Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Batu Batu Resort
On day two of SB’22 Kuala Lumpur, leaders in construction, eco-tourism, artisanal goods, marketing and more highlighted successes and challenges behind
next-generation sustainability strategies — and the need for Malaysian brands to embrace collaboration for greater impact.
On Wednesday, Dato’ Sri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, Group Managing Director of
Boustead Holdings — a 197-year-old Malaysian
conglomerate operating in numerous sectors, from heavy industries to
pharmaceuticals — issued a bold call to action to attendees of Sustainable
that your companies are directly responsible for the challenges facing the
“Many organizations, including ours, have done many things in the past to
destroy the planet or harm social well-being,” Ramly said. He called for
repentance — a necessary step towards true sustainability. “Organizational
repentance requires changing our DNA and values of our corporation. Take serious
steps to change what the organization represents and reinvent corporations.”
Ramly’s call set the tone for day two of the virtual conference, which brought
together speakers and participants from across Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific
region. While the first day of the
focused on how the lessons of the past can inform the future of sustainability
post-pandemic, day two showcased Asian brands large and small that are showing
the strong business case for
sustainability in the
face of the enormous challenges of achieving it.
One of the largest participants was Sime Darby
Property, which builds townships across
Malaysia. In the past few years, it’s taken bold steps towards sustainability as
the company realized it has both the ability and obligation to the people living
and working in its properties — who, increasingly, want to live a sustainable
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“As a large organization, we want to be careful that we’re not doing
sustainability only because it’s popular; we’ve got to ensure that we have the
science and process behind it,” said Dato’ Azmir Merican, Sime Darby
Property’s Group Managing Director.
One way it’s doing that is by integrating biodiversity into its projects —
including turning parks into forests that can support more native plant and
animal habitats. It also has a long-term plan to make future townships so
self-sufficient, they can operate off-grid.
“The difficulty is that you need to get the whole value chain, and industry,
involved,” Azmir added.
Biodiversity is also a key focus for Batu Batu
Resort — located on Tengah Island near
Johor, in southern peninsular Malaysia, alongside a Marine Protected Area.
Co-owner Cher Chua-Lassalvy shared how the resort has progressed from trying
to just be more sustainable to being regenerative and supporting local
“It didn’t need to stop at net zero; we could be regenerative, and help people
and nature grow,” Chua-Lassalvy said. Batu Batu is helping turtles return to the
beaches around the resort, creating incentives to protect coral reefs, and now
50 percent of the resort’s sourcing comes from local suppliers.
“Nothing has been easy,” she added. “[But] it’s been an eye-opener [to realize]
we can also do stuff that makes the place better off than if we weren’t here.”
Similarly, Sasibai Kimis, founder of artisan marketplace Earth Heir Partners, is using the power of sourcing to build
sustainable local economies in Malaysia. Her company is B Corp and Fair Trade
Certified, and works with disadvantaged communities and helps them access new
markets for sustainable, locally produced goods.
For example, an Earth Heir partnership with the United Nations is enabling
refugees living in Malaysia to make a living selling traditional crafts. They’re
also training local artisans to reduce and upcycle waste and use recycled
plastic, creating incentives through financial and logistical support and access
to consumers. There’s a lot of potential around local supply chains, and Kimis
called on more Malaysian brands to reconsider where and how they source.
“I find a lot of companies have big budgets for corporate social responsibility,
but little for changing their procurement and looking into their supply chains;
so they’re not interested in local industries, businesses and economy,” Kimis
She sees consumers, who increasingly wants to know more about the goods they
buy, as a powerful driver of change
“If consumers start thinking about the watch, phone, or car we’re buying every
day and where it is coming from, and ask questions; then the brands have to
answer those questions and be put to task,” she said.
That shows how sustainability is a social issue, connecting us all. Which
demonstrates a key challenge — it's impossible for one company, no matter how
big, to address the immense problems facing the planet on its own. It will take
collective efforts, with brands coming together and creating collaborative
If there’s one thing that needs to be improved, it is the willingness of
Malaysian brands to be more open to collaborating with peers and competitors,
argued Firdaus Jonid, Managing Director of Invictus
Blue, focused on sustainability marketing.
“What’s missing within Malaysian brands: There’s not enough sharing or
community,” he asserted. “You’re not going to save the earth yourself. Brands
that are advanced should share their knowledge with those who are just starting
Published Jun 24, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Nithin is a freelance writer who focuses on global economic, and environmental issues with an aim at building channels of communication and collaboration around common challenges.