The private sector is acknowledged as the engine of our economic growth. But how long can this 'engine' keep running without addressing its many impacts on society and the natural environment?
With public concerns rising everywhere for a cleaner and safer environment, how best can businesses respond to environmental challenges -- and find new opportunities to grow and innovate?
These and related questions will be raised in this week's Sri Lanka 2048, the series of TV debates exploring Sri Lanka's prospects for a sustainable future in the Twenty First Century. The one-hour debate, this time in English, will be shown on Channel One MTV from 8 to 9 pm on Saturday, 19 July 2008.
Titled Business As Unusual, this week's debate brings together concerned Sri Lankans from academic, corporate, civil society and government backgrounds to discuss what choices, decisions and tradeoffs need to be made for businesses to become environmentally responsible -- and still remain profitable. Increasingly, there are examples of smart companies achieving this balance.
This week's panel comprises: Professor Sarath W Kotagama, Professor of Environment Science, University of Colombo; Renton de Alwis, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Dilhan C Fernando, Marketing Director, MJF Group; and Jeevani Siriwardena, Director - Product Management, Sri Lanka Export Development Board. The debate is moderated by TVE Asia Pacific's Director Nalaka Gunawardene.
The wide ranging discussion -- looking at both domestic and international markets, and covering a range of industries -- notes that many companies already address not just financial but also social and environmental bottomlines. Adopting cleaner production practices have helped increase profits through being thrifty with resources and careful with waste.
The debate also looks at the findings of a survey that IUCN and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce carried out last year of 45 companies on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and practices. It revealed that a significant number of companies are actively applying CSR principles, with slightly over half (53%) already having environmental components in their CSR (known as CSER). The survey also found that local companies were stronger on CSR/CSER than the local operations of multinational companies.
As some panellists and audience members argue, embracing sound environmental practices goes well beyond CSR. With rising consumer awareness and greater scrutiny of how companies source materials and energy, 'going green' has become an integral part of responsible corporate citizens.
Sri Lanka 2048 debates are co-produced by TVE Asia Pacific, an educational media foundation, and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in partnership with MTV Channel (Private) Limited. This editorially independent TV series is supported under the Raising Environmental Consciousness in Society (RECS) project, sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands.
For more information on Sri Lanka 2048 series click here