An All-Encompassing Mindset

James Sammut, Partner & Chief Sustainability Officer at NOUV

Winter is meant to be the season of coats, keeping warm and staying indoors. Instead, we keep witnessing abnormally warm days. Except for a short rainy spell in November, last Winter was an extension of the previous season, characterised by unexpectedly sunny weather and climaxing with a balmy Christmas.

I can only think of one plausible reason for this: the relationship between humans and earth continues to become increasingly disruptive. And the more disruption I see, the more convinced I become of the work we are doing to push companies for more sustainable operations.

It is high time for mankind to understand that if things remain the same, we are bound to experience severe climate conditions. We all need to do our part, grow up and disrupt the way of doing things. This is why ESG principles will eventually lead to better societies.

Having said that, although the values of ESG were introduced with all the good intentions, there are many who have started to feel this concept is already sounding abused and overused.

It is good to incentivise and allocate funds for private enterprise to actively engage in ESG and related best practice, but the first key step is educated awareness of the principles and raison d’etre of ESG.

In our work in this sector, we are seeing a lot of interest from scoped organisations who are looking into ESG to effectively honour some of the expectations that their stakeholders, rightly so, expect from them. I also find encouraging the fact that they not only seek ways and means to establish and implement actions, but they are also asking for professional advice.

Which brings me to my second point; that although we are seeing a lot being done by the corporate sector in terms of ESG, this does not mean that climate change will be solved only by businesses. Governments have a vital role to play because they are the ones who can empower whole societies through education, policies and enforcement. Locally, government needs to consider the setting up of a competent authority assigned to regulate ESG. The earlier this is set up the better for all interested parties.

The ESG market is a sizeable one and one hopes that and in due time, all organisations will find themselves roped in. It is the duty of all businesses to persist with their commitment to the highest standards, to partner with industry experts and to provide products and services that are more sustainable.

Whether it is for profit or not for profit, there are many organisations who want to be deeply committed to sustainability and a better environment. The biggest challenge remains the mindset because we got too accustomed to the need for incentives and financial rewards to do what is right or to act more responsibly.

This is why many companies could still be looking at ESG as a cost rather than as an investment for a better future. We need to look at things long-term and businesses need to understand that in the very near future, companies and their resoective stakeholders will start to be assessed on their ESG commitments and outcomes.

My hope lies with the current young generations who seem more environmentally conscious, and carry a stronger emotional value when it comes to the environment’s protection. Major companies need to bear this in mind because these younger generations are tomorrow’s shareholders and investors.

Organisations will soon be obliged to embed ESG practices across all their supply chain including all their external service providers of products and services.

This will definitely happen, and the spill-over effect is going to be huge. Only by adopting a proactive mindset towards environment and sustainability will prepare us for this shift.