World

ASEAN business must focus
on sustainability

Sustainable development could be low-hanging fruit for companies operating in Southeast Asia, a forum was told on Monday.

Peter Bakker, from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development said that if companies started sustainable businesses they would find “low-hanging fruit, as sustainable development is not only green, but is also efficient”.

”There is an increasingly important role for people, particularly businesses, in how well we engage in the fight to implement sustainable development, as witnessed by the greater participation of business leaders at Rio+20,” he told the ASEAN Sustainable Development Symposium in Bangkok on Monday.

While sustainability is not a new concept for business, progress has been questionable.

Bakker said the core issues were outlined in 1970 by the Club of Rome, the 1992 Rio Summit and the Rio+20 meeting. “However, the same agenda items and issues from the 1970 are still here.”

Bakker urged ASEAN member nations to act instead of arguing about climate change. “Short-term economic pressures are up due to droughts and bankruptcy, weather patterns are shifting and social tensions are increasing.”

Business solutions are available for sustainable development. “There is micro-irrigation, effective water management and renewable energy, as well as low-carbon growth in India,” Bakker said. “Businesses can scale up such measures.”

Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong urged stakeholders at the conference to “try to win this war to achieve sustainable development goals together”.

Business solutions are available for sustainable development

Supachai Panitchapakdi from the UN Conference on Trade and Development said he agreed that sometimes sustainable development had more to do with people, not regulations and policies.

Kan Trakulhoon, the CEO of SCG, which organized the conference, said he hoped that the event could create a network to prompt communities to become more active in sustainable development.

“In the past, community social responsibility programs gave us a good image. But now, it’s sustainable development that is more important as it gives something to the community,” he said.

“We want every company in ASEAN to commit [to sustainable development], because this is for the future of our planet.”

Bakker congratulated SCG for its recognition as the world sector leader in the building materials & fixtures category in the Dow Jones Stock Index (DJSI).

The DSJI is a set of indices comprising 2,500 large companies selected as meeting criteria, including for sustainable development performance.

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