Kuala Lumpur, 22 April 2015 – In celebration of Earth Day, EcoKnights, Malaysia’s not-for-profit environmental organisation, kicked off its first inaugural forum themed ‘Corporate Leadership: The Battle For Sustainability’. The forum brought together key industry leaders to share insights on building sustainable businesses, and comprised Sage Software Managing Director, Michael Cho; Hijjas Kasturi Associates, Director, Serina Hijjas; The Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa Hotel, Managing Director, Anthony Wong; Digi Telecommunications, Sustainability Project Manager, Philip Ling and, Tanamera Tropical Spa Products, Managing Director, Faisal Fadzil.
EcoKnights President, Yasmin Rasyid explained, "The forum was about changing mindsets. It was also a platform to inspire businesses, specifically those in the Small-Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, to think about sustainability. The first step is understanding what sustainability is and how it can work for a business. For many, it can even come down to cost savings. Our speakers today comprised key industry leaders who have implemented a wide array of successful sustainable initiatives.”
Speaking from experience, Sage Software Managing Director, Michael Cho, demonstrated how the accounting management solutions and payroll software provider reduced wastage in both product packaging and internal business processes.
Cho revealed, “In making the change from physical packaging to reusable memory cards and Internet downloads of our software, we have managed to reduce wastage of over 100,000 DVDs and boxes per year. Internally, introducing electronic commerce in the form of invoicing and orders has also resulted in the reduction of 400,000 sheets of A4-size paper annually. Sustainability begins from within and it starts by thinking small and simple, with something that is within your control.”
On a larger scale, Digi Telecommunications’ Project Manager for Sustainability, Philip Ling, shared the company’s aspirations to be a thought leader in climate change. Ling shared how Digi Telecommunications advocates climate change through environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. Amongst other initiatives, include incorporating renewable technologies during its network modernisation exercise, housed operations in green buildings and created a sustainability criteria checklist for suppliers and sourcing.
The forum also featured, Tanamera a Malaysian brand that produces tropical spa products from 100 per cent plant-based ingredients and uses recyclable paper in its product packaging. Its Managing Director, Faisal Fadzil also shared with the audience how the organisation operated according to the three tenets, human-friendly, animal-friendly and earth-friendly, all of which are crucial pillars to Tanamera.
The Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa, Managing Director, Anthony Wong shared his passion for green practices, which spanned over 40 years and resulted in building Malaysia’s ‘greenest resort’. The resort and spa, which proactively practices the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ motto has successfully reduced consumption, wastage and increased effective energy usage, amongst others.
From the building and construction industry, Hijjas Architects & Planners Project Architect and Director, Serina Hijjas, presented the big picture on sustainability. According to Serina, there is a need to maintain an equilibrium between the built environment and nature; natural resources and demands; and energy and efficient use; and materials and recycling. Passive designs and the importance to adapting to the local climate and culture are also play a vital role towards ensuring sustainability.
The forum ended with a discussion centered around the motivating factors behind integrating sustainability in the respective organisations, and the impact of doing so to customers, employees and operating costs. In closing, several of the speakers spoke of the challenges and future of sustainability which included the need to change the mindsets of all involved, including customers.
Already thinking of the future, Yasmin Rasyid said, “We already have in the works other forums that will take place throughout this year. We want to show businesses in Malaysia that sustainability is not just crucial, but in the long term, beneficial. Our ultimate goal is to collaborate with entrepreneur-related agencies to produce a ‘guideline to sustainability’, through which we can reach out to SMEs to educate and encourage them to operate and manage their impacts sustainably. That is our hope.”
Giorgio Catucci, Principal Consultant at DHL IT Services Asia Pacific and EcoKnights volunteer, moderated the forum which was held at Whitebox, MAP Publika in Solaris Dutamas.