Looking Beyond Realm of Finance

Chandran Nair, Hong Kong-based Indian entrepreneur, noted that Asia cannot hope to consume as much as the west or run the world dry. In his book Consumptionomics, Nair makes the argument that it will be up to the government to regulate consumption and play an important – even if it is unpopular – role in sustainability.

He is not alone in believing that drastic action is needed to prevent dire environmental fallouts. Many point to corporations as future drivers of sustainability, saying it will behoove business leaders to start taking a long-term view or face disaster. And the first step maybe to start discussing the impact of business on the environment.

Alex Malley, head of CPA Australia, believes sustainability is a must. Through sustainability reporting, companies outline the impact their operations have on their environment and resources, and how they can minimize negative impact on the environment. Sooner or later, mankind is going to realize that it doesn’t have enough resources to survive. We are moving, at the pace with which we are using resources in the world, to a place in which governments may have to license businesses on the basis on whether they meet sustainability requirements.

For the time being, such a regulation is unlikely. A way to start may be for corporations to discuss their activities with their investors and start thinking long term. The world has got to move to an annual report that is equally financial and non-financial. That is the biggest political discussion in the profession nowadays.

Financial reports are important, but corporations should also discuss how a business makes an impact on society and the environment. Sustainability reporting and integrated reporting is about telling people what you are doing to ensure your business survives.

Focusing on sustainability does not have to impact profits. On the contrary, he believes company can be both sustainable and profitable in two or three years. Within a decade, a sustainable company’s stock price may have skyrocketed while other companies may no longer exist. It is about explaining what the business will do in 10 years. It is going to start forcing companies to start planning for the long term.     And it is not just company executives that have some responsibility. I believes investors should also play an important role, and that investment choice should be guided by the sustainability of business. almanteq

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