From Surviving to Thriving: How Sustainable Business Will Shape Our Future

GlobeScan’s Hong Kong Salon Event hosted in partnership with The Executive Center, brought together leading experts, thought leaders, and professionals in the field of sustainability to explore the vital role that sustainable business practice will play in shaping our future.

Victoria Gilbert, GlobeScan Director, Asia Pacific kicked off the event with a presentation on the latest findings from the 2023 Sustainability Leaders Survey, by GlobeScan and The SustainAbility Institute by ERM.  She highlighted the most urgent sustainability challenges, what business actions were viewed as the most significant breakthroughs, and which NGOs and corporates were most recognized by sustainability experts both globally and in the Asia Pacific region.

The presentation was then followed by an insightful panel discussion where the panelists delved into the dynamic world of sustainability and provided a diverse range of perspectives from their own industry.

Susanne Cheung, Head of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability from Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, Coca-Cola’s fifth biggest bottler worldwide, highlighted the company’s ‘Planet, Product, People’ framework which is making its way from group level down to every level. This framework serves as a compass, guiding the company towards sustainable practices, with a concerted effort to demonstrate commitment to these values.

On the topic of how the Western-initiated sustainability narrative that took root back in 2015 resonates in the Asia Pacific market, Angus Choi, Partner of ESG Advisory from KPMG China noted that despite varying starting points and different topic priorities, there is a shared objective across Asia Pacific that aligns with the Western mindset to foster a global sustainability movement to achieve a common goal. Though, the ways in which these have and will be achieved, differ across geographies.

Keilem Ng, General Manager of Sustainability from Link REIT, the largest real estate trust in Asia, emphasized the critical role of communication and well-defined goals in transitioning from a traditional business model to a sustainable business model. She stated that it is not simply a top-down approach but also a bottom-up approach that involves employees at all levels. Keilem also shared illuminating insights from Link REIT’s practices and practical examples of these challenges.

The panelists also advocated the importance of undertaking materiality assessments. Rooted in the business model, they help companies identify what truly matters to the organization, shareholders, and stakeholders. It serves as a compass for prioritizing sustainability efforts, ensuring that the organization’s resources are channelled to the most impactful areas.

The discussion also explored the issue of greenwashing, underlining the ethical responsibility of organizations to scrutinize marketing material, substantiate claims, and exercise professional judgement in their communications.

The event closed with a conversation revolving around the significant role that reporting plays in building trust. The panelists stressed that reporting should not be viewed as just a regulatory obligation but a powerful tool for fostering trust between a company and its stakeholders especially in terms of quantifying the company’s impact, categorizing issues to facilitate fair comparisons among companies, and aligning financial ambitions with ESG objectives to create a harmonious synergy between profit and planet.