SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) refers to the UN 2030 agenda released on the 25th of September 2015. A total of 17 goals are stated each focusing on different issues faced by the currect world. (For further reading visit http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) These issues are targeted to be either solved or improved in the coming 29 years with 2030 as the benchmark. The goals are set to be applicable by all countries around the world so everyone could be part of the contribution.
As the title suggests, this conference focuses on goals highly related to sustainability and climate change such as goals 7 to 17. It is important to note that from the implentation of CSR corelating to SDGs, the other goals not mentioned can indirectly be achieved as well.
- Evaluation on: NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABILITY, CLIMATE CHANGE & CSR
- Theme: ”The SDG’s and Role of Business: Impact on Society”
- Date: 28 July 2016
- Venue: Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa
- GOH: YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources & Environment
#PowerShiftMsia is honored to be invited by ASLI (Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute) under MENGO (Malaysian Environmental NGOs) to be part of this insightful one-day conference. The conference’s targeted audiences were corporate and NGOs alike, with the program divided to 4 sessions, each offering different perspectives on viewing the SDGs impact on businesses. All sessions were conducted in a similar fashion, each featuring a 15-20 minutes talk by invited guests and concluded by the moderator.
The sessions were as follow:
- Session 1: SDG’s and CSR: How business can help achieve the SDG’s- Towards public-private partnerships in the SDG’s
- Session 2: How business can cope with climate change – Impact on business
- Session 3: Sustainability best practices – Sharing best practices and success stories
- Session 4: Partnership with civil society: Making CSR effective and impactful for sustainability
The conference started off with a special address by Prof. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Tun Hussein Onn Chair, ISIS/ former Assistant Director- General, FAO and Assistant Secretary General, UN
The opening ceremony was held between session 3 and 4 with a welcome speech by Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer, Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) followed by the opening keynote address by YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
Summary on Session 1: SDG’s and CSR: How business can help achieve the SDG’s- Towards public-private-partnerships in the SDG’s
- Speakers: Datuk K. Yogeesvaran, Mr. Asfaazam Kasbani, Dato’ Daud Ahmad & Dato’Dr. Dionysius Sharma
- Moderator: Tan Sri Ramon Navaratham
Datuk K. Yogeesvaran gave a rather insightful explanation on the 2030 UN goals. As the economic planning unit under the PM’s department, he urged broader participation among the citizens and private sectors. Issues such as poverty, gender equality and things covered should not be overlooked while tackling climatic issues. The knowledge gap should be lower than so that people could discuss on a more equal platform. Datuk mentioned too about the NATO (no action talk only) habit of Malaysians that should certainly be curbed. He personally praised some corporation that has done a good work including NESTLE and SIME DARBY CORP.
The next speaker Mr. Asfaazam Kasbani from UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Malaysia gave insights on climate change information. He mentioned that the 5 climate change tipping points includes reduced agriculture, heightened water insecurity (access to clean water), extreme weather, unbalanced ecosystem and increase of health risks. Mr. Asfaazam reminds the audience on the promise did by prime minister Dato Sri Najib Razak during the previous COP to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by the year 2030.
Dato’ Daud Ahmad as the Group CEO of Cypark Resources Berhad talks about how Cyparks has been aiding in the industry of public-private partnership in relation to the SDG’s standards even before the release of SDGs.
Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, the executive director of WWF Malaysia elaborated on the works of WWF and how it contributes to achieve goals in the SDG’s. Other than that, she emphasised on the change of view and perspectives on natural resources that could change how we value them. For example, trees would be far more valuable if we see them as a carbon storage, recreational, food sources, tourism, healthy soil indicator, employment, natural flood defences and so much more rather than timber for furniture making. The impact towards business was tremendous given sufficient care and protection is given to a certain ecology system. Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma talks about the worrying situation on the decline in global biodiversity, something we really need to look into and take action before further harm is done.
Evaluation: Interesting insights were given by the speakers. I however felt that except for Mr. Asfaazam’s speech, the other speakers did not really touch on the issues on how corporate can help in incorporating SDG’s in their CSR but instead focused too much on how their own corporation helped. As these corporations are very case specific in their way of contribution, eg, Cyparks of skill training and WWF’s aid on natural environment, I can’t help but to feel the lack information on the theme.
Summary on Session 2: How business can cope with climate change – Impact on business
- Speakers: Dato’ Ir. (Dr) Lee Yee Cheong, Dato’ Praba Thiagarajah & Mr. C.K. Tang
- Moderator:Tan Sri Razali Ismail
Dato’ Ir. (Dr) Lee Yee Cheong started off his presentation with the emphasis and explanation of the 17 SDG’s and the 169 target relating to it. He further explored on the root cause of global warming such as the energy utilisation. He continued with a few proposed solution to producing cleaner and more renewable energy such as the solar energy (eg. Sahara desert solar plant) and wind energy (wind turbines installation). He also explored on the possibility of biofuel but obstacles dictates that high lignocellulosic content are much more difficult to breakdown to release energy rich hydro carbon. He talked about the Three Gorges project in China that started of as a flood mitigation project while projecting 22,500 Mw of renewable hydro power annually. Dato’ Lee ended his speech with the opinion that the only proven technology that generates electricity of such scale without greenhouse gas emission is nuclear. He urged the audience to not shut down the possibility of adopting nuclear power plants in the country.
Dato’ Praba started off his session with a simple question of the usage of Google by the audience. According to him, much people rely on google searches in compared to 4-5 years ago, implying the rapid growth in technology and speed of relaying information. He too emphasized the relation and balance between social (people), environment (planet) and economic (profit). In other words, business should never forget about the benefits of the people and the well-being of the environment while striving for their gdp growth. He urged the private sector to conduct sincere & sustainable practices while redefining corporate strategy to align business interests with sustainable practices and to adapt a ‘design to sustainability’ approach in which products and services are designed to minimize waste and green house emissions.
Mr. C.K Tang, the principle of Veritas Environment Sdn. Bhd. decided to talk on more fundamental stuff instead of the usual technical issues he was addressed with. His principle focus on climate change issue was the ocean acidification and the death of wild life. For him, food and water related industry are businesses posed under high risk as they are directly impacted by climate change. Mr. C.K Tang urged the corporate on the floor to take the lead in implanting the idea of green in business practices; encouraging the public and other companies too to take this ore seriously and follow suit. Climate change is both a Crisis and Opportunity. Green leaders may attract free branding and top talents by implementing green solutions. When addressed on the question as to how corporate can build trust in their leadership in environmental initiatives, Mr. C.K Tang strongly suggests corporate to be transparent be it in their bills or working policies.
Evaluation: The idea of implementing nuclear power was intriguing and without doubt caused a small debate among the audiences and Dato Lee Yee Cheong. Two facts was however certain; first, the energy produced by nuclear plants will definitely be cleaner and is renewable, the damage affects only a small area of city, mainly citizens living around it. Second, nuclear power plants require extreme caution in maintaining and highly skilled personnel to operate, quality we certainly lack in Malaysia in view of how most government-led project are handled. Session 2 was overall informative and ideas shared were inspiring.
Summary on Session 3: Sustainability best practices – Sharing best practices and success stories
- Speakers: Ms. Natasha Yap, Dr. Thomas S.K. Tang and Asoc. Prof. Dr. Zainura Zainon Noor
- Moderator: Prof. Leong Choon Heng
Ms. Natasha Yap, as the Associate Director of PWC Consulting Services (M) Sdn Bhd showed various statistic from the analysis of companies world wide and Malaysia on different CSR projects done. After a rather detailed explanation on the statistical analysis, she concluded the talk with few major points crucial to success in best practices including;
- Awareness and understanding on climatic issues and potential damages.
- Leadership from top depending on the system and structure on the corporate.
- Understanding of materiality and relevance, corporate should adapt to the best practices that are suitable to their policy.
- Measure tangible results; giving the public a clearer idea on the results from their effort.
- Not doing things alone. Corporate should help one another and communicate whenever necessary so misunderstandings can be lesser and more work can be done.
Dr. Thomas S.K. Tang first mingled on the topic of needs by corporate including issues like staff needs, corporation reputation and how they can innovate. He then gave a detailed talk on how different fields can adapt to achieving the SDG’s.
- Construction and Property Development, ex: the need to breed new workforce, the adoption of BIM in keeping up with the latest technology, providing products that are affordable and coming up with new methods of construction design; adaptive housing for ageing populations, climate stresses and shocks, natural disaster and urban growth.
- Finance and banking, ex: Align sustainability guidelines with risk management protocols and applying in loan making decisions, banks social partner extended to social causes in the form of micro financing, greater disclosure and transparency in reporting on environmental, social and governance issues , ethical fund and loans.
- Small medium enterprise, ex: Crowd-sourcing potentials, supports and mentoring from big companies, entrepreneurs to seize on social and environmental innovations, challenges of growth and embedding SDGs into core values.
- CSR and beyond, ex: building awareness at board level, operationalizing along the value chain, formulating the business case and doing the less popular things and persevering.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zainura Zainon Noor, the senior lecturer of faculty of chemical and natural resources engineering from UTM demonstrated to the audience on the implementation of green innovation in the school compound including the setting up of segregating bins, the promotion of cycling, green posters around the campus and so on. This could well be introduced to campuses around Malaysia, educating the youths while creating a cleaner school environment. For more info: http://www.utm.my/sustainable/living-lab/
Evaluation: This session was pretty straight forward. Corporates may come up with their own strategies and policies to adapt with the SDGs.
Summary on Session 4: Partnership with civil society: Making CSR effective and impactful for sustainability
- Speakers:Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria and Ms. Yasmin Rasyid
- Moderator: Ir. Ahmad Hadri Haris
Ms. Yasmin Rasyid as the chairperson of MENGO talks about the expectations of NGO on CSR. She hopes that CSR could support NGO in a longer term effort and not only emphasizing on one-time projects which does not really impact the community most of the time. Ms. Yasmin encourage corporates to have their own CSR leader that is well-versed, qualified, passionate, apolitical and academically or experiential trained so that discussion on cooperatons could be made easier. At a perfect condition, CSR leaders can even lead their own company without relying on NGO’s to achieve a more desirable results. She also supports the advancement in NGO-donor relationship so follow ups could be made and corporates may see their effort come to fruit. Corporate partner are too expected to leverage with the level of NGO; understanding the limitations and expectations of the NGO they are about to work with.
Datuk Dr. Denison gave a number of examples on observed success CSR cases in Malaysia including Kampung Acheh in the recovery of mangrove forests. He highly commend the project as the fishermen there are involved themselves in protecting their homeland apart from the constant CSR efforts. Bukit Gumantong set similar milestones by involving the villagers themselves in helping the community.
Evaluation: CSR project can give huge impact on both the corporate and community if a longer-term project is induced and proper relationship between the two is established.
The 17 SDGs an 169 targets of the UN 2030 agenda serves as a guideline to both CSR an NGO in targetting their goals and policy in the coming years. These institutions should be updated and ensure discussions are done on the same page. If all institutions are acted accordingly to the given guidelines, efficiency and productivity boosts are sure to lead Malaysia closer to being a developed country. #PowerShiftMsia takes its usual stand on empowering youth and raising awareness of climate change amongst the youth.
Written by: Low Tze Yang, #PowerShiftMsia