Countries are given the unprecedented opportunity to build back in a more environmentally and socially sustainable way as they rebuild their economies amid the pandemic. In the same way, this “Great Reset” offers a chance for corporations to rethink priorities and work towards building a more sustainable future.
Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft Corporation, pointed this out during the 12th Leadership Innovation Forum (Lead-In) of Globe Business. The event, attended by over 900 guests including corporate leaders across all industries, carried the theme “Bigger Picture, Greater Future: Redefining Success Beyond Business.”
Joppa explained that at the center of the “Great Reset” is environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. ESG urges companies to go beyond the pure pursuit of profit to benefit the broader socio-economic systems.
“If we don't begin to stabilize our overall climate systems, if we don't begin to build a more environmentally sustainable future, if we don't begin to close that economic disparity gap between different people at different places on the planet, then the world isn't going to do well. And if the world doesn't do well, our corporations won't do well. And that is why everyone is talking about ESG as the core part of this great economic reset,” Joppa stressed.
According to Joppa, companies have to think about minimizing their environmental and social footprint and the negative social impacts of their business operations. At the same time, they should maximize the positive environmental and social impacts of their products, policies, and partnerships. Such equation for optimization should sit at the core of every corporation's governance, planning, and strategic visioning cycles.
“Make sure that both your existing products and services are deployed in pursuit of solving environmental challenges and social challenges and that you're purposefully innovating new solutions for the market so that you can be the trusted partner for customers who are also undergoing their own sustainability,” he said.
Likewise, Joppa said enterprises should have core corporate commitments from an ESG perspective for the short, medium, and long terms similar to financial targets. These ESG targets have to be set and achieved as well.
At present, the most pressing environmental problem is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, resulting in rapidly changing climates. Such environmental degradation is mainly a result of economic growth, which is necessary for improving the human experience.
To address the situation and achieve a net-zero carbon emission, Joppa said Microsoft has committed to a simple but ambitious target of becoming a carbon negative company, a water positive company, and a zero-waste company by 2030.
“The plan is to reduce our emissions by half or more and physically remove the rest by 2030. And then moving forward every year, not just to zero out our annual emissions but to also go back in time and remove all the emissions that we’re associated with since we were founded in 1975,” he explained.
Large companies such as Microsoft have committed to 100% carbon neutral supply chains and products by 2030, while others have committed to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
Aside from Joppa, other speakers during the Lead-In forum were Globe Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications Yoly Crisanto, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. President and CEO Cesar Romero, and Managing Director, Member of the Management Committee of Ayala Corporation and Chief Operating Officer of iPeople, Inc. Alfredo Ayala.
Globe strongly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 9, highlighting the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development, and UN SDG No. 13, which underscores the importance of climate action to save lives and livelihoods to address climate emergencies. It is committed to upholding the UN Global Compact principles and contributing to 10 UN SDGs.