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Greater Bay Area set to lead in sustainability

By: 2020/3/13 11:21:47
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After taking the lead in economic development over the past several decades, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will also be "the most dynamic" area for promoting sustainability among businesses as they move to a higher level, officials, experts and scholars told a conference recently.

"Companies in this area were pioneers in answering the questions of corporate social responsibility, because of requests and demands from international brands. Today, the Greater Bay Area is still the most dynamic area where brands, suppliers, NGOs and industrial organizations are working proactively to continue making progress on sustainability issues, such as decent work culture, environmental protection, occupational safety and collective consultation," Anders Wollter, minister counselor and head of Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility of Embassy of Sweden in Beijing, said.

"This area will surely be early to adopt new smart ways to harness CSR and sustainability by not only using it defensively to mitigate risks but also using it proactively as a driver for new business models and core business strategies," he said at International Sustainability Conference in Guangdong held in Shenzhen on Thursday.

"Because the Greater Bay Area is a leading force for China's innovative development. Technology and innovation – also social innovation - can provide tools to boost sustainable development," he said.

Brian Henderson, chief operating officer of Baker McKenzie Asia, stressed the importance of talent in the process and called for inclusiveness.

Some key industries in the Greater Bay Area such as financial services, engineering, and healthcare rely on STEM-based capabilities, he said. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math, which most people believe men are better at.

"If only four percent of girls are planning to take up those subjects through to their career, you are really missing out on a lot of talent," Henderson said.

Noting that talent is highly important in driving those businesses, he urged businesses to be more "inclusive and make sure that we attract and retain the very best people".

Zhang Yalong, executive vice-director of Shenzhen Institute of Sustainable Development, said awareness on sustainable business is growing among companies in the Greater Bay Area, but it still takes time to form a "collective force" to promote its development.

"We need to implant the concept of sustainability into businesses from the root — through industrial and technological innovation, so that we can build a sustainable industrial chain and create a sustainable mode of economic growth," Zhang said.

He added that Shenzhen's emerging industries, which are role models in sustainable business, have become mature and they will radiate to other parts of the industrial chain to help build a sustainable network in the region.

According to a report jointly published by China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Columbia University, AliResearch and Social Sciences Academic Press in August, of the top 10 Chinese cities in sustainable development last year, Greater Bay Area cities took up three spots, with Zhuhai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou ranking the first, second and fifth, respectively.

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