Transcript: Remarks by Ho Ching at The Women In Business Breakfast (in conjunction with ASEAN-Australia Business Summit)
Good morning, Lucy [Turnbull],
Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, Ministers,
High Commissioners and Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends:
It is a privilege for me to be here with you all today.
First, I would like to pay my respects to the Elders of the Gadigal people, past and present. I also extend my greetings to the Gadigal youth of today, who will be their leaders of tomorrow. The Gadigal people are the traditional custodians of the Eora lands, where we are meeting today. My good wishes to them all.
I would also like to thank Lucy for her kind invitation for me to co-host breakfast with her this morning.
For this breakfast session, I would like to touch briefly on the role of business as stakeholders and stewards of our wider community.
Some of you may be familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals1 for 2030, or the SDGs for short. I think, in front of you on your table, there’s a little card that lists the 17 SDGs.
Following the launch of the SDGs in 2015, the Business for Sustainable Development Commission2 launched a report last year entitled, “Better Business, Better World”.
It identified over US$12 trillion worth of economic opportunities over the next decade3. From food and agriculture, to health and well-being; from cities to energy and materials, these opportunities can in turn create 380 million new jobs globally.
About US$5 trillion4 worth of these opportunities will be in Asia – ASEAN and India will each account for US$1 trillion of opportunities. The rest of the opportunities will be in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China, and the rest of emerging Asia.
As you can see, the UN SDGs are not just ideals – they are also an opportunity for better business, for a better world.
For instance, take a global agriculture commodity trader like Olam. Olam believes it can help farmers improve crop yields and reduce food wastage. Such initiatives not only improve lives for the farmers and their communities. They also reduce environmental footprint through lower food wastage, and create value for businesses at the same time.
At Temasek, we champion Ecosperity. Ecosperity is the twinning of ecology and prosperity for a sustainable future. It makes no sense to push for development at the expense of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil in which we grow our food crops.
This year, the 5th edition of the Ecosperity conference5 will be held on 5th June in Singapore. 5th of June is the United Nations World Environment Day. The conference aims to promote a better world, an ABC World6 of Active economies, Beautiful societies and Clean environments. A-B-C for Active, Beautiful, Clean.
Business leaders, policy makers, and other stakeholders from around the world will be coming together to share their experiences, ideas and solutions for an ABC World. I welcome all of you to join us, to share your own experiences and solutions too.
Ladies and Gentlemen, businesses have a stake in the wellbeing of our wider community.
Businesses will find it hard to thrive, if society fails.
Hence, businesses must play their part as stewards of our communities, for our common good, alongside governments and the civic society.
To do this, I would like to suggest that businesses think in terms of three bottomlines.
We are all familiar with the 1st bottomline of profits and financial returns – this is the fuel for investments and ultimately for jobs.
The 2nd bottomline is our own institution – how we shape our organisational values, and build our people.
Businesses are in the frontline of technological change. In this age of disruption, it must be a shared responsibility between businesses, governments and our labour movements to help reskill and upskill our workforce for the future. We must help prepare our workforce for the exciting, but unsettling, world of change ahead.
Do we willingly accept the responsibility to grow and develop our people, even beyond their tenure in our own companies?
The 3rd bottomline is our wider community – how we contribute, as businesses, to a fair, equitable and sustainable future for all; how we find solutions to make a difference, to be more inclusive, to make life better.
In conclusion, I leave you with three thoughts:
First, the UN Sustainable Development Goals – these are the collective aspirations of 193 countries around the world, to bring about a better world by 2030. That’s not too far away: twelve years. As businesses, are we ready to play our part? Which of the SDGs do we embrace, foster and champion in our own businesses?
Second, Ecosperity twins ecology and prosperity for a sustainable future. Prosperity at the expense of our environment is a false prosperity, and vice versa.
Are we ready to embrace ecology and prosperity, hand in hand? Are we ready to build a sustainable business for the longer term, and a better, more inclusive, ABC World for everyone?
Third, businesses are also stewards of our common future – are we ready to deliver not just one but three bottomlines?
Are we ready as businesses to partner governments and our wider community to foster a fairer, more equitable and more sustainable world? Are we ready to define actionable triple bottomlines for our respective businesses?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Gadigal people, traditional stewards of this land, have a word for a dream – Nangami.
The Ecosperity of an ABC World for all of us, today and tomorrow, is not just a Nangami, a dream. We can, and we must, work hard to make our Nangami, our dreams, of a better world a reality.
Thank you again for joining Lucy and me this morning, and have a very good breakfast!
1The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals represent the collective interest of 193 countries to bring about a better world by 2030. These goals were launched in 2015.
2The Business for Sustainable Development Commission “Better Business, Better World” report was led by CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, and former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown.
3The study referenced economic opportunities across food & agriculture; cities; energy & materials; and health & well-being.
4The Asia Report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission cites more than US$5 trillion in investment opportunities in Asia arising from the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. US$2.3 trillion of that will be in China, and another US$1.1 trillion in India. US$1.1 trillion will be available in ASEAN and emerging south East Asian nations, while the balance of US$0.7 trillion will be available in the mature economies, such as Japan and Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and other nations.
5The Ecosperity Conference is in its 5th edition, and is held on or around the UN Environment Day on 5 June.
6The ABC World bundles the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into three broad aspects: A for Active economy of good jobs and affordable housing; B for Beautiful society with equal opportunities and inclusive growth; and C for Clean environment of clean air, clear waters, and cool earth for a sustainable future for all.