Malaysia’s role in business sustainability

Posted on March 10, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

-The Star-

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia as the world’s second largest producer of palm oil has the ability to play a leading role in business sustainability by virtue of its important role in the sector.

“By using degraded land rather than virgin or high conservation value forests for planting, for example, conservation benefits can clearly be demonstrated,” said Andrew Wilson, vice-president of corporate relations at non-profit environment firm Conservation International.

“That’s why we consider the palm oil sector an opportunity to think about sustainability seriously. Managing and planning land use is extremely important,” he said yesterday before delivering his presentation at the two-day Asia Pacific Business and Sustainability Council’s “Sustainability and Supply Chains in Asia” conference hosted by Bursa Malaysia Bhd.

The Asia-Pacific Business and Sustainability Council was set up by US-based Conservation International in 2010 with the aim of providing a forum for regional firms to contribute to conservation and gain insight from fellow members and experts.

Wilson said Malaysian companies like Sime Darby Bhd and PPB Group Bhd’s associate firm Wilmar International Ltd were “committed to doing the right thing” but there were others which had yet to adopt sustainability practices.

“But I am hopeful because there is a growing understanding,” he said.

Both Sime Darby and Wilmar are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil which issues certification on the production of sustainable palm oil.

Meanwhile, Bursa Malaysia had said that it planned to introduce the Sustainability Index for public-listed companies in 2012.

To be known as the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), the index is expected to be a catalyst to attract more socially responsible investment (SRI) funds into Malaysia.

“Bursa hopes that the index will raise the profile of Malaysia’s listed companies that perform well on environmental, social and corporate governance indicators when compared to their peers,” Bursa Malaysia chief regulatory officer Selvarany Rasiah told StarBiz recently.

“The index will encourage the level and quality of disclosures on ESG issues in listed companies to rise and subsequently attract global SRI funds to invest in them,” she said.

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