Research: Demand for CSR among Millennials

Sustainability stalwarts crowned

6 firms, 3 individuals awarded by The Daily Star and CSR Window Bangladesh

Six companies and three young humanitarians were felicitated yesterday at the 3rd Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards for their sustainable and socially impactful initiatives.

The Daily Star and the CSR Window Bangladesh honoured the firms to encourage corporates and individuals to take on projects that serve society and the environment.

Unilever Bangladesh’s Plastic Circularity for a Sustainable Bangladesh project won the award in the environment category, while Bata Shoe Company’s (Bangladesh) Bata Children’s’ program bagged the top award in the education segment.

Cement maker LafargeHolcim’s initiative Integrated Support in Chhatak Community took home the accolade in the Community Engagement, while Ashulia Women and Children Hospital, a project of Shanta Holdings, won the award in the healthcare category.

The Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards in Financial Inclusion went to Grameenphone for its GP Accelerator and GP Academy, while Banglalink Digital Communication won the award in the Disaster Response category.

Three young changemakers were also awarded as the Young Humanitarian of the Year: Arifur Rahman Shihab founder of Valo Kajer Hotel; Lamia Tanzim Tanha, founder and chief executive officer of TransEnd; and Arian Arif, founder of Mojar School.

Syed Manzur Elahi, chairman of Apex Group, handed over the awards to the winners at a ceremony held at Le Méridien Dhaka, the hospitality partner for the event.

“Sustainability is part of SDGs and this is very important — every company should prepare a sustainability report.”

Five years ago, design, capacity and payment terms were important to foreign buyers. Now, sustainability has become important.

“When we talk to our foreign buyers, we just want to show off that we have so many machines and we have so many export orders. They just wave at me and tell me to shut up literally. They are not interested in any of this. What is important to them is what we are doing about sustainability and what we are doing to reduce our carbon footprint.”

And it is not just lip service: the buyers do their own auditing to see whether the promised sustainability measures were actually being followed through, said Elahi, also a former advisor to a caretaker government.

The word sustainability should be compared with the word survival, said Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star.

“When we talk about sustainability, we talk about sustainability not only of processes and products but also of the planet. If the planet does not exist, our children and grandchildren will cease to exist. I wish the best for my grandchildren. But am I leaving the best future for them?”

All the biggest and the most famous cities were built on the banks of rivers.

“Now you have built your beautiful city on the bank of a river and then you pollute the water of the river that you give you water to drink. What sort of logic is that? What sort of development is that?”

Anam went on to request the corporates to examine how they can make their products and the markets sustainable.

While he appreciated the initiatives by corporates to appoint sustainability officers, he wanted to know if the officials were empowered enough.

Shehzad Munim, managing director and CEO of British American Tobacco Bangladesh, presented a keynote while there was a panel discussion at the event.

“ESG [Environmental, social, and corporate governance] commitments are driving consumer purchases and employee engagement. Companies in Bangladesh are pursuing ambitious ESG targets.”

An effective and inclusive committee and incentive for ESG adopters are needed to drive the sustainability agenda forward, Munim added.

The government should incentivise sustainability issues, said Shamima Akhter, director of Unilever Bangladesh’s corporate affairs, partnerships and communications.

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