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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Do well and do good

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By Owen Cammayo

Big congratulations to the Manila Standard for its newest special section: “Environment and Sustainability” and its section head, long time business editor and good friend, Ray Eñano. Hats off also to the management and publisher―for satisfying the hunger of the younger generation for information on social and environment issues affecting our society.

Let me start by stating a fact: Sustainability is a ‘big’ word that has various definitions and applications, depending on who your audience is.

According to the United Nations, sustainability or sustainable development requires an integrated approach that takes into consideration environmental concerns along with economic development.

The United Nations Brundtland Commission in 1987 defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

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Today, there are almost 140 developing countries in the world seeking ways of meeting their development needs, but with the increasing threat of climate change, concrete efforts must be made to ensure development today does not negatively affect future generations.

The Sustainable Development Goals form the framework for improving the lives of populations around the world and mitigating the hazardous man-made effects of climate change. SDG 13: Climate Action calls for integrating measures to prevent climate change within development frameworks, while SDG 14: Life Below Water and SDG 15: Life on Land pleaded for more sustainable practices in using the earth’s natural resources.

Sustainability, according to the Harvard Business School refers to doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community or society as a whole. Sustainability in business generally addresses two main categories: The effect business on the environment and on society.

The goal of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact on at least one of those areas. When companies fail to assume responsibility, the opposite can happen, leading to issues like environmental degradation, inequality and social injustice. Sustainable businesses consider a wide array of environmental, economic,and social factors when making business decisions. These organizations monitor the impact of their operations to ensure that short-term profits don’t turn into long-term liabilities.

Beyond helping curb global challenges, sustainability can drive business succes.s Several investors today use environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics to analyze an organization’s ethical impact and sustainability practices. Investors examine factors such as a company’s carbon footprint, water usage, community development efforts and board diversity.

Research shows that companies with high ESG ratings have a lower cost of debt and equity and that sustainability initiatives can help improve financial performance while fostering public support. According to McKinsey, the strongest motivating factors to adopting a sustainable mindset in 2017 were to align with a company’s goals, missions or values; build, maintain, or improve reputation; meet customer’s expectations; and develop new growth opportunities.

The overlap between social and environmental progress and financial gain is called the shared value opportunity. In other words, “doing good” can have a direct impact on your company’s ability to “do well.” Due to this opportunity, it’s clear why many businesses have adopted these practices.

Doing well by doing good as an economic and social imperative has become more relevant now more than ever. This is the perfect time to increase our efforts to become more responsible and sustainable when doing business.

In the corporate foundation that I currently serve, our aspiration is to help enable a financially well and inclusive nation where everyone is empowered to live a better life. Among those we support belong to a budding sector that aims to uplift underserved communities through a sustainable business model. They are called social enterprises (SEs), which follow a different set of practices than most businesses. SEs combine the best of non-profits and regular businesses by focusing on the triple bottom line: profit or money, planet or environment and people or social impact.

We are committed to nurture and empower SEs and enable their success through Sinag, one of our flagship social development programs, providing opportunities for funding technological, social and market innovations. Initially conceived as a business challenge competition in 2015, it has now evolved into a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs, academe, mentors, investors and other intervenors who share the same goal of inclusive and sustainable growth through social entrepreneurship.

Social enterprises are the natural and true manifestation of the Filipino ‘Bayanihan” spirit. The SE business model is responsible, inclusive and sustainable. I will talk about SEs and its ecosystem more in the next columns.

In the meantime, to know more about the SE model and Sinag program, please visit the third Sinag Sari-Sari store at the Ayala Museum in Makati City, which will be officially open to the general public on March 31.

Editor’s notes: Owen Cammayo is the Executive Director of BPI Foundation. Manila Standard’s Biodiversity 101 column is open to contributors who share the advocacies of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable practices that are being pushed by the United Nations. Such contributions are subject to the availability of space and the paper’s editorial policies. The contributions should not exceed 600 words or 4,000 characters.

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