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Starweek Magazine

The Green Plant

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In the recent ASEAN Sustainable Development Symposium held in Bangkok, Thailand, the consensus was clear: synergy, sufficiency and collaboration are needed throughout the nations to sustain a clean and healthy environment.

The panelists at the symposium also highlighted the fact that in the world today, sustainable development is no longer just an option, but a necessity.

The summit, aimed at promoting sustainable and social growth in the ASEAN, emphasized collaboration as theme. “Sharing knowledge is very important. Sharing information, best practices and learnings,” says Siam Cement Group (SCG) president and CEO Kan Trakulhoon.

Trakulhoon points out, population is increasing globally, with ASEAN seeing a staggering population growth, which increasingly puts the environment at risk. “We need to sincerely collaborate in order to take care of the society and environment.”

SCG, the symposium’s sponsor, is committed to upholding sustainable development.

“SCG sincerely hopes that the ASEAN Sustainable Development Symposium 2014 will contribute to expanding of network, and complement each other’s work while opening up new opportunities in order to enhance ASEAN’s competitive advantage in earnest,” says the CEO.

With long-term goals committed to upholding sustainable development, people in Thailand have started calling SCG’s factory in Lampang “The Green Factory.”

SCG is Thailand’s first cement company, founded in 1913, and is the largest cement manufacturer in the country. Its Lampang factory was established in 1994, constructed within a conserved forest. According to engineers at the plant, when they started in 1993, trees in the surrounding forest were sparse and the area had frequent forest fires, seasonal floods and drought.

Through SCG’s environmental projects, the factory site became covered with trees by 2006. The growth helped decrease the temperature in the area, significantly reducing the occurrence of forest fires. Birds and other animals flourished in the area as well. From 57 species in 1999, the factory recorded 166 species this year. The bird population at the factory accounts for some 15 percent of the total species in Thailand.

SCG is also the first factory to use semi-open cut mining. Using this technique, the factory digs into the middle of the quarry, retaining a natural boundary wall between the quarry and the environment. This technique also protects the area from dust and greatly reduces noise pollution. After mining, SCG rehabilitates the quarry area.

Another flagship project of SCG is the building of check dams around their property. These small, tiered dams, made of bamboo poles, have helped to reduce erosion, conserve water, restore humidity and reduce forest fires. By 2013, SCG had constructed 62,812 check dams.

The Lampang plant alone sets aside a one-million Baht budget per year to take care of the forest. Seeing the lush greenery around the plant, SCG has succeeded not only in preserving the existing environment, but has even further enhanced it.

Surrounding communities – 43 of them – have also benefitted from SCG’s environmental projects. The company’s leaders also say that their other plants, even those in other countries like Laos, have similar projects, depending on the needs of the environment and community at each area.

 

Hoping to share best practices with its ASEAN neighbors, SCG hosts the sustainable development symposium.

This year’s summit saw sustainable development experts and company leaders coming together to talk about collaboration and making sustainable development viable in the ASEAN.

Yvo de Boer, director general of the Global Green Growth Institute, discussed Green Growth as the key ASEAN challenge.

“ASEAN is also one the world’s most resource-rich regions,” he says.

“The world is facing multiple challenges, chief of which being rising energy price, the challenge to feed an increasingly expanding population and the water crisis on which we are pondering how to maintain and tend to. We also confront the challenge of needs of basic essentials that have to be acquired using money. All of these are consequences of increase in consumption and population growth. These trends are having significant impact on Asia,” he adds, citing severe flooding in the host city Bangkok, and Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that struck the Philippines a year ago as results of the rapid impact that population growth has had on the environment.

“In many countries, policies remain on paper, because implementation gets bogged down and delayed. The economy has advanced, but society and environment were neglected and destroyed in the process.”

De Boer suggests that public-private collaboration is key in realizing sustainability today. “This also requires the shift in conceptual frame from ‘spending on sustainable development represents risk to the organization’ to ‘investing in sustainability to ensure better future and for the sake of our world’.”

De Boer believes that this is the perfect time for Asia and ASEAN to work on sustainable development. “We must start by raising awareness, formulating policy and act to achieve concrete results. Not just by talking. We need to get our message across to investors so they too invest in our sustainability undertaking.”

In an engaging panel discussion, three international speakers talked about “The Success of Business with its Sustainability Agenda.”

“At present, sustainability development is a must have staple that all organizations must implement,” says David Pearson, chief sustainability officer of Deloitte Global.

ERM Asia Pacific regional CEO Keryn James agrees. “The business world must proceed with equity and transparency, as well as accountability to social contribution, in order to generate competitive advantage.” She urges Asian organizations to focus on regional challenges, balancing growth and growing in a sustainable manner, and urbanization and population growth.

James says it is regrettable that many Asian countries are developing rapidly, but the sustainable development agenda is moving slowly. “With the growth of the middle class, many people deem economic growth as top priority. Other barriers include natural disasters and domestic politics in each country,” she says.

Pearson adds, “Today I would like to ask each organization to start thinking and studying stakeholders related to your organization and try to come up with answers regarding the positive and negative impacts upon whom and which sector. Besides negative impacts we should also identify opportunities for collaboration, for all stakeholders to go forward together and grow in a sustainable fashion.”

Ultimately, SCG aims to “build a dam in one’s heart” by developing and enriching each community they become involved in.

While SCG has yet to establish its own plant in the Philippines (its subsidiaries in the country include Mariwasa Siam Ceramics and SCG Trading Philippines), its commitment to sustainable development in the environment and the community is something that any Philippine company can advocate.

ASEAN

ASIA PACIFIC

DE BOER

DEVELOPMENT

ENVIRONMENT

FACTORY

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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SYMPOSIUM

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