Sustainability needs more than ESG compliance, says expert

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Achieving sustainability requires more than just adherence to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, according to Rajeev Peshawaria, CEO of Stewardship Asia Centre. Speaking at a conference in Bangkok this week, Peshawaria emphasised that a genuine desire for a better future is crucial.

The ESG framework, which has been around since the 1990s, is proving effective in some areas but is not sufficient on its own. Peshawaria pointed out that many businesses engage in greenwashing to avoid regulatory trouble and that regulations typically only enforce the bare minimum of responsible behaviour.

“Regulations may minimise harm, but they do not maximise good.”

The Stewardship Asia Centre CEO further criticised the current business climate, saying that most companies profit from existing challenges rather than creating profitable solutions to those challenges. Instead of focusing solely on ESG, Peshawaria proposed a shift to ESL, where “L” stands for steward leadership. This concept embodies a genuine desire to create a better future for stakeholders, society, and future generations.

“The solution lies in ‘doing well by doing good.’ Businesses have to make money and grow, but they need to do so by addressing the very challenges that are threatening humanity today: climate change, inequality, and cybercrimes. Only then will the future of our children be secure.”

Peshawaria highlighted the Doi Tung Development Project under the Mae Fah Luang Foundation as an exemplary model of prioritising societal and environmental values. Initiated to transform the northern region’s economy from opium production to sustainable agriculture, the project has built a profitable business based on value-driven concepts. This approach has significantly contributed to its long-term success.

Peshawaria stressed that tackling today’s existential challenges requires genuine dedication and innovation that cannot be legislated or driven solely by extrinsic incentives, reported Bangkok Post.

In related news, the deputy interior minister visited Lamphun to inaugurate the Sustainable Community Income Development Project and encourage provincial development officers. The event took place on Thursday, June 13, at the Ministry of Interior Market Organisation’s Lamphun branch (Central Tunnel Market).

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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