September 22, 2015

Will CSR Asia Summit 2015 Yield Sustainability for Malaysia?

Will CSR Asia Summit 2015 Yield Sustainability for Malaysia?

Kuala Lumpur city center by peternguyen11 @pixabay

The annual CSR Asia Summit is coming to Kuala Lumpur this year, where businesses will discuss how they can contribute to social good, sustainable development and efforts to protect the environment surrounding them.

Recognized as the most innovative and thought-provoking conference on CSR (corporate social responsibility) in Southeast Asia, the event focuses on sustainable business strategies.  This is a topic of great importance in Malaysia especially, as the country has a history of corporations that sacrifice societal benefit and environmental protection for profits and unhindered expansion.

This year’s event will focus on three main themes: Development Challenges, Human Resources and Workplaces, and The Environment and Sustainability.  The proceedings will include important refocusing of business priorities, as well as awareness-raising and goal-setting activities for big businesses in Malaysia and Asia in general.

Given the current state of Malaysia’s business scene, some priority refocusing is certainly in order.  Human rights abuses are common among employers of migrant workers, who are paying illegal wages, forcing workers to live in miserable conditions, beating them and often confiscating their passports so they have no means of escape.  Damages from last year’s annual floods topped RM1 billion ($236 million), suggesting that climate change should be a big issue as sea-level rise and fluctuating temperatures continue to worsen storms, floods and droughts that cripple communities, economic development and of course the natural environment.  And proper forest management is a sore spot considering that illegal slash-and-burn peat fires are even now raging across Indonesia, choking Malaysia and Singapore, and billowing massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Last year’s summit in Tokyo netted some important developments, including the launch of the Channel NewsAsia Sustainability Ranking.  The first of its kind in Asia, this ranking system identifies leading firms in sustainability and CSR and encourages lagging firms to shape up.

‘Shaping up’, or recognizing the need to enhance sustainability measures, would be a welcome theme for the CSR Asia Summit 2015 – the future of Malaysia depends upon it.

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