(First of two parts)
The only thing scarier-sounding than Day Zero is the need for three planet Earths.
Day Zero is the day running water stops and people line up for water – now a real risk being postponed or prevented if it can be helped in the City of Cape Town, South Africa – and in fact has recently been feared as a possibility in Metro Manila. The three-planet threat is cited in one UN study that if sustainable practices are not put in place, the estimated human population in 2050 nearing 10 billion people will need the resources of three planet Earths to survive.
Before the scenario of fighting for resources, there is the clear and present danger of global warming. There is a report that sets CO2 levels dangerous to humans about 25 years from now if carbon emissions remain unabated. This is a frightening, and not merely an inconvenient, truth.
Those climate threats over a country that has 47 percent of its population living in areas exposed to floodings and droughts, with 21 percent still in persistent poverty, and supply chains that desire ethical practices, form the backdrop of the latest PwC-MAP CEO survey on sustainability – or the future of business. In the past three years, top concerns of CEOs have been trained on cyberthreats, geopolitical uncertainty, availability of key talents, speed of technological change and over-regulation. But this year, climate change and environmental damage occupy the top spot in their minds as business threats. Today, more than ever, CEOs plan about being sustainable and not merely being profitable. Obligation to shareholders is now necessarily discussed alongside obligation to stakeholders, namely communities and the human race.
While the PwC-MAP CEO survey reveals that 83 percent of the CEO respondents are trying to address sustainability-related issues, the survey could not yet account for the intensity of the effort. We can, however, take a look this Sunday on some best practices and business models of Philippine corporations with sustainability on top of their agenda, as articulated by their CEOs.
Hans Sy SM Group
He listened to Al Gore say that if the ice glaciers melt, the sea level will rise by two meters. So he elevated the SM malls he built by three meters. He also made it a rule to add 10 percent contingency costs to their project costs for disaster risk reduction (DRR). He is the champion of DRR initiatives not only in the SM conglomerate, but in the country. As the first Filipino member of the ARISE International Board, formed under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, he is one of the principal advocates of public-private partnership in battling disaster risks.
His work begins with the 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in SM’s value chain, whose understanding of what to do when disaster incidents strike before was “almost zero.” Thus the education of MSMEs on disaster resiliency and how to normalize operations after closing down, from a fire or earthquake, is key. Now co-chair of the National Resiliency Council, he strengthens partnerships with local government units, NGOs, private corporations, academe and business organizations to encourage disaster risk sensitive investments and initiatives across the country.