This second panel discussion of CEO Unplugged 2019 organized by Glocal Pvt. Ltd. was Business Coalition for SDGs. There is a huge role of private sector in making the SDGs happen but so far, this has not been spelled out and it is important that we place a high priority in involving businesses in development efforts. This panel discussion make the audience understand that the private sector is as an engine of growth which indeed is an intent that the private sector can contribute to the SDGs.
CEO Unplugged 2019 is a yearly forum organized by Glocal Pvt. Ltd. comprising series of panel discussion to establish a forum to discuss about contemporary business challenges, opportunities and futuristic view with a sight of experiential learning to the new comers in the business and students with an objective “Today Meets Tomorrow “.
The second panel discussion comprised of panelist; Ambuj Singh, the Country Manager of CocaCola Nepal; Anukool Bhatnagar, the CEO and MD. of Nepal SBI Bank; Renaud Meyer, Country Director of UNDP; Sudhakar Jayaram, CEO at Nepal Mediciti Hospital and moderator; Asish Thakur, ED. of Glocal Pvt. Ltd.
Asish Thakur started the discussion by raising a question on how SDGs can influence and can be influenced by businesses. The panel covered the discussion on the following SGD goals: Health and Wellbeing (Goal 3), Clean water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Affordable and Clean energy (Goal 7), Decent work and Common Growth (Goal 8), Sustainable cities and Communities (Goal 11), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), Life on land (Goal 15) and Partnerships for goals (Goal 17). The discussion also included the expectation of UN agencies or creator of SDGs from the businesses for getting the goals accomplished by 2030.
Renaud Meyer, Country Director of UNDP
Thank you Ashish. Even though it is a tough question to start with. Thank You for giving me a chance to talk and interact about businesses with young people. I will start with a simple statement. The SDGs won’t be achieved without the business sectors. That’s very clear as we compare MDGs and SDGs, MDGs; 8 goals created during 2000-2015 that were all social oriented issues. It was education, health, gender equality. But all these topic had been left out on the more challenging issues like good governance, climate change, corruption, and problems like who’s responsible for pollution, human rights. They were problematic issues. All these topics were left out on purpose so that we can reach a consensus among the country, so we could still work on the common agendas.
SDGs are the more ambitious agendas, also we are a business people today so, they are costly agendas. Lots of research have been done to study the price tag of achieving the goals. What is less discussed is the things that has already been done. I am not going to challenge the introduction heard from the colleagues of facts cause I don’t like to challenge even though I do. Two things, first I don’t like when I see UN SDGs. It leads to misinterpretations because I get people talking to me about,” Oh, Renaud you and your goals or what are you doing for the goals?” Actually I don’t have to do anything for the goals. I am only going to monitor as a UN person, what countries are doing because their commitment towards the goals is not the UN as an organization but members of the organization who are the member states. I am not saying the government, I am saying members states. In a country like Nepal, government sign the papers but for whom? Its for the benefit of people and the society. Businesses have the fundamental roles to play in a society. But we always get a question what do you expect from them. Businesses are already doing enough. Who creates jobs for the society? It’s not the government and I am sure if we add your employees, your employees and your employees, we already have a large size of people who everyday go under goal no 8 ‘decent employment’. On decent employment, you pay decent wages which allows them to send their kids to school, allow good education and good health. If all of you respect your role in a society then you are already contributing to the rule of SDGs.
For example, if you are a child, you go to school, achieve good grades and go to the next level. Then you are already following the strategies of SDGs. If you are a CEO at a hospital, then you provide a treatment with an affordable prices. Then you are contributing to the SDGs. By providing access to finances, you are contributing to SDGs. But that’s not enough. What you already do is not enough. It won’t be possible to make it through 2030. My message is that you have already contribute, so don’t be shy and engage. Second message is that Businesses as usual is not going to make it all it’s you who needs to pump it up and do more. You see why I enjoy coming to the residence because 3 years before you would not hear this kind of discourse. And it’s a really credit to the business community to have adopted the SDGS as a reference for their work and they do it for basically two reasons. And they just said it in different word but I am going to say it more specifically. They do it because it is their interest. This my job to convince them that I am not doing for their pity ,or feeling sorry for the people in mountains. I am telling them SDGs is a business opportunity for you. I don’t know how long it takes to go on bus to Jhapa. Who enjoys that? Everyone wants to fly. It will increases the level of income. You have a business that is domestic airlines. They are doing it because if there community and their clients are well enough and educated with minimum income, they will not thrive because they have lesson. You cannot ask as good as you are if you don’t have a ladder to hold on or it will be difficult to borrow from a bank. So you need something to start with and same thing imagine you need to put all the kids to the schools that is one of the targets of SDGs. Goal number 4. Well you need to have discourse. You need to have buildings, buildings need to have tiles on roof and water connected. All these represents to the person who produces windows markets. Achieving the SDGs alone is the business. And the killing point if you don’t achieve the SDGs, you are done. This is a very serious issue, the sustainability of our ecosystem is in threat. That’s why I am saying business, as usual is not the way to go. And we have to understand that every respectively.
How many health care system you put out there? How cortical they are? If it is another earthquake and it is not resilient a flood out there in terai, which is coming as in its just the date we don’t know. Again all this for nothing. As we really have to see it as a package not 17, 1+1+1 but 17 yet to address all at once. Because they are all connected and they are not an option.
Ambuj Singh, the Country Manager of Coca-Cola Nepal
Thank all of you for having me here. As talking on the behalf of Business sector, we see different phases in the industry. For a long period of time, we have been engaged in some or the other activities either (CSR, charity, other various form of nickname). Few years back, cutting a check, funding something or there were programs, but as we go along as the consumer go. These activities have become as active parts of business strategies itself. CSR is not a separate program or SDGs is not a program or project that we would want to do but SDGs integrate into the over all business sector or business operation because there needs to be someone responsible, accountable, some goals in mind ultimately that two reasons why we needto do. And I will come to the huge reason later. I think the businesses should have sustainable goals.
Anukool Bhatnagar, the CEO and MD. of Nepal SBI Bank
Good afternoon, I see lots of young faces which is really encouraging. Think yes, we need to go further and do a business strategy with these 17 SDGs goals. We have lots of strategies but I have never seen one in this form. This is a ultimate goal and yes, we are here to do something as a non profit shareholder but as a social work we are providing services to the public by putting the SDGs goals in mind. We should provide services to the large group. We implement the best of people, best of money and the best of development. It has to be Zero tolerance. To become a successful and responsible business holder one should cooperate with the social responsibilities. More the society loves us, more the business increases. If you believe in something do it, do it yourself. We do advertisement and all and in a month I save about 1-2 crore. The thing is, are we investing those money for the benefit of people who benefited us?
Sudhakar Jayaram, CEO at Nepal Mediciti Hospital
When I first saw these SDGs, I was like what’s wrong with these guys. First there were 8 MDGs and now there are 17 SDGs and then there 18 goals and now there are 100s. I can’t even remember 10 of them forget about following them. These 17 SDGs were challenges. Then I started to look at them more carefully. I must admit these SDGs fits into us and the reason it fits in us is that before 8 MDGs were all about cutting a check but In a country like Nepal we don’t need charity what we need is capacity. When we think about all these things it is always about somebody is going to give us a hand up. What these SDGs brings is collaboration, exchange of ideas, cooperation and interdependent. Especially hospitals. For example if you just look at SDG number 3 which is kind of hospital thing. I just want to talk about 2-4 things. And reminds me of something specific. No.1 if you look at the under 5 mortality rate, it is accordingly shocking. We lose 40% of children in rural areas if Nepal. More number of child face their death at the age of 5. the problem i see in Nepal especially rural Nepal is like 15 years behind then modern Nepal. 65% of Nepali people don’t have access to health care in 30 minutes and 90% of people have access mobile phone.
So, what we started to do was a we started building this apps, where mothers can actually monitor the minds of their child where they can know the circumference of their heads when they grow. So this is a specific way which we think we can do in a practical way. That actually help a mother in Lukla, Kailali, Dhang or Jhapa or parts of Nepal because they have access to a cell phone they are access to technology and not to health care. What I have seen in this country since I arrived is if everyone has a health problem first flight to India, a little bit more money to Thailand a little bit more money to Singapore. And there tends to be three reason in Nepal why they take the first flight out are: Number one, there are lots of doctor here who actually makes more money making a commission sending the patient out rather than practicing medicine. Number 2 reason, morbidity and mortality statistics. In our ICUs is the picture it’s 40-60%. So you won’t be scared to go to ICU in this country because you don’t have early morning science and you don’t have systems that make it safe. And finally people don’t trust diagnostics.
Although it is part of SDGs because it talks about early morning sciences and mitigating risks. We are putting together programs now. Abdhullah is right, Airlines are the safest. We are the most unsafe people. You come to a hospital I guarantee you it’s the most unsafe place. If you look at the morbidity and mortality rate, then going to a hospital is like bungee jumping. If you look at the morbidity and mortality statistics and people who did bungee jumping then we beat bungee jumping. We want to learn how we can reduce this problem. Because a pilot dies with the passenger but doctors they make money even if the patients dies in front of them.so, how do we make the doctor accountable? But the problem is I have the investors, promoters but they don’t give a damn about SDGs. They want to see the % of money the get from IRR. This planet earth needs to be left for our children. The problem is there are stakeholder’s planet earth, share holders, investors that it truly needs to cooperate government indicators. It needs guts to say because CSR are like HR person who does a part time job. Maybe in some large company they are like a scientist. But being a healthcare I can say SDGs fit so beautifully, nutrition, water…. When organization creates a partnership everything is transparent. It makes people work together.
What is the plan for plastic free coca cola? (By Dibya Jyoti Pokhrel)
What do you do with medical waste?
Ambuj Singh- This is our global commitment. There is something we call a world without waste. By 2030 a coca cola company is globally generating less waste. Coming back to Nepal specifically what we are doing and what we will do. It was long time ago in 2040, there was a NGO called Himalayan Climate Region, they started a campaign in plastic bag. That was partnerships between HCI, Gokukarna and DIG. That is the journey, that is the commitment. We haven’t reach there yet. I am glad that you asked this question. They have even band the plastic bags. We also have plan bottle, which is not practiced in Nepal yet.it is a bottle that is like 40% of the bottle are created by biodegradable product. I am sure innovation, reusability and public knowledge is going to insure our goal of being 100% natural. I can’t stay here and win a argument with you which I might. We are working with solutions. As you will be able to see the plastics becoming lighter due to some technologies. Or re use or move to the different platform.
Firstly, don’t create waste, right. One thing that we started to do is we just implemented AMR. We will go paperless. Maybe in next two three months. We will put a tax for Japanese partner so we will stop getting films so people will just have to download a link. So we will make difficult and expensive to create a waste. We are also working in a plan of making a light weight software which can be used from all around the world, so that this can be done from anywhere which is really expensive an all. Some policy changing needs to be happen in this country, some of this are very cheap as they are not meeting the concern. But there are some programs which aware people.
Audience: How do we get out of negativism?
Renaud Meyer- Just want to throw it back. It’s all up to you. I have been there throwing question back. It’s easy. Don’t take it personally. There is a goal SDG 12 which is one of my favorite. It talks about sustainable production. Which is worth those gentlemen are giving example of. But it also continues and says responsible consumption and that’s where you guys fit in. When you say don’t waste you mean it. We all have are responsible for it. And it’s very easy to say it’s the responsibility of a Coca-Cola not to make plastic waste, it’s the responsibility of Turkish Airlines not to pollute, but how do they make a business if they don’t fly a plane. I mean we cannot do cycling and think that by cycling we can take off. We all have in our daily habits the responsibility as a consumer to really think through. I have learned for example, how to rescue straws from restaurant and cafe. When I go to saleways I say I don’t need your plastic bags, I wish they make me pay for them. So, I think we should all share a common responsibility and
also not always waiting for something to happen medical way as UNDP. We are getting into very often I ask the director of health; they say they are waiting for the ministry to take over. Why are you waiting? If you are waiting for the ministry, then wait forever. I think there need to be the force to make the strong policy but not having the policy is not an excuse to not do nothing. We have to really conscious as a individual that we are consumers. What does these companies think that should be done in partnership? How can we create that partnership among us so that can be achieved very easily?
The panel discussion ended with the conclusion that it’s not that the private firm need to be concerned about SGGs just for the sake of their CSR, in fact they should be accountable because without SDGs, the corporate worlds seem inward-looking.