SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT – Business leaders discussed trends and perspectives on sustainability and reporting during the first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Summit in the Philippines was held at Conrad Manila yesterday. Heads of leading businesses who gave industry perspectives on how Philippine businesses could pave the way to a sustainable Philippines were led by (from left) Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corporation president-CEO; Sunny Verghese, World Business Council for Sustainable Development Chairman; Teresita T. Sy-Coson, SM Investments Corporation Co-Vice Chairperson; and former energy secretary Vincent S. Perez Jr. of Alternergy.(Photo by Regie D. Mason)

SM Investment Corporation (SM) is taking an active role in the private sector’s involvement in sustainability reporting and sustainable development following the conclusion yesterday of the first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Summit at the Conrad Manila.

Teresita Sy-Coson, SM Vice Chair said that the agenda of businesses is closely linked with sustainability and all are faced with greater unpredictability due to the devastating effects of climate change and the widening gap in social and economic opportunities in the world.

“As more and more businesses get together to pursue the objective of operating sustainably, there is a need for us to have common measures on how we are performing,” Sy-Coson said.

Sy-Coson emphasized that sustainability has become an integral part of doing business. She said “impact investments,” or those that put sustainability elements into the equation, are critical. These impact investments give due importance to both financial and non-financial indicators from the time a project is conceived.

She added that sustainability considerations are vital in mitigating risks. “We at SM believe that when we view opportunities with the wider lens of assessing our role in environmental or social issues, it enables us to identify and better prepare for risks,” Sy-Coson said.

She asked businesses to consider how they can complement or provide support and access to socio-economic safety nets, adding that philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and creating shared value remain to be pillars in sustainability.

Hans T. Sy, SM Prime Holdings Chairman of the Executive Committee, for his part, said that in the Philippines, the private sector contributes about 70 to 80 percent of capital investments towards the development of critical infrastructure.

These include facilities for safety and security, transportation, communication and other basic services like power and water.

“As the public sector takes a lead role in regulatory and governance functions, the private sector can share the lead in adopting responsible and sustainable business practices. In particular, businesses should take a closer look at integrating disaster risk reduction into their business models and processes,” Sy said.

SM Prime’s investments in resilience has become an indispensable element of the company’s strategic objectives. “To us, it is an investment that not only enables the long-term success and viability of our business but also safeguards the lives and interests of our stakeholders,” he said.

SM Prime has committed to allocate 10 percent of its capital expenditures to incorporate disaster resilient features in the design and construction of its property developments.

The GRI Summit gathered key private and public sector leaders to help promote sustainability reporting in the Philippines. GRI, the lead convenor, has partnered with the SM group of companies led by SM Investments Corporation as well as with the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, the Philippine Business for Environment and the Makati Business Club in launching this summit in the country.

GRI said that some 7% of publicly-listed companies or 23 of the 263 listed companies in the Philippines, which comprise at least 35% of the market capitalization in the Philippine Stock Exchange, have issued Sustainability Reports.

Source: Manila Bulletin