Sustainability key to stronger recovery

    Hans Sy

    “Let us create a mindset for quality-of-life that requires a healthy environment, one that is sustainable and good for business”

    Pushing for sustainability in a business means adapting to the new normal ushered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, businesses executives said.

    Hans T. Sy, SM Prime Holdings Inc. chairman, in a recent address to business leaders underscored how sustainable business practice equates to building up business capabilities to adapt to the evolving environment caused by the pandemic.

    “We are in the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis but as early as now, we can seize the opportunity and recognize that caring for the environment, along with climate change adaptation, play a crucial role in emerging strong from this pandemic and helping the economy adapt to the new normal,” said Sy.

    “Environment recovery means economic recovery. Being green, using green technology, green products, creating green jobs, are all for sustainable development and economic growth, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.

    For one, the trend of moving towards the digital economy reduces the strain of human activity in the environment, according to him.

    “During this pandemic, digital technology and digital transformation assisted our business to cope with the social distancing measures, ensure business continuity, and deliver services,” he said.

    “Daily tasks, meetings, trainings and webinars, including our external communications and advocacies, are conveniently conducted via online platforms that eliminate the need for travel and additional expenses,” Sy added.

    Sy said that adapting to the “new normal” is about innovation and transformation.
    “Digital shopping platforms utilizing digital wallets for contactless payments, are the demands of today. Enhanced online shopping or e-commerce through social media, and even digital personal shopping assistants, are available in our malls. QR Codes are in place for contact tracing to lessen the use of paper and pen,” he said.

    “Post Covid-19, the human landscape will continue to be reliant on digitization, and these eco-friendly tools, products, and services will be the norm. The public, including the students, are being ushered into the digital age, and it is expected that companies are to evolve with the technology, and fast,” he added.

    Sy said that adopting the processes demanded by the current environment, allows businesses to be stewards of the ecosystem, “as we accept that one cannot live without the other.”

    “Let us create a mindset for quality-of-life that requires a healthy environment, one that is sustainable and good for business,” he said.

    “A sustainable future is only certain when it is firmly anchored on what is consistent,” meanwhile said Sabin Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group president.

    A company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) performance determines how resilient it can be in adapting to challenging times.

    Citing its experience in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Aboitiz group recently said that it has hinged its response on its ESG initiatives in order to address various social issues that challenge community development ー and under a new normal at that.


    “Under Environment, there have been opportunities for fuel, energy, and water consumption reduction in business operations as the company continues its environmental management efforts,” it said.

    “Under Social, the Aboitiz Group ensures a healthy and safe work environment by maximizing the use of digital tools to adjust to a work from home arrangement, team engagement, and corporate social responsibility programs for COVID-19 response,” it added.

    “Under Governance, Aboitiz has demonstrated a strong balance sheet that is resilient to financial implications without undermining economic contributions to society,” it also said.

    The group said that its business continuity plans “are proving to be effective” with the COVID-19 pandemic continuously testing its governance in terms of risk management and planning.

    The Aboitiz Group put together a COVID-19 Technical Working Group which implements guidelines on the company’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The team also regularly updates the group-wide Business Continuity Plan, Business Impact Analysis, and Business Recovery Plan in collaboration with all business units based on different scenarios.

    Overall, the Group’s COVID-19 efforts aim to address immediate concerns on safety and these efforts were made possible through stakeholder partnerships, recognizing that greater and closer collaboration between the government and the private sector can help mitigate COVID-19’s impact.