Is sustainability an imperative for businesses in Asia?
A recent gathering of business leaders committed to implementing and promoting social, economic and environmental sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region would say: YES.
The Bursa Malaysia, the stock exchange of Malaysia with just under 1,000 listed companies, hosted the third regional Asia-Pacific Business and Sustainability Council (APBSC) Meeting with the theme ‘Sustainability and Supply Chains in Asia’ in Kuala Lumpur on March 10-11, 2011.
CI organized the two-day meeting to bring together sustainability representatives from 25 international and regional companies from a variety of industries including oil palm, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), chemical, financial services, energy and development.
The meeting opened with an executive dialogue session with Dato’ Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, CEO of Bursa Malaysia; Datuk Mohamed Razeek Hussain, CEO of Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB); and Mr. Peter Vogt, Managing Director of Nestlé Malaysia. The business leaders shared their insights about the global push for supply chain sustainability in South East Asia. MRCB and Nestlé highlighted how their organizations are leading the sustainability movement, while Dato’ Yusli pointed out the critical role that the private sector can play towards ensuring sustainability.
Thirteen companies including McDonald’s, Shell, Medco Energi and Giti Tire presented their sustainability initiatives over the course of the two-day meeting. The other companies also had the opportunity to share innovative strategies to incorporate sustainability throughout the supply chain during the discussion sessions – everything from sustainable land management policies to airport site selection, early certification of plantations and the reformulation of chemicals to make them safer for the environment and people. Several companies highlighted the need to evaluate the costs involved in doing this work versus the ultimate value and benefits created.
Participants also shared knowledge on the many tools that are available to increase the sustainability of their operations and those of their suppliers. Best practices include having a supplier code of conduct and checklist, product traceability, certification, footprinting and even embedding sustainability elements into the key performance indicators (KPIs) of personnel. CI has developed the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) and ARtificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) to help businesses reduce their environment footprints.
The meeting ended with a field trip to a sustainably managed Sime Darby oil palm plantation on Carey Island.
The next APBSC meeting is planned for September 2011 in Hong Kong.