Research: Demand for CSR among Millennials

Sheikh Shabab Ahmed on Bangladesh’s Largest Private Afforestation Program

BAT Bangladesh has been working since 1980 with its flagship afforestation program that aims to raise awareness about importantce of greener environment”

What is the success mantra for rolling out CSR initiatives?

To ensure the successful implementation of CSR initiatives, the most important thing is to have a road map for the long-term sustainability of the plan. The initiative should align itself with the bigger picture e.g. national agenda, SDGs. For this, a company needs to identify the right partners for proper implementation. Working in partnership has always been central to BAT Bangladesh’s sustainability agenda. As many of the biggest sustainability challenges being faced today can’t be addressed in isolation, we have been delivering our ESG projects in partnership with the government, local communities, academic institutions, industry associations and peer communities. For instance, we are running the country’s largest private sector-driven afforestation program in partnership with the Ministry of Environment (MoE), Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU), the Armed Forces and many other renowned institutions. Lastly, ensuring robust governance is a must in terms of maintaining documentation and generating periodic reports. This will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the initiatives through exposure to relevant stakeholders. Keeping this in mind, BAT Bangladesh has recently launched the first edition of its ESG report, which is a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainability.

How can you improve the livelihood of people through CSR?

To ensure sustainable development, it is imperative to follow a whole-of-society approach. Inclusivity across all levels of society, especially marginalized groups, will lead the country to sustainable development. Focusing on this, BAT Bangladesh has been working since 1980 on its flagship afforestation program that aims to raise awareness about the importance of a greener environment. To date the program has distributed 115 million fruit, forestry, and medical plant saplings to 30,000 beneficiaries, annually, free of cost. Our clean drinking water initiative has been providing safe drinking water to rural communities since 2009, especially in arsenic-prone rural communities. The project is providing 570,000 litres of pure drinking water to over 280,000 beneficiaries daily, across 22 districts. We are also working to provide renewable energy solutions to people in remote locations of Chattogram Hill Tracts by providing electricity through solar panels to families in off-grid areas. Since its inception in 2011, 2591 solar home systems have been installed across 25 villages in hilly districts. With a clean energy source, over 15000 plus beneficiaries have improved their livelihoods, allowing women to sew clothing, make handicrafts, knit, and process turmeric etc after dark. I believe having more initiatives like these that cater to the needs of the marginalized people of our society, we will be able to improve the livelihoods of people and materialize our Honorable Prime Minister’s dream of becoming a High-Income Country (HIC) by 2041.

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