ERM is delighted to have launched the SustainAbility Institute by ERM with two online events on Wednesday, October 14th 2020.

Each session was hosted by Keryn James, Group Chief Executive of ERM, and Mark Lee, the Head of the new Institute, and featured a group of expert panelists representing ERM clients and partners.

For the Asia-Pacific session, we were joined by:

  • David Simmonds, Group General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer, CLP

  • Thong Chie Shang, Head, Enterprise Strategy, GIC

  • Claire O’Neill, Managing Director, Climate and Energy, WBCSD

  • Chaya Chandavasu, Senior Vice President Sustainability and Corporate Branding, PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (GC)

Describing the launch of the Institute as a huge moment for ERM, Keryn James expressed her excitement for what’s to come and for the contributions the thought leadership platform will make in the decade of action 2020-2030.

During each panel discussion, we focused on long-term business resilience and how to best maximize it for greater success. We explored this through topics like ESG, the low carbon economy transition, and human and social capital.

Initially, we asked our speakers to consider approaches to building better resilience, especially given the current context shaped by COVID-19, economic downturn, and the global movements pressing for greater equality and an end to systemic racism. We also considered the decade of action, exploring the greatest obstacles in the way of success and the necessary actions to overcome them.

Among many highlights of the discussion, David Simmonds told us “Climate change and sustainability is not a problem for the next generation, it is one for us now.” Dr. Chaya Chandavasu implored people to “Start with yourself, what you can do in your business or in your life.” Thong Chie stated “The faster we identify material ESG issues and risks, the more compelled and convinced investors will be.” And Claire O’Neill urged us all to download and study the Keeling Curve and to take what it tells us about the climate emergency as a call to action.

In light of the global pandemic, panelists also emphasized the need for increased collaboration.When considering the most urgent actions towards a more sustainable future, Claire O’Neill said, “We need to involve academic innovation in solution-building – governments just aren’t that innovative,” while David Simmonds called for that innovation to also be “Bolstered by government support.” Keryn James told us that she was excited about hydrogen innovation as a potential area of breakthrough related to the creation of a low carbon economy, and said that she wanted to see more commitment from consumers to drive market change. Thong Chie Shang added that companies with higher ESG ratings are outperforming competitors, and stated that companies employing longer-term thinking view this crisis as an opportunity to “Conserve skills rather than just cash.” Finally, Dr. Chaya told us how PTT has been adapting by “Reskilling and upskilling people to face the new reality.”

Overall, panelists called for increased accountability, more thorough ESG work and greater collaboration. They also stressed the need to be vigilant about the challenges of the present while simultaneously thinking through all possible future scenarios, then ensuring that the longer-term thinking scenarios planning requires is applied to increasing resilience.

Keryn closed the each panelist webinar by saying that the conversation was an example of what the Institute has set out to achieve: bringing experts together from diverse backgrounds to share knowledge and encourage progress towards our common goals.

The complete video recording of the Asia Pacific webinar is available here and below. We invite you to watch it and share it with others, and we look forward to any feedback you may offer. We also thank GlobeScan for the technical and other support they provided for the launches, which employed their online collaboration forum platform and benefited from their expert input and facilitation. 

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