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The event was hosted by Amundi, WWF-Malaysia and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on 22 February at the Grand Hyatt. The conference focused on how businesses can make a positive impact on the environment and society, while continuing to generate profits for shareholders in the long run.
The event began with a keynote speech by Amundi Malaysia Managing Director Haizan Johari who discussed investors’ needs with regards to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and sustainable investment.
This was followed up with a speech by WWF-Malaysia’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sophia Lim, who said businesses and financial institutions can be the world’s strongest positive forces for sustainability.
The conference featured a variety of leading experts in the industry starting with BCG Southeast Asia Lead for Climate and Sustainability Dave Sivaprasad, who gave an overview of the ‘Securing our Future: Net Zero Pathways for Malaysia’ report.
“The transition to net zero is challenging, but it comes with so many benefits for countries like Malaysia. Taking a leadership position has a positive impact on trade and generating green jobs,” he said.
Amundi’s Global Head of ESG Research, Engagement and Voting Caroline Le Meaux spoke on the outlook for corporates in Asia, adding that the bulk of the economy is still far from being sustainable according to the Natural Capital Index (NCI).
“There are four main regulations which have an impact on the financial regulation in Europe, one of which is a regulation on disclosure where we need to do and have an obligation to disclose how we manage sustainability risks, as well as adverse impacts,” she explained.
Le Meaux highlighted that institutional investors like Amundi take ESG considerations seriously in their investment approaches and picking the best companies. For instance, it has voting policies focusing on how the board is considering ESG factors and putting in place climate strategies.
“Votes are a very powerful tool to push companies to improve their governance, environmental and social integration,” she said.
WWF-Malaysia Director of Policy and Climate Change Lavanya Rama Iyer said the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), exposed the need for establishing the loss and damage fund to compensate for the impacts that people are already facing.
“In order to reduce the amount that we put into the loss and damage fund, we really need to increase our ambitions and actions for both mitigation and adaptation. The key way to do that is to bring nature into the picture properly,” she said.
One of the event’s highlights was a session moderated by Wong Shou Ning, with a panel comprising Le Meaux, Climate Governance Malaysia council member Dr Gary Theseira and Guan Chong Berhad CEO Brandon Tay.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear from, and engage with the panellists on topics such as current corporate sustainability programs and practices, sustainability in government policies, business opportunities, and the need for a change in mindset.
The conference concluded with a closing speech from Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Muhammad Umar Swift, who said that empirical evidence has shown that companies with higher ESG scores outperform, in both stock performance and underlying financial metrics.
“With growing public awareness of ESG, there is a clear business case for companies to invest in sustainable practices and initiatives.
“Only by balancing the expectations of profit for shareholders with the need to make a positive impact on the environment and society, businesses can achieve both profitability and sustainability, benefiting all stakeholders in the process,” he added.
The event was a resounding success and has helped to further conversations on ESG and sustainable investment. Amundi, WWF-Malaysia and BCG are proud to have hosted such an important conference and look forward to continuing to promote ESG and sustainable investment in the future.
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