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  • Writer's pictureCGM

Director's Masterclass Series: Session 3-6:Leveraging Nature’s Wealth for Business Sustainability

On June 13th, 2024, industry leaders convened for the "Director's Masterclass Series 2024: Leveraging Nature's Wealth for Business Sustainability” at Bursa Malaysia, under the Public Listed Companies Transformation (PLCT) Program. This Masterclass emphasized the incorporation of biodiversity into corporate strategies, highlighting its pivotal role in promoting sustainable business practices.

Datin Seri Sunita Rajakumar, Chairperson of Climate Governance Malaysia, inaugurated the session by underscoring a pivotal shift in corporate ethos: transitioning from mere emission reduction to embracing nature-positive strategies. She emphasized the increasing significance of integrating biodiversity into corporate frameworks, noting how businesses are recognizing that preserving and enhancing biodiversity can foster long-term sustainability and resilience.

Following her address, Aina Zahari, Director of Corporate Strategy at Bursa Malaysia, expressed regrets over Tan Sri Wahid's absence and highlighted that 25% of over 1000 Public Listed Companies (PLCs) had enrolled in the PLC Transformation program. This milestone signifies a significant stride towards embedding sustainability into business operations, with these companies now actively aligning their practices with sustainability objectives. Additionally, the introduction of Malaysia's inaugural nature-based product on the Bursa Carbon Exchange, set for auction the following month, was heralded as a pioneering effort in integrating nature into market mechanisms. This product is expected to provide new opportunities for companies to invest in and promote biodiversity.

Faizal Parish, Director of the Global Environment Centre, took the stage to outline the session's structure, which featured discussions and examples illustrating the critical nexus between biodiversity, human wellbeing, and economic prosperity. Faizal underscored how biodiversity supports essential ecosystem services crucial for human survival and economic activities, such as water purification, pollination, and climate regulation.

The session also highlighted the substantial risks associated with biodiversity loss, including disruptions in supply chains, regulatory pressures, and damage to corporate reputations. The World Economic Forum's classification of biodiversity loss as a high-risk factor underscored the urgency for businesses to adopt biodiversity-focused practices. Such losses can lead to significant business risks, such as shortages in raw materials, increased costs, and compliance challenges.

Faizal Parish presented a comprehensive framework for corporate biodiversity management, which includes:

1. Assessing the Biodiversity Footprint: Understanding how business activities impact biodiversity. This involves conducting biodiversity audits and impact assessments across operations and supply chains.

2. Setting Goals: Establishing clear objectives to reduce or offset biodiversity impacts. Companies should create measurable, time-bound targets aligned with broader sustainability goals, aiming for no net loss or net positive impact on biodiversity.

3. Integrating into Strategy: Embedding biodiversity considerations into the core business strategy. This ensures biodiversity goals are integrated into overall strategic planning and decision-making processes.

4. Engaging Stakeholders: Collaborating with stakeholders in biodiversity efforts. This includes employees, suppliers, customers, and local communities to garner support and drive collective action for biodiversity conservation.

5. Monitoring and Reporting: Regularly tracking biodiversity status and management activities. Transparent reporting using standardized metrics and frameworks helps build credibility and accountability in biodiversity initiatives.

6. Extending Efforts to the Supply Chain: Promoting biodiversity management throughout the supply chain. Companies should work with suppliers to adopt sustainable practices, set biodiversity criteria, and support them in meeting these standards.

Examples of multinational companies investing in biodiversity highlighted practical applications of these steps. These companies showcased their efforts in habitat restoration, sustainable sourcing, and conservation projects that align with both business and environmental goals. These initiatives illustrated how biodiversity strategies can drive innovation, enhance brand reputation, and open up new business opportunities.

Faizal also emphasized the critical role of peatlands as carbon sinks and the challenges associated with managing and restoring these ecosystems. Peatlands play a crucial role in carbon sequestration, and their degradation can lead to significant carbon emissions. Successful peatland restoration projects in Malaysia and Indonesia were highlighted, demonstrating effective strategies and tangible benefits. Faizal stressed the importance of continued investment in peatland restoration to achieve climate and biodiversity objectives, noting how restoring peatlands can mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, and support local communities.

Alternatives to oil palm cultivation on peatlands were explored, including sustainable agroforestry and ecotourism, which offer viable income-generating options while preserving peatland ecosystems. The ASEAN Investment Framework for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management was also discussed, outlining new opportunities and frameworks for integrating biodiversity into financial strategies. This framework aims to provide clear guidelines for investors and companies on sustainable finance practices.

Faizal’s Masterclass on Biodiversity served as a compelling reminder of the critical role biodiversity plays in sustainable business practices. By integrating nature's wealth into corporate strategies, businesses can mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities for growth and sustainability. The event underscored the importance of proactive biodiversity management and highlighted the transformative potential of nature-positive corporate strategies. Attendees left with a clear understanding of how to incorporate biodiversity into their business models and a commitment to making biodiversity a cornerstone of their sustainability efforts.

Click here for the recordings and slides


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