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Datin Sunita's viewpoints: What are the primary challenges confronting business sustainability and humanity in the upcoming decade?

It is now obvious that Earth cannot support both population growth and economic growth based on extractive industries. Transformational policies are needed, including rapid growth in renewable energy, accelerated sustainable food chains, active reduction in inequalities, and investments in education for climate literacy, awareness, reskilling, and creating new jobs. From my perspective, engaging closely with many stakeholders over the last few years, our biggest challenge is recognizing the rapid change in understanding and thinking, or paradigm shifts. Critical thinking skills are needed when facing uncharted territories, especially in a crisis that requires all of the government and all of society to step up.

What are the paradigm shifts we are looking at? Take electricity, for example. At one point, the conversation was around converting kilojoules to kilowatts, rewarding high-density sources of fuel. But when you look at the challenge from the perspective of the carbon footprint throughout the entire value chain, suddenly, other sources of energy become far more competitive, sustainable, and attractive for society.

Another example is IPCC targets, based on long-term averages, essentially 30 years. But if we already hit 1.45 degrees of warming last year, with consecutive days reaching 1.5 or even 2 degrees, do we need to wait for 30 years before acting? The pricing of carbon is another example. Half of the emission reductions needed to reach net zero come from technologies not yet on the market. Energy efficiency is crucial, and there should be more attention and resources focused on it.

Many business leaders are stepping up at Climate Governance Malaysia and with LEN at the CEO Action Network. They see this as a massive competitive advantage, especially when they have a deeper understanding of the needed changes. Many of them are already ahead of government policymaking.

For businesses, they want to be seen as the trusted partner, the business partner of choice. They are coming up with simple, elegant, hyper-localized solutions. These are clear-eyed, honest brokers who are open to deeper and wider consultations.

The role of civil society is critical, especially when there is no silver bullet solution. These are the critical challenges we are facing.

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