The Environment—A Business Perspective
"Cooperation" to achieve sustainable growth is a reoccurring key focus topic, not only at the recent APEC 2022 meetings but also throughout the dialogues of many other national and global conferences. Of course, the private sector represents an integral part of this. Although 65.8% of businesses already place high importance on environment-related issues, there remains a 0.9% segment that gives zero importance to the issue—a seemingly small figure but a fact that has certainly raised our eyebrows.
The aforementioned statistics come from the "Business of the People Poll" survey project conducted by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce for the APEC Business Advisory Council 2022 (ABAC 2022). Every day, we are constantly reminded of the ongoing effects of global warming, whether it is the recent flooding in Pakistan, Hurricane Ian in the US, or the typhoon in the Philippines. Quite literally, "we are on a highway to climate hell," according to the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. The facts are clear, and businesses must acknowledge this. The first step is not to take action, but, more importantly, to simply come to terms with today's reality to devise an action plan accordingly.
One potential reason certain businesses remain unconvinced about the importance of climate action is inadequate knowledge of the opportunities available. The majority is even applicable to those whose core business is not directly tackling environmental issues. Firstly, consumers nowadays—even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic—are increasingly demanding sustainability, which is reflected in their purchasing decisions. According to Nielsen, 2/3 of millennials are willing to pay more for products and services produced sustainably. New generational talents are next on the list. With 75% of millennials seeking jobs that bring them a sense of purpose regarding People and the Planet, companies that fail to deliver this will struggle to acquire talent that shares the same values and is eager to drive performance.
Lasting change does not come from one grand gesture but is a result of many small collective actions combined. Therefore, this must not be overlooked, whether it be 0.9% or as little as 0.1%. Through fostering better understanding and awareness, or increasing support and collaboration opportunities, all parties must jointly aim for that figure to get as close to zero as possible. With that in mind, taking these actions step by step will have a GREAT impact and move us one step closer to a sustainable future.