Thailand’s Sustainability for Business Forum Calls for Green Recovery
BANGKOK, October 12, 2020 – Organizers of the fourth annual Sustainability for Business Forum in Thailand on October 8 convened dozens of representatives from business and the diplomatic communities to showcase innovative business models in resilient cities, lifestyle and food sectors. Experts spanning transportation to food packaging analyzed how their industries are creating and responding to opportunities to prepare companies for climate and pandemic risks that have upended multiple business models – creating space and raising urgency for new ones.
“We are in a period of unprecedented investment opportunities. Forward-thinking business leaders and impact investors can make climate-conscious, game-changing advancements for people, the planet, and business profits,” said said Steven G. Olive, director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office covering Asia, the event’s strategic partner. “Facilitating investment in emerging markets is difficult, but our very survival in a warming world hinges on leaders in this room responding to this historical capital call.”
The event covered green growth in Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) smart cities, and land “porosity”. These urban spaces that allow for the free flow and penetration of water and wind in water-based cities can help defend urban ecosystems in times of climate change, said Kotchakorn Voraakhom, managing director of Landprocess.
USAID Green Invest Asia, a technical service facility that facilitates investment in sustainable agriculture and forestry companies trough Southeast Asia, organized a “Food of the Future” track that showcased innovations in food, food technology (aquaculture), and the food supply chain.
Innovations showcased included an organic rice producer, Urmatt, transforming rice straw into food packaging, thereby preventing the waste from being burned. Agricultural burning is a major contributor to air pollution spikes in Thailand.
The U.S. organic coconut water manufacturer, Harmless Harvest, and food conglomerate, Nestlé each shared how they are greening their supply chains to reduce carbon emissions, while boosting producers’ livelihoods.
“Covid-19 is a poignant reminder of how supply chain disruption can threaten hundreds of products, and many times more livelihoods,” said Christy Owen, head of USAID Green Invest Asia. “Our collective task is to scale more sustainable business practices along the supply chain, recognizing that patient capital can be hard to find,” she said, referring to long-term investments that allow a business time to prove its concept in the marketplace.
Since 2017, USAID Green Invest Asia has partnered with a network of investors seeking sustainable agriculture, forestry and other land use (i.e. peatlands) investments in Southeast Asia, while also helping companies overcome operational and environmental hurdles to securing impact investment. DBS Bank has estimated a $400bn investment opportunity until 2030 to improve the environmental footprint of land use in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Sustainability and supply chain resilience improvements are no longer optional business practice, but rather a necessity, said Florian Bennhold, CEO of Symbior Solar. “Covid-19 is an accelerator. If anyone had doubts about sustainability being a core corporate strategy, they now realize otherwise.”
When asked about the business case for sustainability at his restaurant – which, among other waste reduction efforts, turns citrus scraps into cleaning agents – the chef of high-end local restaurant Bo.Lan, Dylan Thomas Jones, replied: “Is it a cost or an opportunity? It is a business necessity. We have no choice.”
A multi-chamber effort, the Franco-Thai, Swedish and Netherlands chambers of commerce in Thailand organized this year’s forum . More information is available at connect2sustainability.com.