Re­al­is­ing a flour­ish­ing so­ci­ety

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Csr -

COM­PA­NIES both big and small have be­gun to re­alise that par­tak­ing in green or eco-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties is an im­por­tant as­pect of grow­ing a busi­ness and a key fac­tor that would help in es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter ties with stake­hold­ers and, in par­tic­u­lar, the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

In the last two decades, the term sus­tain­abil­ity has evolved from merely main­tain­ing a cer­tain rate or level of busi­ness to in­clude the avoid­ance of the de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources in main­tain­ing eco­log­i­cal bal­ance.

More of­ten than not, how­ever, the term is ca­su­ally used as or­gan­i­sa­tions seek to por­tray them­selves as be­ing so­cially re­spon­si­ble and ac­tive con­trib­u­tors to pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

This then leads to the ques­tion of what is sus­tain­able. What sort of bench­marks must com­pa­nies set should they as­pire to be deemed sus­tain­able?

“A lot of peo­ple or de­vel­op­ers view them­selves as be­ing sus­tain­able by say­ing they plant a lot of trees, but if we were to look at the con­text pro­moted by the United Na­tions, there are 17 goals or as­pects that need to be con­sid­ered holis­ti­cally,” says Cheng Jew Keng, head of the Sun­way Smart Sus­tain­able City task­force.

As one of Malaysia’s largest con­glom­er­ates with 12 busi­ness di­vi­sions in­clud­ing prop­erty, con­struc­tion, re­tail, hos­pi­tal­ity, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and leisure, the Sun­way Group (Sun­way) has al­ways strived to grow the na­tion’s econ­omy while also keep­ing an eye on pre­serv­ing the planet.

Tes­ta­ment to Sun­way’s com­mit­ment to the cause is its big­gest suc­cess story, Sun­way City, which is recog­nised as the coun­try’s first fully in­te­grated green township that has been Green Build­ing Index-cer­ti­fied in 2012 and won the Low Car­bon City Award by the Malaysian In­sti­tute of Plan­ners last year.

In­grained in all em­ploy­ees

Such pres­ti­gious recog­ni­tions would not have been pos­si­ble without the lead­er­ship of Sun­way’s founder and chair­man Tan Sri Dr Jef­frey Cheah, who in­cul­cated a strong com­pany cul­ture and com­mit­ment to eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial prac­tices.

Dr Cheah’s vi­sion, end­less com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion in fur­ther­ing sus­tain­abil­ity over the last four decades has earned him the in­au­gu­ral Sus­tain­abil­ity Icon Award by RAM Con­sul­tancy.

Speak­ing in re­gard to Dr Cheah’s in­flu­ence on em­ploy­ees, Cheng ex­plains, “Sus­tain­abil­ity is not only a global is­sue but part of our DNA at Sun­way be­cause, first and fore­most, we view our­selves as a com­mu­nity de­vel­oper.

“If we can look at sus­tain­abil­ity holis­ti­cally, there will be sav­ings and value cre­ation along the way that can be shared not only within the or­gan­i­sa­tion but with the com­mu­nity, na­tion and re­gion.

“Our in­ten­tion is to con­vince other pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions that, at the end of the day, sus­tain­abil­ity is not nec­es­sar­ily a loss-mak­ing but value propo­si­tion. We wanted to tell peo­ple that this is the right way to build a township.”

Due to Sun­way’s ob­jec­tive of en­cour­ag­ing more pri­vate en­ti­ties to take sus­tain­abil­ity se­ri­ously and as part of their busi­ness mod­els, Cheng shares that Sun­way is al­ways will­ing to work and share the knowl­edge it has learnt over the years while also be­ing open to col­lab­o­rate with the Govern­ment to em­bark on larger-scale ac­tion plans.

The big leap

Sun­way’s big­gest step to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity was align­ing it­self with the United Na­tions Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) and, last year, the Jef­frey Cheah Foun­da­tion do­nated US$10mil (RM42.7mil) to es­tab­lish the Jef­frey Sachs Cen­ter on Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment (JSC) at Sun­way Univer­sity.

The SDGs are 17 global goals aimed at erad­i­cat­ing all forms of poverty, fight­ing in­equal­i­ties and tack­ling cli­mate change, among oth­ers.

These SDGs recog­nise that end­ing poverty goes hand-in-hand with strate­gies that spur eco­nomic growth and ad­dress so­cial needs such as ed­u­ca­tion, health, so­cial pro­tec­tion and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, while at the same time be­ing mind­ful of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

Prof Jef­frey Sachs is a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional author­ity in sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, hold­ing the po­si­tions of di­rec­tor of the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment So­lu­tions Net­work and chair­man of the JSC.

The cen­tre at Sun­way Univer­sity is to be a hub of re­search and pol­icy prac­tice, cre­at­ing world­class pro­grammes to train stu­dents, prac­ti­tion­ers and pol­icy lead­ers on sus­tain­able ini­tia­tives while also de­vel­op­ing links with uni­ver­si­ties, in­dus­tries, agen­cies and govern­ment bod­ies.

“We would con­fi­dently say we have ac­tively cov­ered 15 of the 17 SDGs and we are not stop­ping there. We would also like to think of our­selves as the first pri­vate ini­tia­tive in Malaysia to have spent such a vast amount of ef­fort and re­sources into pro­mot­ing the sub­ject of sus­tain­abil­ity,” says Cheng.

Through its ef­forts in trans­form­ing Sun­way City from what was es­sen­tially a min­ing waste­land into a flour­ish­ing township, Sun­way has, among oth­ers, built ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, a theme park, ho­tels, a shop­ping mall, med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and homes.

Sun­way has also planted 25,000 trees, which will rise to 30,000 in

In the last two decades, the term sus­tain­abil­ity has evolved from merely main­tain­ing a cer­tain rate or level of busi­ness to in­clude the avoid­ance of the de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources in main­tain­ing eco­log­i­cal bal­ance.

2020, and cre­ated 48% of open space in the township with 24% be­ing green lungs that con­tain more than 170,000 species of adap­tive and na­tive plants.

This in­fra­struc­ture and the jobs cre­ated as a re­sult of these de­vel­op­ments have al­ways been part of Sun­way’s long-term de­vel­op­ment plan and it is there­fore only nat­u­ral for the com­pany to con­tinue in­cor­po­rat­ing more sus­tain­able ini­tia­tives into the 21st cen­tury.

“Sun­way City is a great re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ef­fort and there were a lot of sus­tain­able tar­gets set without ex­ter­nal com­pul­sion or pres­sures but by the pure in­ten­tion of the com­pany,” says Cheng.

In terms of safety, Sun­way City has its own 500-strong aux­il­iary po­lice, close to 3,000 24-hour CCTV sur­veil­lance units through­out the township, anti-snatch theft fenc­ing and im­ple­mented the Sun­way Safe City Ini­tia­tive.

Sun­way also em­barked on an ex­ten­sive con­nec­tiv­ity and tran­sit master plan for the con­ve­nience of the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

This in­cludes easy road ac­cess to Kuala Lumpur, six ma­jor high­ways, three high­way links to Sun­way South Quay, free shut­tle bus ser­vice around Sun­way City and el­e­vated cov­ered canopy walk­ways span­ning 4km that en­cour­age peo­ple to walk in­stead of re­ly­ing on mo­torised ve­hi­cles.

An­other note­wor­thy en­deav­our was the open­ing of the BRTSun­way Line, an el­e­vated bus ser­vice con­nect­ing Se­tia Jaya and USJ 7 us­ing dis­abled-friendly elec­tric buses.

Do­ing things right

Cheng be­lieves Sun­way City is the first smart sus­tain­able city in Malaysia due to the com­pany’s re­lent­less pur­suit of im­prov­ing se­cu­rity and con­nec­tiv­ity, en­cour­ag­ing a healthy life­style and meet­ing so­cial needs of the com­mu­nity.

He says, “Ur­ban­i­sa­tion is some­thing that is un­avoid­able as peo­ple come to cities to look for jobs. This will even­tu­ally lead to var­i­ous ur­ban­i­sa­tion prob­lems, in­clud­ing the need for bet­ter hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and health­care fa­cil­i­ties as well as ed­u­ca­tion.

“Recog­nis­ing that we are mov­ing to­wards a dig­i­tal world and the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, there is a need to use ICT as an en­abler to solve the prob­lems of an ur­ban liv­ing space and achieve the 17 SDGs.”

Cheng re­it­er­ates that it is im­por­tant for Sun­way to prove that sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment al­ter­na­tives are in­deed avail­able as well as show­case to other de­vel­op­ers and town­ships that there is the pos­si­bil­ity of job cre­ation and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment without sac­ri­fic­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

Build­ing on its smart township vi­sion, not only is Sun­way City fit­ted with a broad­band fi­bre op­tic back­bone and, in the fu­ture, pro­vid­ing 100% Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity through­out Sun­way City, it was also de­clared MSC Malaysia Cy­bercity and Cy­ber­centre sta­tus – an area that pro­vides a busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and ecosys­tem that can at­tract ICT in­vestors and pro­mote the growth of ICT com­pa­nies.

With in­no­va­tion be­ing among the three main SDGs fo­cused by Sun­way along­side ed­u­ca­tion and a sus­tain­able com­mu­nity, Sun­way has also opened the Sun­way In­no­va­tion Labs or iLabs where var­i­ous arms of the com­pany can work closely to­gether in a col­lab­o­ra­tive space to fos­ter en­trepreneur­ship, stim­u­late mar­ket-driven in­no­va­tions and scale busi­nesses faster.

“The idea is to pull academia from our uni­ver­si­ties and pro­vide them with the plat­form to com­mu­ni­cate and in­te­grate with the com­mer­cial man­agers of Sun­way, who con­stantly face com­mer­cial prob­lems and no so­lu­tions.

“We be­lieve there is a lot of knowl­edge within the academia and iLabs is seen to en­able in­no­va­tion, en­cour­age start-ups, pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship and be a plat­form to train young pro­fes­sion­als,” says Cheng.

Sun­way iLabs has also es­tab­lished links with govern­ment bod­ies such as Malaysia Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Cor­po­ra­tion (MDeC), Agensi Ino­vasi Malaysia, PlaTCOM Ven­tures, Malaysian Global In­no­va­tion and Cre­ativ­ity Cen­tre, Cra­dle Fund Sdn Bhd and Malaysian Busi­ness An­gel Net­work.

In ad­di­tion, Sun­way has part­nered with in­ter­na­tional ride-hail­ing

com­pany, Grab, and Sil­i­con Val­ley­based en­trepreneur camp de­sign­ers, Young Out­liers.

On­go­ing ded­i­ca­tion

Sun­way knows it can­not take its past ac­com­plish­ments for granted and is thus con­tin­u­ing its fo­cus on the en­vi­ron­ment as well as wa­ter and en­ergy sources for the com­ing years.

“In the near fu­ture, we are go­ing to in­stall so­lar pan­els to pro­mote re­new­able en­ergy and also ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with academia for bat­tery tech­nol­ogy. As you know, we can har­ness so­lar en­ergy but we can­not store so­lar en­ergy in a mean­ing­ful and eco­nom­i­cal way, es­pe­cially when peo­ple also need to use en­ergy at night.

“We are also look­ing into com­bined power generation as we plan to have nat­u­ral gas supplied to the township. We hope to be able to gen­er­ate our own power sup­ply and re­use waste heat for chilled wa­ter in ab­sorp­tion chillers,” says Cheng.

Other green power ini­tia­tives planned by Sun­way is draw­ing up a green power blue­print for Sun­way City, which will hope­fully be repli­cated in other parts of this re­gion.

Cheng is op­ti­mistic that with the

nec­es­sary pro­duc­tion li­cence from the proper au­thor­i­ties, Sun­way will be able to make use of its wa­ter fil­tra­tion plant at Sun­way South Quay lake to pro­duce its own potable wa­ter sup­ply for its com­mer­cial prop­er­ties.

Re­view­ing all the ef­forts un­der­taken by Sun­way over the years and the new ini­tia­tives planned, the com­pany has truly grasped the con­cept of sus­tain­abil­ity and ad­dressed the cru­cial 17 global SDGs that af­fect mankind, cover­ing all so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

“The rea­son we at Sun­way are able to con­duct such a large-scale ap­proach to

sus­tain­abil­ity is be­cause we have a unique busi­ness model due to the own­er­ship of in­fra­struc­ture, which al­lows us to main­tain con­trol of a wide range of fac­tors.

“The ad­van­tage of Sun­way is that we have the power to plough back the re­turns into the township, from keep­ing the township clean and plant­ing so many trees to in­stalling CCTVs, hav­ing our own aux­il­iary po­lice force and build­ing the needed in­fra­struc­ture,” con­cludes Cheng.

n For more in­for­ma­tion on Sun­way Group’s ef­forts in sus­tain­abil­ity, visit www.sun­way.­cial-re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Malaysian In­sti­tute of Plan­ners. Sun­way City is mak­ing strides in be­com­ing a smart city through a back­bone of fi­bre op­tics, en­abling 100% Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity for the en­tire city.

Tan Sri Dr Jef­frey Cheah, (sec­ond from left) is the re­cip­i­ent of the in­au­gu­ral Sus­tain­abil­ity Icon Award, which recog­nises his com­mit­ment to fur­ther­ing sus­tain­abil­ity over the last four decades across Malaysia.

The Jef­frey Cheah Foun­da­tion do­nated US$10mil (RM42.7mil) to es­tab­lish the Jef­frey Sachs Cen­ter on Sus­tain­able evelopment (JSC) at Sun­way Univer­sity.

The wa­ter treat­ment plant in Sun­way South Quay will use the wa­ter in the ex­ist­ing South Quay lake to pro­duce ap­prox­i­mately 10,000m3 of wa­ter a day to serve a host of com­mer­cial build­ings in Sun­way City.

The BRT-Sun­way Line is an el­e­vated bus ser­vice de­signed as an ef­fort to en­sure ex­ten­sive con­nec­tiv­ity in a sus­tain­able man­ner, con­nect­ing Se­tia Jaya and USJ 7 us­ing elec­tric buses.

Cheng Jew Keng.

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