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ESG is becoming increasingly important for businesses, investors, consumers, and society as a whole, as it reflects the values and goals of a more responsible and inclusive world.

 

ESG is not just a buzzword or a trend, but a paradigm shift that is reshaping the world of business and society. ESG is a way of thinking and acting that considers the long-term impacts and benefits of our actions on the environment, society, and governance. ESG is a way of creating value and meaning for ourselves and others, by aligning our goals and values with those of a more responsible and inclusive world. ESG is a way of making a difference and leaving a positive legacy for future generations.

 

The Five Aspects

Let’s look at the five aspects that are relevant to your daily life and your next generation with the reference to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs):

 

1.   How ESG can drive innovation and growth in the post-pandemic era:

The global system has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed its weaknesses and injustices. The crisis has also shown the urgency of finding more durable and responsible solutions. ESG can help businesses and investors cope with the new realities and possibilities that emerge from the crisis, by stimulating innovation, improving efficiency, lowering risks, and generating value for all stakeholders. We are witnessing how ESG has been helping various sectors and industries change their business models and practices to succeed in the post-pandemic era.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

  • SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  • SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

 

2.  How ESG can empower women and girls in developing countries:

Women and girls face multiple barriers and challenges in accessing education, health care, economic opportunities, and human rights in many parts of the world. ESG can help address these issues by supporting initiatives that promote gender equality, empower women and girls, and improve their well-being and livelihoods. It would be inspiring to see how ESG can close the gender gap via microfinance, education, health care, clean energy, and digital inclusion.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 1: No poverty

  • SDG 2: Zero hunger

  • SDG 3: Good health and well-being

  • SDG 4: Quality education

  • SDG 5: Gender equality

  

3. How ESG can combat climate change and biodiversity loss:

The planet and its inhabitants are facing serious environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. These challenges endanger the well-being and prosperity of our world. ESG can help address these challenges by motivating businesses and investors to adopt green strategies, invest in clean energy sources, minimize waste and pollution, preserve natural resources, and safeguard ecosystems and wildlife. Personally, I am very much looking forward to seeing how ESG can help accomplish the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

  • SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

  • SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

  • SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

  • SDG 13: Climate action

  • SDG 14: Life below water

  • SDG 15: Life on land


4. How ESG can promote human rights and social justice:

Human rights and social justice are fundamental values that underpin a fair and democratic society. However, many people around the world still suffer from discrimination, oppression, violence, and injustice due to their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other factors. ESG can help advance human rights and social justice by supporting businesses and investors that respect human dignity, diversity, inclusion, and democracy. ESG can help uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

 

5. How ESG can shape the future of work:

The culture of work is undergoing a transformation due to technological innovations, demographic changes, globalization, and social movements. These changes create both opportunities and challenges for workers, employers and society. ESG can help influence the future of work by creating a culture of learning, creativity, collaboration, and well-being in the workplace. We expect ESG will keep improving the skills, productivity, satisfaction, health, safety, and diversity of workers in different sectors and occupations.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

  • SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure



Other than the five areas above, ESG can also help us overcome the barriers and risks that hinder our progress and potential, such as inequality, poverty, corruption, violence, and injustice.

 

However, ESG is not something that we can achieve overnight or by ourselves. ESG requires collective action and collaboration from all stakeholders, across sectors, industries, regions, and cultures. ESG requires vision and leadership from those who can inspire and influence others to join the movement. ESG requires commitment and accountability from those who can implement and monitor the changes. ESG requires education and awareness from those who can inform and empower others to make informed choices.

 

ESG is not Only a Responsibility, but also an Opportunity

An opportunity to create a better world for ourselves and others. An opportunity to make a positive impact on the issues that matter most to us. An opportunity to be part of the solution, not the problem.

 

There is an old proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best time to plant a tree is now.” The same applies to ESG. We may not be able to undo the past, but we can shape the future. We may not be able to solve all the problems at once, but we can start somewhere. We may not be able to change the world by ourselves, but we can change ourselves for the world.

 

The time to act on ESG is now. The time to plant the seeds of change is now. The time to make a difference is now.

 

 Author: Shing Lee, Certified ESG Planner - ICSD


This article is included in "ESG - An Illuminating Journey," a book put together by ICSD. The book offers a range of articles about ESG issues, written by Certified ESG Planners from different fields. If you're interested in learning more about ESG, we suggest buying this book. 


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