19th May 2020 – Global Compact Network Malaysia in collaboration with our peer Local Networks from Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines held an Asia-Pacific regional webinar today, featuring Bain & Co.’s Global Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Head, Jenny Davis-Peccoud on the topic “Covid-19 Gives Sustainability a Dress Rehearsal”.

If you missed it, here’s a recording of it: https://youtu.be/brKnlqgqGPU

Key points:

1. Opinions differ on whether the effects of the crisis will slow efforts towards sustainability:
– There are short term headwinds that will add difficulty to long term sustainability efforts – changing economics, the inertia of negative trends, diversion of attention, and lack of capital
– However, there are also tailwinds that are propelling sustainability efforts – investor support (ESG-linked securities outperformed the market by 7% from February to today; 44% of the top quartile of companies are ESG-linked), purpose (companies with strong purpose are more attractive to employees and customers, and outgrow peers by 6 times), topic areas such as health and wellness, supply chains and climate change have been garnering more attention during the crisis, as well as redefined relationships with governments and stakeholders.

2. Many business leaders are reaffirming their commitment towards sustainability:
By establishing commitment to net zero carbon by 2050, reaffirming their own commitment to sustainable growth and purpose, and calling for action and leadership across the business community.

3. Covid-19 disruption serves as a dress rehearsal for climate change:
Responses to the Covid-19 crisis such as significant supply chain disruption, external collaboration with the government, and business retooling to remain relevant are the same actions required to slow or negate the climate crisis.

4. The crisis highlights the need to move beyond prediction to adaptation and resilience:
Beyond merely identifying the right scenarios and assigning the right probabilities, to designing the business to rapidly adapt and be resilient to these scenarios.

5. Companies need to act now to protect and run the business and plan now to improve its resilience for the future
– Acting now entails treating employees fairly, doing right by the customers, helping the broader community, and integrating a sustainability lens into actions taken today.
– Planning now entails maintaining positive actions taken today, taking advantage of M&A to build critical capabilities, reviewing risk assessments based on the crisis, and anticipating new sustainability-driven opportunities.

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