Thinking Green: 4 Green Economy Initiatives for Business Development in Southeast Asia

office building in southeast asia

As the Doomsday Clock ticks down to a hundred seconds before midnight, chief amongst the concerns for mankind’s future on Earth lies with hastening climate change. This aforementioned clock isn’t physical but rather a symbolic one. Founded in 1945 by a committee of scientists – and most notably Einstein himself – this clock dictates how close the human race is to irreversible consequences.

The good news is that the countdown is not set in stone. Unlike the flow of time, I believe we can still undo the damage done by our species. This begins on an individual level, from the ground up – taking actions to develop a sustainable and eco-friendly system of economy. The solution is the Green Economy.

Evident as more and more businesses around the globe shift towards sustainability, this pattern isn’t as strong in Southeast Asia. If anything, tangible actions have yet to be taken, and the time is nigh for businesses to start pivoting. Inaction is no longer an option as environmentally conscious investors begin to prioritise eco-sustainability, placing it at the top of their agenda. To remain competitive and build longevity, Southeast Asian companies have to act swiftly.

How Can Businesses in Southeast Asia Pursue Green Transformation?

1. Shifting to Renewables

There exist a plethora of ways to work towards a Green Economy, but the most immediate and apparent idea would be a heavy shift towards renewables. Although convenient, single-use items have taken a toll on the environment. Images of plastic bags and straws harming ocean life have propagated in the zeitgeist of society ever since Al Gore released his documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth”, to the point where even the notion of ‘single-use’ seems sacrilegious and taboo.

Gaining massive traction worldwide, the idea of renewables has extended not only to plastics and utility, but also towards energy. Fossil fuels might make up a large percentage of the world’s energy supply, but experts are pushing for it to go the way of the dinosaurs. Companies can play their part by investing in the research and development of renewable energy – wind, solar, and biofuels. On a more aggressive front, companies should also reimagine the idea of energy and build networks to secure that energy for future generations.

2. Reducing, Restoring & Regenerating Resources

Along with the themes of renewability, there are three other R’s that will advocate towards a Green Economy. Businesses need to revisit how their resources can be reduced, restored, and regenerated to minimise waste. Earlier notions of reusing resources are complemented by further restoring the current pool of resources. Anyone that has seen a post-apocalyptic film knows that the root of all conflict lies in resource scarcity. History demonstrated time and time again that mankind is at its worst when fighting each other for a slice of the pie, instead of working to make it larger.

But how can one expand this pie? On more idealistic terms, demonstrating industry leadership by setting an example for peers makes environmentally-friendly actions hard to deny. On the practical side, contributing to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and increasing the efficiency of businesses operations both aid in reducing resource use and shrinking carbon footprints.

3. Pollution Prevention & Control

Companies already doing their part to ensure Green Practices can push for even more by reassessing their day-to-day operations. As tedious as it might sound, an external and objective assessment of conduct is necessary from time to time. It is entirely human to be content and rest on our laurels, but when the potential future of the environment is at stake, more must be done.

This concept extends even more to companies that are storied and carry a long history of tradition in their respective fields. As Churchill once said, “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often” – new measures can always be taken to include cleaner business practices. Companies in manufacturing that endeavour to establish a Greener Economy may set stricter criteria for proper disposal of waste. Furthermore, additional oversight never hurts. No one looks back at the Exxon Valdez incident and wonders if less could be done to prevent it.

4. Incorporate Sustainability Criteria into Investment Decisions

Money talks, and when it comes to pushing for sustainability, green investments are the way to go. By supporting initiatives that take environmental factors into account, businesses pioneer a better way of setting a tone for the market. These actions also announce that the stakeholders in the company don’t only look at the bottom line – everyone’s in it for the long haul.

Making informed choices and seeking out partners whose values align with yours, that’s a solid way to begin working on solutions towards a Green Economy. To reiterate an earlier point, this is about expanding the pie as opposed to snatching pieces away greedily.

Kickstart Your Journey Towards a More Sustainable Future

It is imperative to take action now, and business leaders must recognise the importance of the Green Economy. Short time profit margins are just that – short term. I am of the firm opinion that anyone and everyone can do their part in this journey towards a more sustainable future.