Interview: Sustainability, what does it mean to you?

 

It is not a buzzword nor a trend.

“Sustainability” is the strategy and navigator for the continuous of our business and the existence of the planet, environment and human beings.

This article aims to share the current thoughts of our managers, executives who represents various business and functional families on sustainable development along organized via short interviews. Thanks for our interviewees who should their interest in sustainability by responding to this interview :) - Eunno Lee (RIC Seoul Solvay One Planet Correspondent)

Special thanks to the interviewees: Mathieu Bertin, Larry Hough, Seung-Eun Lee, Taeho Han and Hosoo Yoon

 

 

Q1) How would you describe 'sustainability' in one sentence?

  • A sustainable activity should have no long-lasting negative impact, neither on environment, employee health, and society
  • Meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
  • Our responsibility for the future
  • For future, it is "MUST“
  • Everlasting and continuous growth in the future
 
 
Q2) How would you evaluate your personal level of understanding on 'sustainability'?
Level of understanding
 
 

 

 

 

Q3) Are there any 'sustainability' related activities observed in your job field (business, R&I, function etc)?

  • (Virtual R&I) In particular, there are two projects currently ongoing in my team:
1) Use of AI to study what impacts the biodegradability of a molecule, to be able to produce more environment-friendly polymers

2) Use of AI to analyze global HSE report data, to help local experts better understand the worldwide trends and plan effective actions

  • (Battery Platform) Lithium Ion Batteries will allow for electric vehicles, with the aim to lower overall carbon emissions. However, it is tricky. Where does the electricity come from? What are the mining practices for crucial materials? How will the batteries be recycled? Like many topics in sustainability, it is complex. A full analysis needs to be done of every aspect to understand the impact.
  • (R&I) Citizen Day, UNESCO project
  • (Technology Solutions GBU) When we search new opportunities, sustainability is one of the most important to factor to justify new projects. (e.g. even if new opportunity is attractive in finance, if it is not sustainable, I don't want to input this as a key projects.)
 
 
Q4) In case you would expect to apply the concept 'sustainability' into your daily tasks, what kind of methods/ideas you would think would be helpful?
  • A worldwide reporting of all sustainability KPIs, like we are doing with safety, could be an interesting way to engage everyone
  • I would ask a different question. How do you apply sustainability to your daily life. Either at home or at work, we can all recycle, produce less waste, and use less energy. If we are in a sustainable mindset, we can find many places to apply it. For example, the fashion industry is a very big polluter, so I buy a lot of my clothes from luxury consignment websites like The RealReal.
  • Try to enhance awareness, walk the talk
  • Use electric cars, (or hybrid), ... use less paper with printing..... more Google meeting instead of face-to-face meeting....
  • Monitoring and utilizing customers' development plan and business opportunity.
 
 
Solvay_Battery, Tire

 

 

 

 

Commentary 1: The climate, and our reaction for survival

Despite the fact that sustainable development, ESG, CSR activities are the keyword for survival, the current sustainability evaluation criteria has various gray zones to pinpoint. Below is an interesting article which gives us questions on reviewing the current norm. This article has been shared to some of our delegates of our local site. Thank you for our responders for sharing their views! (Click to see original article)

Young Seo

 

 

COVID-19 is reinventing the economy. Now it is the turn of climate change.

Seo Young-hoon (Country Manager

 

Wind and sun

 

 

I believe that every paradigm in the 21st century should start with climate action and finally build a new ecocapitalism.

A sustainable future will be ensured when the social components of all countries around the world strive to reduce emissions from a climate perspective.

I believe that the earth will be able to find peace when it is not in the form of ‘GDP competition’ between the sun and the wind in Aesop’s story, but ‘cooperation’ with solar and wind power plants.

Solvay is proud that it is actively combating climate change through the Ewha-Solvay Battery Research Center and the Gunsan Green Tire Silica Plant in Korea.

 

 ‘It is the climate, stupid!’

 

 

 

 

Commentary 2: The new cool in the school

Despite the fact that sustainable development, ESG, CSR activities are the keyword for survival, the current sustainability evaluation criteria has various gray zones to pinpoint. Below is an interesting article which gives us questions on reviewing the current norm. This article has been shared to some of our delegates of our local site. Thank you for our responders for sharing their views! (Click to see original article)

seung-eun lee

 

Implementation of new opinions in to the system and assessment procedures are mandatory for spreading ESG 

Seung-Eun Lee (R&I Korea Director) 

The so called MZ generation (Millennial + Z generation, 1981~2010 year born) have rised as the new consumer power whom the market and corporates are keeping a close watch on. This generation actively communicates on platforms like the social media which is creating both a new way of living and a new consumption trend. I personally became curious about this generation.

 

Unlike the elder generation, the MZ generation focuses on their personal happiness, and on the same time respects the values of other people. This particular age group prepare their far future by working and investing, but also try to enjoy and make the most out the their present. Some of these individuals boldly consumes limited edition or customized products in order to express themselves. In addition, in order to manifest their value or beliefs (Meaning out), they have active will for consumption of goods with containing meanings of the environment, fair, human rights and public ethics value. An interesting point to take notice is the  MZ generation’s voluntary participation and response for ESG. This particular age group actively communicate their experience on valuable consumption via the social network platform, and express their opinions on the social issues. I would say that this is a naissance of a ‘cool’ Neoanthropinae.

 

In the meanwhile, I would like to throw a question on “how is the current status of corporates?” As if it is a common trend of nowadays, the media reports that the majority of companies are trying to improve and change the eco-system to support and commit for and ESG governance. However I question again on “whether that is the reality?”.

 

First of all, when comparing the speed of influence of ESG governance, the level of recognition is improving, but still is at a low level. Still values as cost reduction or the sacrifice of an individual for the majority is observed in organizations managed by older generations. Global issues such as the climate change or need of shift of social understanding is recognized as stories which are unrelated with their daily lives, and ESG is simply a fairytale for those who do not understand the difficulty in business reality.

For this generation, if ESG is what one cannot avoid, it is just a tool to ‘Green wash’ others. In order to escape from this way of thinking and to successfully implement ESG into our daily lives, sincerity is the key. Continuous education and enlightenment is crucial to increase the level of understanding.

 

Secondly, the expansion of ESG governance limited on to conglomerates is a gray zone to spread the message to the whole society. For example, there are only a minority of corporates which have a protocol for the Severe Accident Punishment Act which is coming effective in 2022. This may be interpreted as a burden and pressure for small sized companies, where their key conglomerate partners would force for ESG requirements. Therefore, there should be systematic preparation and protocols supported by the government in order to truly implement ESG in the society.

The baby boomer generation which was the foundation of the economy is now aging. Already in process, the ratio of MZ generation would increase in the number of the workforce population. Old corporate which follow the communication and organizational culture of the past would naturally fall behind. If corporates do not understand and go along with the life style and value of MZ generations, they would be casted out by the ‘cool’ Neoanthropinae.

 

 

mz brain