MANILA, PHILIPPINES — SM Investments Corporation (SM Investments) broadened its reach in gathering like-minded business leaders in the ASEAN region, encouraging them to operate sustainably even amid the challenges triggered by the global health crisis as it partnered with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in this year’s GRI-SM ASEAN Sustainability E-Summit held on Oct. 21 and 22.
The event took a more precise look at the lasting impact of operating sustainably with four sessions, each focusing on the different pillars that will help build resilient communities and provide a better future for stakeholders.
The two-day E-summit with the theme “Leaving No One Behind: Private Sector in Solidarity for Sustainable COVID-19 Recovery and Delivering the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)” set the sustainability agenda for 2022 in a bid to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change on the planet with the help of its new generation of leaders and by recognizing the lessons business giants learned in the 19 months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared globally. SM enjoined key leaders in the region to adopt sustainable business practices, recalibrate their business models and promote solidarity in sustainability reporting.
Through SM’s initiative, business and sustainability leaders across ASEAN caught a glimpse of how SM Supermalls was able to simultaneously operate and prioritize the well-being of its internal and external stakeholders, including communities in which their businesses stand.
“In the Philippines, malls are a public service. Malls provide access to essential goods and services. We anticipate that there will be enduring changes triggered by the pandemic and we see these enduring changes as new opportunities to be of service. We are reimagining new ways to be of service to people, to businesses of all sizes, to the local communities that our malls belong to, and ultimately to the country and the planet we share,” says SM Supermalls President Steven Tan.
To move closer toward sustainable development, there is a need to accelerate action on modern renewable energy and promote sustained and inclusive economic growth.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, SM Supermalls continued to ramp up their use of renewable energy. In August, SM completed a series of solar panel projects, with a total of 8 malls with solar power in the following locations: the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Cauayan, Cabanatuan, Iloilo, Tuguegarao, Trece Martires, and Bacoor in Cavite, and Seaside City Cebu.
SM is also working its way to divert plastic waste from oceans and landfills by initiating collection programs in its malls scattered in the country that have become venues to collect empty, clean, and dried plastic waste, bringing these closer to customers and communities.
Now that the pandemic has increased people’s reliance on technology, increasing electronic waste has also become a perennial problem. To help address this, SM malls nationwide established collection areas for electronic waste that will be processed and segregated.
However, the pandemic has also amplified a fundamental truth about modern society: everyone is interconnected. To make businesses sustainable over the long-term and to provide a greener future for all, SM recognizes that leaders need to think of many other people and their concerns–not just profitability amid unprecedented times.
“All these efforts come from the belief that service is essential during a pandemic. We are thankful that our stakeholders are fully aligned with this belief. Our chairman himself, Mr. Hans Sy, has expressed this belief on record by saying that in these times, profit is secondary to shared prosperity. We must help one another rise above these unprecedented times because this is to revitalize the economy for all of us Filipinos. In the end, this is what the pandemic has been teaching us: We are all interconnected; our shared fortunes depend on each other. That’s why the only way out of this pandemic is together,” Tan says.
SM envisions an entire ecosystem of sustainable businesses that contribute toward a green, prosperous environment that provides a better future for stakeholders. By putting emphasis on sustainable development and integrating these goals into the foundation of SM Supermalls’ blueprints, it is encouraging more businesses to operate sustainably while protecting the environment.