Rachel’s Perspective on the National Conference On Sustainability, Climate Change & CSR

Through my eyes: Rachel’s Perspective on the National Conference On Sustainability, Climate Change & CSR

Written by: Loh Rachel, 19, Kuala Lumpur

Pumped and bright-eyed, I woke up excited for the conference on a Thursday morning, my dad who had to drive me there, not so much. Fast forward to the start of the National Conference On Sustainability, Climate Change & CSR, corporates, NGO officials and students were greeted by Prof. Jomo Sundram’s special address on the importance of addressing the issue of climate change where he talked about both the Kyoto Protocol and the COP 21 agreements.

"We need to hold people to the Kyoto Protocol not just COP21 [...] there is no expiry date on the Kyoto Protocol...” - Prof. Jomo Sundram, Tun Hussein Onn Chair, ISIS / former Assistant Director-General, FAO and Assistant Secretary General, UN

“We need to hold people to the Kyoto Protocol not just COP21 […] there is no expiry date on the Kyoto Protocol…” – Prof. Jomo Sundram, Tun Hussein Onn Chair, ISIS / former Assistant Director-General, FAO and Assistant Secretary General, UN

  • Conference: National Conference On Sustainability, Climate Change & CSR
  • Theme: “The SDG’s and Role of Business: Impact on Society”
  • Guest of Honor: YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Date: 28 July 2016, Thursday
  • Venue: Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa

The bulk of the conference revolved around the 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), according to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the important role businesses can play to achieve these goals, You can read more about these Sustainable Development Goals here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs ). The four panel sessions consisted of:

  1. SDG’s and CSR: How Businesses can help achieve the SDG’s – Towards Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the SDG’s
  2. How Businesses can cope with Climate Change – Impact on Business
  3. Sustainability Best Practices – Sharing Best Practices and Success Stories
  4. Partnering with Civil Societies: Making CSR Effective and Impactful for Sustainability
    (The agenda of the conference along with the speakers can be found here.)

Another representative from Power Shift Malaysia, Low Tze Yang, wrote an in-depth evaluation of each of the panel sessions. So, if you are interested in reading what exact content was covered during those sessions, please head on to his evaluation which should be available on this page as well! However, if you are interested in what captivated me the most, please carry on reading.

Most, if not all of the speakers championed going ‘green’ and the advantages of incorporating sustainability as one of the main agendas in a business’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan, such as the founder of Basis Bay sharing the importance of private businesses to consider sustainable practices. Dato’ Ir. (Dr) Lee Yee Cheong was one of the most opinionated speakers of the day, mentioning his support for nuclear energy as the possible alternative to coal in Malaysia. From his perspective as an engineer, it seemed viable, but with the current track records of Malaysia holds for maintenance, the panel had decided that Malaysia and its citizens may not be ready to welcome nuclear energy anytime soon.

“Overcoming unsustainable consumption requires a complete mindset change. It must be the common and urgent campaign of every inhabitant on Earth.” – Dato’ Ir. (Dr) Lee Yee Cheong, Academician / Fellow, Academy of Science Malaysia / Malaysian Chairman, Governing Council, International Science Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) #MuchImpact #RealTalk

Pn. Yasmin Rasyid, Chairperson of the Malaysian Environmental NGO (MENGO), emphasized on the quality of CSR projects and invited private businesses to reconsider the impact they can have on a community with careful planning instead of producing one-off projects that may or may not solve the issues present within that community. It is important to know the problem inside out before one can actually solve it.

"..it's about inspiring a small group of change agents to create a ripple effect.." - Ms. Yasmin Rasyid, Chairman, Malaysian Environmental NGO (MENGO)

“..it’s about inspiring a small group of change agents to create a ripple effect..” – Ms. Yasmin Rasyid, Chairman, Malaysian Environmental NGO (MENGO)

My Opinions on the Conference (aside from the content)

Having had the privilege to attend Climate Change conferences such as ASEAN Power Shift 2015, I am aware that a conference organizing committee can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint and deliver a great conference. Such steps include: serving only vegetarian food, using biodegradable or reusable tableware and providing water stations. Some organizing committees make it a point to hold conferences only at a certified ‘green’ building.

I am not saying that all climate change conferences have to adhere to those standards but there were opportunities for this conference to take certain steps to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, everybody was each given a plastic water bottle where they could have been provided with glasses to refill at water stations.

Moreover, delegates could have been given the option to choose either to have digitalized or hardcopy presentation notes, instead of printing over 20 pages of paper for each delegate.

There were plenty of ways in which they could have made this conference a ‘greener’ one, and I had expected more from them because it was, after all, the National Conference On Sustainability, Climate Change & CSR. #RoomForImprovement #TimeToOffsetMyCarbonFootprint

YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment talking to his colleagues. (Can you spot the plastic water bottle?)

YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment talking to his colleagues. (Can you spot the plastic water bottle?)

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

The main takeaway of the conference is for businesses to know where, when and how to put in your energy for the betterment of the environment, and to find ways to incorporate the SDG’s into their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda. Some prominent examples would be hiring more women into one’s workforce, implementing a recycling culture in a company, or empowering youth leaders with the knowledge and resources that the business specializes in.

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