With about 100 registered participants from Singapore, Hong Kong and China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, Europe and the US, the first Responsible Business Summit Asia initiated discussions between representatives from corporations, academia, press, non-for profit as well as some government agencies. It was organised by the Ethical Corporation on 6-7 May 2015 in Singapore.
Participants got hands-on advice how to get the company’s sustainability efforts understood by its target audience, how to better engage communities to minimise social risks and build trust, and how to ensure responsible business consistency throughout the supply chain, learning from diverse industries including banking, beverages, chemicals, consumer goods, health, palm oil, resource extraction, telecom, transportation. The guiding question – when and how does sustainable innovation pay off – was answered by in-depth analysis and best practice sharing, including strategies for product innovation by embedding social and environmental standards, and learning from crisis before it happens. The presentations showed that even the classical sustainability themes – stakeholder engagement and reporting – are under continuous development. The most successful cooperation between a company and an NGO (Greenpeace) came – surprisingly? – out of the palm oil industry. The discussion on employee engagement included recommendations how to promote skill-based volunteering. In reporting, the focus on (social, environmental and economic) impacts rather than mere outputs is the international trend, and some companies develop new formats for their sustainability reports, tailor-made for different target groups.
Given the high level of competence and active participation, collaboration and innovation for sustainable business growth in region can be expected as a benefit of the summit. We will keep you informed about follow-up events.