For example, by adopting such an IMM approach with the support from UNDP Business Call to Action, Thailand based social enterprise, Hilltribe Organics – a subsidiary of major organic food producer Urmatt Ltd., was able to identify a demand for organic egg.[5] Hilltribe has become the number one organic egg brand in Thailand and is now sold in major supermarkets as well as high-end restaurants and hotels. The enterprise is on the path to scaling up its inclusive business model by integrating more indigenous communities across Thailand into its agricultural value chain, thereby opening up new sources of revenue for its business as well as creating additional off-farm employment in food production.
  • Marketing and reputational building: Impact data allow businesses to better understand their customers, create more effective marketing campaigns, and as a result, increase customer engagement. Plan B Media, Thailand’s biggest outdoor media company, is committed to sustainable marketing strategies and creating business value by meeting stakeholders’ expectations. Acknowledging that digital media need to go beyond providing advertising and include content for public benefits, Plan B is partnering with UNDP to launch a series of campaigns that further the SDGs in Thailand such as ending violence against women and combating single use plastics.[6]
  • Strategic alignment and risk mitigation: The practice can ensure that companies’ activities are aligned with their mission and strategy as well as help identify risks that relate to both impact and financial concerns early on, thereby offering businesses an opportunity to correct action and prevent losses.
Getting Started: Using Business Call to Action’s Impact Lab to measure and manage your impact

IMM can be challenging if companies have never done it before and have no clue where to start. However, by realizing various benefits that IMM may bring, UNDP, through its Business Call to Action (BctA) initiative, has developed an online Impact Lab to support companies to effectively measure and manage their impact on the SDGs.[7] The Lab goes through the full impact management process over four self-paced modules that guide companies from assessing impact measurement readiness; planning for measuring impact and designing an impact framework; monitoring impact data; to analysing and reporting impact data. Through a step by step process, companies can define their Impact Value Chain linking business operations to the SDGs, designing their own SDG impact framework with a plan for collecting data that will allow them to measure, manage and communicate their impact.

About UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations’ global development network. UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. Through assisting countries to align private sector activities and investments with the 2030 Agenda, UNDP has a long history of working successfully with companies from various sectors including energy, food and agriculture, consumer products, finance and information technology, in support of sustainable development.

In Thailand, our collaboration with the private sector takes various forms:

  • Facilitate discussions between public and private sector and the civil society on a specific development theme or industry sector;
  • Find solutions for development challenges through core business activities and initiatives that include low-income groups into value chains as producers, suppliers, employees and consumers;
  • Mobilize private sector financial and in-kind resources for sustainable development solutions;
  • Leverage innovative financing and partnerships solutions to mobilize private capital for the implementation of the SDGs;
  • Provide businesses and investors with the insights and tools they need to measure, manage, and authenticate their contributions toward achieving the SDGs.

For more information, please contact Ms. Aphinya Siranart, Head of Exploration at aphinya.siranart@undp.org

[1] Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim, Aaron Yoon, Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality. The Accounting Review (2016) 91 (6): 1697–1724.

[2] Eccles, Robert G. and Ioannou, Ioannis and Serafeim, George, The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance (December 23, 2014). Management Science, Volume 60, Issue 11, pp. 2835-2857, February 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1964011 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1964011


[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/more-than-values-the-value-based-sustainability-reporting-that-investors-want

[5] https://www.businesscalltoaction.org/member/urmatt-ltd-hilltribe-organics

[6] https://www.th.undp.org/content/thailand/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2019/undp-unveils-nationwide-campaign-to-combat-single-use-plastics–.html

[7] https://www.businesscalltoaction.org/


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  • Published Date: 02/12/2020
  • by: UNDP

Learning journey of Youth Co:Lab 2020

Experienced by youth, Initiated by youth, and the solutions by youth is the idea of the Youth Co:Lab, the always sphere for youth to create social innovation.

​The severe global issues, the pandemic of the COVID-19, have made it easy for the organizer to select the theme that fits the society’s current challenges. The theme, the COVID-19 Recovery, has been initiated regarding the questionnaire responded by the youths across Thailand concerning their challenges during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Relatively, the sub-themes on social issues cover educational problems, economic challenges, mental illness, and gendered domestic violence.

​The whole process of Youth Co:Lab consumed several months, the situation of the pandemic of the COVID-19 has been changed. During the preparation stage of the program, the pandemic of the COVID-19 was severe in Thailand. In contrast, the situation has become better on the workshop day. However, the seemingly better circumstances on the pandemic of the COVID- 19 in Thailand do not affect the program’s selected theme as there are collective issues youths have faced regardless the COVID-19 situation. However, the pandemic of the COVID-19 and the new normal did accelerate and insist on the crucial demands to tackle these social issues.

The insights on the social issues during the development process of their project has become crucial to improve and advance their project. Most significantly, the program also aims to bring together all those new generations that share similar interests on social challenges as done by all previous programs. Therefore, this article is to conclude the lesson learned that made this year’s Youth Co:Lab program successful.


Online Classroom

Learning from the experiences of organizing the previous years’ Youth Co:Lab, the staff acknowledges that the three-day program was tense and intensive for the participant to learn, develop and pitch the project under the time limitation. Thus, it was hard to expect for an obvious learning curve. The organizers, therefore, have frequently been discussing and considering organizing the program online in order to lengthen the learning period. Responsively, this year is the first year that the Youth Co:Lab has been organized online.

The increasing use of online channels for learning and meeting purposes has become normalized during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Therefore, there are possibilities to change from organizing the physical workshop to the online one. This online workshop allows us to provide more inclusive information and learning materials to the participants. The program consists of a four-day online workshop and the physical workshop of two and a half-day. As a result, the participants have an opportunity to pitch their projects that they have been developing for the entire period of almost two months.

​The result of the online workshop is worthwhile, while there are some disadvantages. On one hand, the online channel offers more intensive content of the workshop. On the contrary, the organizers are aware that participants might feel more comfortable and safer to interact and exchange in person than online. However, it is found that hosting the workshop online and extending the workshop time allows the participants to feel safe to engage with each other. The continuity of the workshop eventually enhances the participants to interact, discuss, and share. The friendships, the shared interests, and commitment to transform to a better society even more greatly contribute to the relation of the participants overcoming the disadvantages of the online.

However, the online channel could not be in replacement for the in-person workshop. The organizers, therefore, decided to hold a physical workshop at the end of the programme to create a sphere for participants to exchange their interests and information, to draw out the lesson learned from the workshop and present their project that is developed according to what they have discussed and learned from the both online and offline workshop.

One more advantage of hosting the workshop online is that all the information and resources have been collected online, reducing the unnecessary repetitions of data collection. The online workshop, in addition, portrays more concrete improvement and commitment of all participants.



All support is Ready

Before the workshop starts, the organizing team has contacted the experts on several social issues to share their insights, their expertise, and to reflect on the projects, so the participants can advance their projects to be more efficient. Sanon Wangsrangboon, Co-founder of  Locall, has provided the suggestion on the employment creation in the restaurant industry during the pandemic of the COVID – 19. Dr. Rangsan Wiboonuppatum, an education officer from UNICEF, also provided consultations on educational innovation in the workshop.

​This year is the first year that the workshop has been supported by the Youth Co:Lab alumni to be the mentors or supporters for each group. The mentors are responsible for answering any possible questions that the participants might have, providing suggestions, and strengthening the group project.

One of the mentors who was a participant from last year Youth Co:Lab revealed that while helping and providing suggestions to improve the project, it is an opportunity to learn the more updated innovation, which is more intensive and different from last year.


What’s inside the online workshop?

Thank you to HandUp Network and ChangeFusion to help us facilitate in the processes of the four-week online workshop. In the first week, along with the ice-breaking activities to enhance the engagement and learning environment, participants have a chance to meet and introduce themselves. The first classroom’s main objective is to provide an understanding of the problems that their solutions are to be solved.

​The tool, problem tree, used to create an understanding of the problems does not provide only the current situations that the team is interested in but also the understanding of the root of the problems and a well-rounded understanding of their impacts.

After seeing through the problems, each group of participants was assigned to do the stakeholder mappings and figure out what each stakeholder does. This step helps the participants to appropriately situate themselves in the problem nexus and focus on the main problem.

​The session ends with solidating the problem statement to clearly define the territory of the project that each group is coping with.

​The first-day online class is very intensive and strict with a short break. The reflection on the program has been used to improve the next class to be more flexible.  

​The second online workshop is about ideation. Because all the team has already prepared their ideas since their application, the session focuses more on revising their ideas, finding pros and cons, and identifying the significance of their innovation.

​To make the participant not too exhausted with their project, the Ice Breaking activities have focused more on the interaction and share information of the participants on general topics so that they can be away from the central theme of their work for a short while.

​The third online class is about learning business plan through the Business Model Canvas. The content is sophisticated and complicated, so the session’s central idea is to remind the participants not to forget the business side of the innovation, which will ensure the creation of the innovation and sustain the innovation.

​When each team has a clear picture of the problem, finds some ideas to solve the problem, and recognizes the importance of the business part, the last online class discusses the social impacts under the Theory of Change.

Once each team can identify their expected social impact, each team is asked to make a reverse plan from one-year estimated outcomes to six months and provide more details on milestone activities and action plans that will bring success to the project.

​The online workshop does only aim for providing inputs to develop an innovative project for each team, but to build the social transformer network of the youth. During the workshop, the political movement in Thailand is very intense. Therefore, the organizing team provides the space for discussing the current situation under the safe and respectful environment to express opinions. The organizing team believes that creating social innovation while ignoring the current social issues may be unavailing.

Our First Meet

One of the purposes of the Youth Co:Lab is to create a network between participants, supporters, and all stakeholders.

​Even though the learning session about the tool used in developing innovation has been completed online, the meeting and exchange in person have been performed. This is the purpose of the organizers to bring all participants to meet in person.

​Almost all the participants agreed that meeting all the workshop participants in person is the most impressive part. Participants meet with diverse groups of people such as Pkakenyaw from Mae Hong Sorn province, Muslim youth from the three-southeast provinces of Thailand, and youth from the central part of Thailand. All the participants have different skills and interests so that they can share their views and experiences. This helps to broaden their viewpoints and to learn about different cultural contexts and backgrounds.

Ideas Become True

​During the meeting between the participants, the organizer team has invited the Social Entrepreneurs who have succeeded in business and created the social impact to share their experiences to inspire and become the participant’s motivation to continue their project. Some of the social entrepreneurs are the alumni of the Youth Co:Lab, such as Thanakorn Promyot, the co-founder of Yonghappy (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2017), and Sarocha Tiansri, co-founder of Pa’ Learn (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2019).  

​Before the last day of the program, each team reviewed the status of their projects and learned about the SDGs where each team got to apply the concept of inclusive society to their projects as well as considering the economic, social, and environmental impacts. Even though the SDGs are not obligated in this presentation, it increases each team’s awareness to review their project, whether it leads to sustainable and inclusive transformation.

​One of the participants mentioned that the session on SDGs is one of the most impressive sessions because it helps to broaden the direction of the project and find the possibility of the project to be more inclusive.


Project Presentation

The end of the first phase is when the participants pitched their project to the committee and other participants. The presentation provided crucial information to help the audiences understand and find social innovation, which has been eagerly developed during the program with the challenges on time limitation, beneficial.

Before presenting the project, issues that should be included, and examples of the effective presentation methods and strategies have been suggested. The suggestions will be only the guides that the participants can adopt, apply and design if they fit with their innovations. The presentation is not only for the contest, but the organizers hope that it will be an excellent opportunity for the participants to narrate the problems that they or their relatives or friends experience in their everyday lives. The organizers also hope that the participants can summarize the ideas and knowledge from the workshop and share it with other participants.  

All ten team have developed their projects, and they have their work plan ready to be implemented and eventually, achieve their goals. Even though only five out of ten teams will receive the funds to trial their project for three months, it does not mean that all the team will gain nothing from their work developed along with the program. They are able to further their projects in several ways, such as making a prototype from their idea, finding a new partner in the program to proceed with their projects, or making a proposal to the other activities or other opening opportunities.


This project could not be successful without the collaboration from the enthusiastic youth who apply for this program. We are thankful for our partners, Citi Foundation, UNICEF,Thailand Institute of Justice, True Incube, and the National Innovation Agency (NIA) for their collaboration on organizing the program, providing multidiscipline knowledge to the participants. We are very grateful to the facilitators from the Hand Up Network and the Changefusion for their hard work on instructing and supporting all ten teams throughout the program.

What are the stories behind the five selected team, who will benefit from their innovation, and how will the innovation solve these particular social problems? It will be narrated in the next articles. Please stay tuned!


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  • Published Date: 05/08/2020
  • by: UNDP

Young People, Economy, and the COVID-19: The Economic Crisis Expanding to Multi-dimension Difficulties of Youth Life


“More than 8 in 10 children and young people in Thailand said they were anxious that the COVID-19 pandemic would affect their household income.”

“23 percent of young people  who either had  permanent jobs  or worked part-time is reported unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” This is the fact collected from more than 6,000 children and young people aged under 30 years old across Thailand on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA.

These concerns and effects resulted from the lockdown and the curfew policy in coping with the novel Coronavirus. The adverse consequences of the policies are the impacts on the economy. A large number of people could not run their business or resume work as previously.

The financial burden has been aggravated by being forced to stay at home where the cost of living has been increased, whereas the income decreased.

The economic responsibility and instability have been recognized by self-financed young people and those who receive financial support from parents.

The economic instability issues young people have experienced are as follows.


  1. Young People in a Lower-income Family

The data from the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) informs that the unemployment rate increases to 1.03 percent in the first quarter of this year. Furthermore, there is a 17.7 percent increase in disguised unemployment, which refers to 448,050 workforces being unemployed in the same period. We could not claim that these circumstances are purely the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since the COVID 19 has just been starting in the first quarter. However, the NESDC estimates that this pandemic possibly causes a total of 8.4 million people to be laid off.

For children and young people, because the semester has been postponed, with more time spending at home, their living expenses including lunch cost, have been borne by the family. The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) addresses that the postponement of the semester does affect not only the continuity of education and learning process but also the opportunity to access nutrient-rich food.

More importantly, the EEF highlights the economic challenges as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will leave some students behind from the education system, especially students from lower-income families. They might not be able to pay for the educational fee during this economic difficulty. Some young people have to work in order to maintain their family’s economic situation. Eventually, the economic issues during the pandemic of the COVID-19 possibly include the long-term change of their future.


  1. Young People with A part-time job or Self-financed

For children, youth, and some students, working part-time is their primary income serving for their cost living. Many young people do not receive financial support from their families for such a long time. It is incredibly uncomfortable to request financial support from their family in the situation where everyone is affected.

Similar to a secondary student in Bangkok, who has responded to a survey from UNICEF, she is among the 23 percent of those who had worked and been laid off. She mentioned that she had worked in a restaurant, but becoming unemployed during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Her family also does not have any income. She hesitates to request support from her parents because she would not like to become their burden. She hopes that the government will allocate some financial support, which might not be a large amount but adequate for surviving.

Correspondingly, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Thailand reveals that globally, the laid-off group and the more vulnerable group are the workforce aged at 15 – 24 years old because almost  both of them work in the business that has been dramatically affected by the pandemic of the COVID-19. Moreover, they frequently work in the informal sector and without any welfare from being dismissed. In Thailand, there is a financial compensation campaign allocating 5,000 baht for the workforce that has been affected by the COVID-19. This compensation covers some informal labours with a condition of aging above 18 years old.

More importantly, the survey from UNICEF states that some young people request their partial education fee and related fee back due to their less accessibility to institutions’ resources in which they have already paid for the fee earlier.  Getting this partial education fee back will mitigate the financial instability issues that lots of them have currently been suffering.


  1. New Graduate Young People

The NESDC explains that 520,000 million new graduates are seeking to enter the labor market this mid-year.

Even though many businesses have reopened after the situation of the COVID-19 has been relieved. It is becoming clear that the circumstance has changed. The need for new employees is less. Moreover, aiming to keep the company running, some companies have dismissed their employees to reduce the cost. Hence, there is some workforce in between the jobs. The current situation has put new graduates with less working experience in a difficult position.

For many youths in Thai families, if the youth has not been self-responsible for their finance, the graduation usually is the designated time that they start fully responsible for their finance. This might lead to more anxiety for young people.

Moreover, if this group of youth is unable to find jobs within 1-2 years after graduation, they might face more difficulty entering the labor market as employers tend to hire the very newly graduated persons or those who have more skills and experiences.








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There are many innovation platforms all over the world. What makes Thailand Social Innovation Platform unique is that we have created a Thai platform fully dedicated to the SDGs, where social innovators in Thailand can access a unique eco system of entrepreneurs, corporations, start-ups, universities, foundations, non-profits, investors, etc. This platform thus seeks to strengthen the social innovation ecosystem in Thailand in order to better be able to achieve the SDGs. Even though a lot of great work within the field of social innovation in Thailand is already happening, the area lacks a central organizing entity that can successfully engage and unify the disparate social innovation initiatives taking place in the country.

This innovation platform guides you through innovative projects in Thailand, which address the SDGs. It furthermore presents how these projects are addressing the SDGs.

Aside from mapping cutting-edge innovation in Thailand, this platform aims to help businesses, entrepreneurs, governments, students, universities, investors and others to connect with new partners, projects and markets to foster more partnerships for the SDGs and a greener and fairer world by 2030.

The ultimate goal of the platform is to create a space for people and businesses in Thailand with an interest in social innovation to visit on a regular basis whether they are looking for inspiration, new partnerships, ideas for school projects, or something else.

We are constantly on the lookout for more outstanding social innovation projects in Thailand. Please help us out and submit your own or your favorite solutions here

Read more

  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?
  • UNDP and TSIP’s Principles Of Innovation
  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?


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