The Second International ESG Forum 2024 by UTAR

The 2nd International Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Forum 2024

The Second International Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Forum 2024, themed Implementing Closed-Loop Systems: Transforming Waste into Resources, was successfully held on 5 June 2024 via Zoom. Organised by the UTAR ESG and SGDs Committee, along with the Department of Soft Skills Competency (DSSC) and the Office of International Affairs (OIA), the forum brought together renowned speakers and experts to discuss critical issues related to sustainability and resource management.

The forum commenced with a welcome speech by UTAR President Ir Prof Dato’ Ewe Hong Tat, who highlighted the importance of sustainable practices and universities’ pivotal role in driving ESG initiatives. He stated, “Your presence here today is a testament to your commitment to sustainability, and together, we can create a ripple effect that transcends borders and transforms lives.”

Prof Dato’ Ewe delivering his welcome speech at the opening ceremony

Senior Manager at SinoCarbon Innovation and Investment Co. Ltd. and Marketing Director at Rankins (Beijing) Consulting Co. Ltd. Prof Zhou Yu delivered the first keynote speech, “An overview of Chinese ESG ecosystem”. With a background from Tsinghua University in sustainability and environmental governance, Prof Zhou provided an in-depth analysis of ESG development in China. He traced its evolution from 18th-century ethical investments to modern socially responsible investments, highlighting key players such as regulators, investors, rating agencies, and practitioners. He also discussed the role of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) in creating global sustainability disclosure standards and stressed the importance of consistent and transparent ESG reporting. Prof Zhou showcased China’s advancements in ESG disclosure, particularly among its A-share listed companies.

Keynote Speaker Prof Zhou Yu sharing his views

Following the keynote speech, Session A focused on “Climate change mitigation strategies for businesses”. It was moderated by the Chairperson of the Centre for Advanced and Sustainable Materials Research, Assoc Prof Dr Steven Lim. The session featured three distinguished speakers.

The speakers for Session A

Mr Simone Galimberti, Co-founder of ENGAGE and The Good Leadership, addressed the role of businesses in mitigating climate change, highlighting the importance of social inclusion and adaptive sports in sustainability efforts.

Dr Tee Wu Shun, Chief Strategy Officer at Samaiden Sdn Bhd, shared insights into Samaiden’s strategies for integrating ESG principles into their business operations, showcasing successful initiatives and their positive impact on sustainability.

Mr Sathis Venkitasamy, Senior Programme Officer at Global Environment Centre, emphasised the significance of river basin management and community engagement in promoting environmental sustainability.

Session A speakers (clockwise, from top left): Mr Sathis, Dr Steven Lim, Dr Tee and Mr Simone

After a lunch break, the forum resumed with a keynote address by Ms Grace Kwok, the Chairman and Executive Director of Allied Sustainability & Environmental Consultants Group Limited. Ms Kwok, with over 20 years of experience in acoustics, environmental, and sustainability consultancy, provided valuable insights into the implementation of ESG practices within businesses, highlighting the importance of transparency and governance in promoting sustainable development. She discussed key milestones in international climate policy, such as establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), adopting the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. Ms Kwok also outlined the vision of the Paris Agreement, focusing on limiting global warming to well below 2°C, enhancing corporate and social resilience, and investing in low-carbon and climate-resilient projects. Furthermore, she elaborated on the role of the ISSB and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) in standardising sustainability reporting and integrating nature-related risks and opportunities into financial decision-making.

Ms Grace Kwok sharing her experience with the participants

Session B, titled "Circular economy and sustainable supply chains”, was moderated by Dr Liew Ping Xin, an academic at the Department of Finance, Faculty of Accountancy and Management, UTAR. Dr Liew, who is pivoting into ESG-related research, introduced the session’s speakers.

Dr Lai Fook Chuan, a Chartered Building Engineer and Fellow at the Chartered Association of Building Engineers UK, explored innovative materials and construction techniques that support circular economy principles, emphasising sustainable concrete and polymers.

Puan Shareen Dato’ Abdul Ghani, Managing Director and Founder of Sorga Innovation, highlighted the development of sustainability policies and strategies, advocating for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Prof Albert Teo, Dean and Professor at the School of Management, Tung Wah College, discussed integrating ESG practices within management education, focusing on social entrepreneurship and community development.

The speakers for Session B (clockwise, from top left): Dr Liew, Puan Shareen, Prof Albert and Dr Lai

The forum concluded with remarks by UTAR Vice President for Student Development and Alumni Relations Prof Dr Choong Chee Keong, who highlighted the importance of collective action in addressing environmental challenges. He urged participants to turn insights into tangible actions, stating, “Let us harness the power of collective action to transform waste into a valuable resource.” Prof Choong also expressed gratitude to all speakers, sponsors, participants, and organisers for the forum’s success.

Prof Choong (left) delivering his closing remarks

A video presentation highlighted the key moments of the forum, and a final group photograph marked the end of the event.

Snapshots of the speakers and participants from the 2nd International ESG Forum

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