2020 integral conversation "Transform and Thrive": Exploring the roadmap for a greener economy

© 2020 ESQUEL Group
On November 13, visionary leaders in business and academia exchanged a variety of insights and learnings at this year’s virtual 2020 Integral Conversation. Under the theme “Transform and Thrive”, the conference sought to explore how governments, corporations and individuals can lay the foundation for a greener economy that is anchored in solutions geared towards public wellbeing.

Teresa Yang, Vice Chairman of Esquel Group, kicked off the conference with her opening remarks. Yang highlighted that even though the pandemic has cast a shadow over global socioeconomic development, many businesses strived to stay resilient and seek opportunities to transform themselves in the crisis. Yang said, “No matter how technologies advance, humans will always be a part of nature. Only when we take wisely and use sensibly, can we create a sustainable future.”

Following Yang’s opening remarks, Peng Daiyuan, Executive Deputy Mayor of Guilin, China, gave his warm remarks in a video, recognizing Esquel’s commitment to sustainable development and continuous efforts to become an industry leader in environmental protection.

Inez Fung, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the Keynote Speech on climate change, in which she dissected the challenges brought by global temperature rise and encouraged us to engage in innovative and transformative solutions. To bend the curve of global warming, she said we must focus on improving energy efficiency, mitigating waste, sourcing alternative energy, and developing geoengineering.

The conference explored pressing topics in the realms of the role of corporation, environment, and health with a series of panel discussions joined by leading experts.

  • The panel “Redefining corporate purpose in the new normal”, moderated by Hau Lee, Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Chairman of Sustainability Council of Esquel Group, sparked a thought-provoking discussion on transforming corporates’ value creation model to solve social challenges through their business. Jan Craps, Co-Chair & Chief Executive Officer of Budweiser APAC and President of APAC AB InBev spoke about the company’s different approaches to ensuring employee safety and wellbeing during the pandemic. William Fung Kwok-lun, Deputy Chairman of the Fung Group stated that businesses should strive for a more diversified supply chain to cope with various uncertainties, even though it might not be the most costeffective. Mei Yan, Senior Partner and Chair of China, Brunswick Group, believed that the strength of a corporation should be its employees, and employers needed to take a more proactive role in supporting and taking care of their people in challenging times.? 
  • The panel “Driving the green economy through environmental action” delved into the immediate climate actions we need to help us achieve the SDGs and thrive in a post-pandemic green economy. Moderated by Norman Tien, Vice-President and ProVice-Chancellor (Institutional Advancement) and Taikoo Professor of Engineering and Chair Professor of Microsystems Technology, The University of Hong Kong, this panel shed light on what businesses and individuals could do across the value chain to help mitigate the effects of climate change. James Bishop, Professor of Marine Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided an in-depth analysis of developing oceanbased climate solution with effective and predictable results. John S. Wadsworth, Jr., Honorary Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia projected that carbon emission could be driven to zero by 2050 with the help of sustainable energy and energy-saving endeavors. Alasdair Morrison, Former Group Managing Director of Jardine Matheson Group, and former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia talked about his project of rebuilding a previously demolished rainforest in Emerald Valley, Australia and bringing extinct species back to the region.

  • Moderated by Yin Xudong, President of Novartis Group (China) and President APMA Region (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa), Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the panel “Reprioritizing good health and wellbeing” revolved around an informative exchange among leading health experts on the key learnings from this health crisis and effective measures to prevent the emergence of future pandemics. York Chow Yat-ngok, former Secretary for Food and Health of HKSAR and former Chairperson of Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong projected that unless World Health Organization (WHO) gave Hong Kong priority status, it might be mid-2021 before vaccines for COVID-19 become accessible to the general public in Hong Kong. Fock Kwong Ming, Emeritus Consultant of SingHealth and Clinical Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of National University of Singapore talked about the recent vaccine development and key COVID-19 learnings from Singapore's public health sector. Joseph Tucker, Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine believed that apart from government efforts, different stakeholders in society must work together to resolve the vaccine supply problem.

As a special segment of the conference, a virtual tour of Integral, Esquel’s Sustainable Development Garden, gave the speakers and guests an exciting glimpse into Esquel’s latest development in sustainability, modern manufacturing, quality employment, and innovation.

In the closing remarks, Dee Poon, Managing Director of Brands and Distribution of Esquel Group, commented the ethos of the conference “Transform and Thrive” has provided a viable roadmap for building a sustainable socio-economic model post-pandemic. Looking to the future, she called on both individuals and businesses to restore a harmonious relationship with the environment, redefine our purpose to society, and turn challenges into opportunities to thrive.

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