In a landmark event that unfolded on Thursday, November 23, a cohort of influential business leaders and policy experts convened to spearhead a conversation centered around ambitious corporate climate action. The focus extended beyond traditional environmental considerations, delving into pro-poor and gender-sensitive solutions. The gathering showcased a distinguished lineup of speakers and panelists, representing a significant milestone in the realm of sustainable business practices.
“This is a historic event to include business leaders in the commitment to transform the country into a resilient, low-carbon society,” expressed Secretary Robert E.A. Borje of the Climate Change Commission. He underscored the urgency of scaling up efforts in a predictable manner, emphasizing the moral imperative inherent in safeguarding lives, livelihoods, and the future of the populace.
The discussion, expertly moderated by Ms. Ping Manongdo, Southeast Asia Partnerships Manager and Philippines Country Head at Eco-Business, delved into the symbiotic roles of government and the private sector in achieving tangible emission reduction goals.
Mr. Jaime Zobel Urquijo, Chief Sustainability Officer and Risk Officer at Ayala Corporation, emphasized the significance of metrics and baselining. “We identify our baseline emissions on a yearly basis, and we are fortunate to have a net-zero commitment and a visionary leader in the person of the CEO of Ayala Corporation,” he shared.
Ms. Chaye Cabal Revilla, CFO and Chief Sustainability Officer at Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, highlighted the critical role of baselining and measurement. “We want to be net negative and fortify our environmental stewardship plans,” she emphasized, pointing out the importance of setting the tone from the top.
Ms. Leah Marie Ayeng, General Manager of Prestige Paper Products, stressed the importance of investing in sustainable products to accelerate climate consciousness and enhance business viability. “I believe that a responsible business is also a profitable business,” she asserted.
Mr. Ted Monroy, Country Representative, United Nations Industrial Development Organization Country Office Philippines, shed light on the intersection of climate change and development, particularly in typhoon-prone areas like Mindanao. “If there’s no energy, there’s no development. We focus on renewable energy and supporting local development,” he explained.
A stark warning came from Mr. Horia Adrian, President and CEO of Holcim Philippines Inc.: “We will consume 2.5 planets by 2030 if we continue like this. Sustainability is very tangible because it affects the entire world.”
In a powerful call to action, Mr. Adrian emphasized, “People should feel sustainability in their heart. We can provide the solution, but the solution has to be used.”
The Q&A session brought forth insights on advertising sustainability and encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt eco-friendly practices. Ms. Revilla addressed the costliness of sustainable business practices, stating, “It’s more costly, but it’s in our DNA.” Mr. Urquijo added, “We just need to be a lot more creative in unlocking value.”
In the closing remarks, Secretary Borje stressed the inseparable connection between business success and environmental sustainability. “There is no business on a dead planet. The government needs to craft policies to support these changes,” he declared.
The event concluded with a resounding call for collective business action, recognizing the pivotal role of corporations in steering towards a resilient and sustainable future. The unanimous agreement among panelists on the interconnectedness of sustainability, profitability, and societal well-being sets a precedent for future collaborations and initiatives. As Secretary Borje aptly concluded, “What we need to do is scan the horizon and give it a climate change lens. We are learning that climate change is the governance challenge of our generation.”