Manila, Philippines – December 30, 2015 – Sustainable development has made significant progress in recent years, especially with the establishment of United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that finally set the standard to which organizations operate. Climate change talks, among many other agendas, are underway and highly-developed countries like the US and those in the European Union have promised to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. As for the Philippines, we have our own promises to keep.
Last November 25, 2015, thought leaders from various organizations (Manila Water Company, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, PLDT, Globe Telecom, IMI, etc.) gathered at the Mind Museum Auditorium, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig for Integrating Sustainability into Business and Effective Storytelling, a research launch and workshop hosted by DRINK Editorial and Design, Inc. as part of an ongoing series called drinkIDEAS that aims to promote the widespread adoption of sustainability among businesses. The event was held in partnership with SustainAbility and The Purpose Business and co-presented by Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI).
The event opened with a video presentation by Ayala Land detailing their sustainability focus areas. This demonstration not only showcased their sustainable development projects, but also inspired everyone in the room. Harris Guevarra, President of DRINK, then officially welcomed the guests and formally addressed them as “practitioners for development”.
“You need to inspire the industry to move as a collective,” said Pat Gallardo-Dwyer, Founder and Director of The Purpose Business, a 360 degree network of sustainability and business advisors based in Hong Kong, as she recounted the rising urgency of businesses to move towards sustainable ways of operating business.
Zoe Arden, director of U.K.-based advisory firm and think tank, SustainAbility, presented the organization’s latest research, Integrating Sustainability into Business, which focuses on Asia and stresses the importance of remodelling business strategies in such a way that they achieve the triple bottomline: social, environmental, and financial. She explained that the full integration of sustainability into one’s business strategy can only be achieved by identifying areas for holistic development, making sustainability-geared decisions, and promoting a culture of responsibility and transparency. The research was sponsored by SustainAbility’s Engaging Stakeholders network, a global member network of leading companies who are dedicated to advancing transparency and stakeholder engagement in pursuit of a more sustainable world.
Ms. Arden added that this research is an evolving project that continually incorporates knowledge and data gathered from the countries visited, eventually culminating in the official launch on December 8, 2015. As a nod to this, Ms. Dwyer opened the floor for discussion to which guests threw ideas and raised crucial questions with gusto.
“I was hugely impressed by the levels of commitment to business leadership in sustainability and sense of individual responsibility from the people I met in the Philippines,” Ms. Arden said. “There was real passion around integrating sustainability into their business strategy, operations and supply chain, to share their experiences, learn from others and try to broaden awareness among customers and consumers.”
“It was wonderful to have the accompanying buzz of happy, animated children as we looked at how businesses in the Philippines can have a positive impact,” Ms. Arden added, referring to how sustainability affects future generations.
Guests returned for the second part of the event, a workshop on Effective Storytelling, and the auditorium turned into an arena where each one’s wit and oration skills were put to the test. They were asked to pair up with someone they didn’t usually work with and were asked to record their partners talking about any specific topic for 2-minutes. After the storm of chatter, two representatives—Mark Tom Mulingbayan of MWC and Leslie Cariaso of IMI—were asked to talk in front. Ms. Arden took this opportunity to explain the purpose of the storytelling workshop, emphasizing on how these skills can help companies tell their sustainability stories in a way that would engage stakeholders and move their thoughts.
“More stories. Less PowerPoint. Practice out loud.” Ms. Arden echoed her 7-word catch phrase, emphasizing the need to empathize with the audience when speaking about sustainability. “What’s in it for them?” She mused. She stressed the need to catch and maintain the attention of stakeholders, corporate and general public alike, because doing neither would be like throwing the idea of sustainability to a wall and having it bounce back at you.
Applause, praise, and gratitude punctuated the long, but fruitful day as the event came to a close.
The morning started with the promise of learning more about sustainability. Driven by our passion for environmental responsibility, sustainable development in the Philippines has made another milestone.