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2020 Sustainable Development Goals Forum


The ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative cooperated with CommonWealth Magazine to arrange the full-day forum, which was recorded live for broadcast later. The forum was held to discuss progress and actions taken to meet the United Nation's (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The forum featured opening remarks by Wu Yin-chuen, President of CommonWealth Magazine and ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo and presentations in three sessions by the leaders of several multinational companies operating in Taiwan to achieve the SDGs.


The SDGs were proposed by the UN in 2015 as guidelines for countries of the world to actively work to achieve by 2030, including ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, ensuring clean water and sanitation, combating climate change, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns and more. Since then, governments and multinational corporations have been working continuously to develop and implement plans in line with the SDGs.


Session 1: Models for corporate sustainability


Moderator: Dr Alan Lin (Tze-luen), Deputy Executive Director, Office of Energy and Carbon Reduction, Executive Yuan


In his presentation, Martin Lindström, Group Director of Dairy Farm, Ikea shared Ikea's ambition to be part of creating a better life for people and the planet.


Ikea has been sourcing materials and products from Taiwan for 45 years. Lindström said that companies have a responsibility and obligation to take a stance on sustainability.


Ikea has set three roads forward: to be more accessible, more affordable and sustainable. The company's mission is to create a positive impact for people, society and the planet. To achieve this, it is working towards becoming a circular and climate positive business while at the same time making an impact and progress towards healthy and sustainable living. The company aims to not only be climate neutral but climate positive by 2030, meaning reducing more greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms than the entire Ikea value chain emits, while at the same time, growing its business.


Based on an internal evaluation of the company's climate footprint (of the entire value chain), the largest portion of carbon emissions is attributed to materials (40%) while the next largest contributor is product use (20%), followed by customer travel and home deliveries (11%). It is therefore on these activities that Ikea will concentrate the most on finding innovative solutions. This includes finding more sustainable materials, improving energy efficiency, repurposing goods and helping to save or even generate energy in homes.


Ikea has already been able to decouple growth from environmental impact by reducing its overall emissions while continuing to grow. However, there is still work to be done to become climate neutral and eventually climate positive.


Progress has already been made by using renewable energy in production but also by reducing the energy consumption of the products it sells (such as lights).


Lindström cited some other examples of innovative materials. For example, the company's reusable plastic bags are made of sugar cane in Taiwan. In addition to being of high quality and able to be reused, they also sell for a low price.


Another example is the company's curtains, which are made of recycled PET bottles in Taiwan. It takes six bottles to make one curtain.


In another ingenious innovation, the company is using recycled bubble tea cups to make reusable shopping bags.


Besides materials, Ikea is also looking to develop circular services. For example, it is working with Taipei 101 on a furniture-as-a-service leasing collaboration, whereby Ikea provides furniture, which it refurbishes when it is worn out so that it is not discarded but put back in the value chain.


Ikea is also developing products that enable people to live more sustainably, often working with social enterprises. Since one tenth of water is consumed in homes, an important initiative is to reduce water consumption. Ikea's water saving mist nozzle can reduce water use by more than 90%.


To help address the problem of air pollution in homes, Ikea has developed a curtain that uses energy from natural light to transform polluted air to clean air. The curtain has been treated with a mineral-based coating that purifies indoor air. Besides offering a new and simple way to clean air in the home, it is also attractive and affordable.


Ikea is also a large food provider. Given the large impact of the meat industry, the company is introducing more delicious plant-based food. For example, it has launched plant-based alternatives to traditional meat balls (veggie balls) and hot dogs (veggie dogs).


The company is also teaming up with social entrepreneurs to tackle a variety of problems. For example, it is working with NGOs in creating a centre to prolong product life (refurbish articles) so that they can be used for longer.


Lindström concluded that progress cannot be made in isolation. Ikea is determined to be an active driver and to work together with other stakeholders. He ended his presentation by quoting Ikea's founder Feodor Ingvar Kamprad, who said that "Most things remain to be done" but that if we work together it will be a glorious future.


In the Q&A session, Lindström said that sustainability is embedded throughout the company's plans and operations and the 17 SGDs are linked with Ikea's own goals. He stressed that Ikea does not only want to provide good products but also products that are desirable and affordable and that sustainability should not be expensive.


In terms of challenges in meeting its goals, Lindström said that you have to look at the whole value chain to identify areas for improvement and to find partners to collaborate with to achieve results, including governments, NGOs and other companies in the supply chain.


In his presentation, Joseph NC Huang, President of E.Sun Bank talked about how the bank is responding to SDGs, especially in the goals related to education (goal 4), gender equality (goal 5), decent work and economic growth (goal 8). In terms of goal 12 (responsible consumption and production, the bank stopped providing financing for coal-fired plants and instead provided a total of NT$38.5 billion in financing for sustainable industry, including renewable energy and the circular economy.


In her presentation, Eliza Li, General Manager and Partner, Sustainability Services for PwC Taiwan spoke about the status and challenges of meeting SDGs drawn from PwC's recent analysis of published reporting on the (SDGs) to date. For the firm's SDG Challenge 2019 report, it examined 1,141 company reports to find out how businesses are engaging with the SDGs. According to the report's introduction, the results suggested that, while there is a general acknowledgement of the importance of the goals, there is room for more concrete action to take place in support of the SDGs if the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030.


According to Li's, citing PwC's survey, 72% of companies mentioned SDGs and 21% of the companies made specific mention of the SDGs in the CEO or chairperson's statement, indicating that the goals are moving up the executive agenda. In addition, 25% of companies analysed mentioned the SDGs in sections of their reporting that discussed business strategy. However, only 1% of these companies' global reports set quantitative goals for SDGs and tracking the results.


Moreover, according to Li, the PwC Global SDGs survey found that most companies did not consider the impact of SDGs when formulating operational strategies. PwC believes that this is serious oversight and that the SDGs of governments and businesses should be integrated into their operating strategies.


PwC is therefore advising business leaders to incorporate thinking, planning and execution of SDGs into business operations, expand alliances with other players in industry, government and academia and to embrace innovation.


She went on to cite some examples of collaborations. For example, the Lion's Share Foundation promotes wildlife conservation and animal welfare by asking companies to donate a small portion of the advertising expenditures to a fund to protect animals and their habitats.


She concluded with an appeal to lead the change rather than be led by the change.


Session 2: Global partnerships and international cooperation


Moderator: Hsiao Fu-yuan, Senior Director of Research and Development & Editor-at-Large, New Business Department, CommonWealth Magazine


In his presentation, Eric Yu, General Manager & Global Vice President of Signify Taiwan introduced his company's approach to innovation and sustainability.


Signify is working towards sustainability in line with a number of SDGs, which the company has already integrated into its plans, including climate action, the circular economy, ensuring food availability, improving health and well-being and safety and security.


Since lighting is responsible for a large portion of energy consumption, reducing the energy consumption of lighting is Signify's main focus. According to Yu, the company has sold more LED products than any other company and it is continuing to improve LED energy efficiency, popularize smart connected lighting systems and innovative solar lighting solutions.


To reduce the use of plastic, the company is using recycled materials for its products and has launched plastic free packaging.


Given the need to feed a growing global population, more innovative agricultural solutions, such as vertical agriculture, will be needed. Signify has developed a light formula to improve crop yield and quality by 90% and reduce water consumption in vertical agriculture.


In recognition of the fact that light affects humans' circadian rhythms and that the type of light they use is important to productivity, Signify has developed lighting solutions that improve health and comfort.


Given that 70% of the world's population is projected to live in cities by 2050, improving information and personal safety in cities is critical. Statistics quoted by Yu show that improved lighting reduces both traffic accidents and crime in cities. Signify is providing solutions for smart connected road and tunnel lighting. To assist in improving information flow, the company has established Li-Fi optical communication leadership, a wireless communication technology which utilises light to transmit data and position between devices.


In his presentation, Anthony Lin, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, spoke about his company's foundation, Futuremakers, a global initiative to tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion. Futuremakers aims to raise US$50 million between 2019 and 2023 to empower the next generation to learn, earn and grow through programmes focusing on education, employability and entrepreneurship. The initiative is especially urgent at this time because more than 200 million young people are unemployed globally.


Futuremakers aims at meeting SDG goals 1 (no poverty), 4 (quality education), 8 (good jobs and growth) and 10 (reduced inequalities) through improving education, employability and developing entrepreneurs.


In his presentation, John Demers, General Manager of Atlas Copco Taiwan talked about how his company is leveraging the global nature of its operations to reach SDG goals. Given that the company is very decentralised, both in terms of production, services and geographical reach, it serves as a model for global partnerships.


The company's vision is to "To be First in Mind – First in Choice" for all stakeholders. Under this vision, the company's mission is to achieve sustainable and profitable growth. As the company has learnt, setting the vision first requires alignment and buy-in internally within the company and then with shareholders and suppliers, otherwise it will be very difficult to reach goals.


Growing in the right way means measuring success against a triple bottom line that includes people, planet and profit. Six focus areas enable the company to achieve its mission and vision: people, safety and well-being, the environment, products and services, profitability and ethics. Goals have been set in all six areas.


For example, in terms of the environment, the company's processes are designed to minimise the impact on the environment and use resources responsibly. All products and services must create lasting value and have a positive impact, which is why the company takes a life-cycle approach to innovation.


Every level of the organisation has responsibility for setting targets that help Atlas Copco reach its goals, and every level is accountable for results. All goals have measurable targets including profits, return on capital employed, the reduction of waste and impact on the environment. Products and services goals are all about designing products and services that aim to reduce environmental impact for users as well as the company.


Demers went on to talk about some examples of the company's global partnerships. Its "Water for All" programme was created by Swedish colleagues over 35 years ago. It began by helping a community in Peru to get access to clean water and improved facilities for sanitation and hygiene. Today, the programme can be found in almost 40 countries, including Atlas Copco Taiwan, which has funded several water projects in South-East Asia.


Under the programme, employee donations are matched by the company to give communities access to clean water. A recent project gave access to clean water to a school in Cambodia.


Atlas Copco has aggressive targets for CO2 emissions reductions in operations, including the transport of goods. Actions are all measured and results can be found in its annual report.


Session 3: Global trends and local implementation


In his presentation, Lawrence Wang, CEO of Carrefour Taiwan outlined how SDGs are integrated into Carrefour's global and local operations.


He stressed that the company's approach and promises are the same wherever it operates in the world: to serve, take care of, commit to, respect and involve all stakeholders, including customers, associates, shareholders, partners and the environment. The company refers to its suppliers as partners and its customers as guests.


In terms of working towards meeting SDG 2 (zero hunger), Carrefour has an ongoing programme to donate tonnes of food to food banks. According to Wang, as of 2019, the company had donated 380 tonnes of food to food banks. In spite of the substantial donations, the number of customers and sales at Carrefour continued to grow.


As part of efforts to meet goals 3 (good health and well-being) and 12 (responsible consumption and production), Carrefour was the first retailer in Taiwan to commit to cage-free eggs. When others followed suit, Carrefour did not see them as competitors but welcomed them as joining their efforts towards creating a more sustainable planet.


Carrefour has a strong bond with local farmers growing organic crops. Their efforts are helping to protect the environment and habitats of endangered species like frogs and leopard cats. Carrefour continues to cooperate with local banana and litchi farmers, whose average age is 82.


Local brands have great potential to succeed if they have their own stories that are well promoted. To illustrate his point, Wang quoted a French bread maker who, when answering a question as to why his bread was expensive, replied that he is not making bread but making culture. In the same way, Taiwanese brands have unique cultural characteristics that should be promoted. Carrefour is helping to promote such local brands by stocking more than 280 unique brands. For example, a local soy sauce maker takes six months to a year to make its soy sauce in the traditional and natural way compared to those brands using chemicals, which take just seven days. The company is also promoting local chocolate. According to Wang, the best chocolate is made from cocoa grown in Pingtung.


At the same time Carrefour is working to reduce plastic packaging in its products.


In conclusion, Wang said that Carrefour is dedicated to CSR and hoping that its success will positively influence their partner suppliers to work together to safeguard the environment.


In her presentation, Joyce Chen, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications Division at Fubon Financial Holding, spoke about how the bank is creating a positive cycle from the inside out, caring for employees, serving investors, giving back to society and creating a sustainable balance with the natural environment.


Among other efforts the company is providing financing to companies engaged in green industry activities and providing Taiwan's first agricultural insurance products, solar electronic equipment insurance and wind power installation insurance.