KUCHING: Malaysia’s largest renewable energy developer and provider Sarawak Energy recently shared its response to the impact of Covid-19 on its business operations while continuing to build a sustainable energy future for Sarawak and the region at the GOESG Asean Corporate Sustainability Virtual Summit 2020.
The two-day summit, themed ‘The Business of Recovering Better – A Resilient & Sustainable Asean by Design’, aimed to promote sustainability thinking and strategies as part of Asean’s economic reset post Covid-19 by accelerating the adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations among businesses.
Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili spoke at a panel session titled ‘Corporate Leadership for the Asean We Want’, which was moderated by Nitin Jaiswal, head of Government Affairs and Strategic Relations at Bloomberg LP, Asia Pacific.
Also on the panel with Sharbini were Aqua Indonesia and Danone Waters SEA senior vice president Corine Tap; Zalora chief executive officer Gunjan Soni; and The Stock Exchange of Thailand president Dr Pakorn Peetathawatchai.
Sharbini said that it was important to be agile and be able to quickly adapt to crisis situations.
“Our main focus is keeping the lights on for Sarawak throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our fundamental ambition to grow regionally as a provider and developer of renewable energy has not changed, although our delivery mechanisms and methods have transformed due to the restrictions in movement,” he said.
Sharbini noted that the pandemic also catalysed change in the way the business is run as it accelerated their aspiration to be a digital utility by 2025 as well as their transition into flexible work arrangements. “We took transformative steps in changing the way we work to remain efficient by learning to achieve a lot more with the same level of resources. “We leveraged on technology to improve the efficiency of our business operations whilst reducing the number of staff on site.
“The latter has yielded some secondary benefits – our estimates show that the average reduction in carbon emission is 40kg per day for our HQ alone from the reduced commuting,” he remarked. Sharbini pointed out that the development of renewable and affordable hydropower in Sarawak supports the diverse application of alternative renewables like solar and hydrogen. He informed that they are investing in Sarawak’s first large scale floating solar plant at the Batang Ai Hydroelectric Powerplant.
“Meanwhile, our research into hydrogen and our collaboration with Petronas will enable us to participate in future hydrogen value chain activities and contribute to a sustainable energy future, decarbonise our energy system, and augment what we are already doing via hydropower to provide clean, renewable and affordable energy for Sarawak. “Our main grid carbon intensity has decreased by 76.5 per cent since 2009 with the move into large hydropower generation, showing us the sustainability benefits gained from renewable hydropower over the past decade,” he said. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the two-day summit, the eighth United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Sarawak Energy is the first Malaysian company to become a signatory of the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°Celsius’ campaign, creating value for everyone.
“Its collaboration with UN Global Compact Malaysia and Brunei to launch the Small Medium Enterprise-Sustainable Development Goals (SME-SDG) Toolkit shows great corporate leadership and is a commendable effort to mobilise sustainability actors for SDG 17 – Partnership for the goals,” he said. On the first day of the summit, UN Global Compact Malaysia and Brunei and Sarawak Energy launched the SME-SDG Toolkit for small and medium enterprises who want to incorporate sustainability good practice into their operations. The free-for-use SME-SDG online toolkit is a step-by-step guide and incorporates a suite of tools, guides and other resources for SMEs to steer them towards a more sustainable business model.
Sarawak Energy senior manager for Sustainability, Mohamad Irwan Aman, also spoke at a panel session titled ‘Sustainable Business Strategies the Asean Way – From HOW to NOW!’, which was moderated by Petronas head for Sustainable Development Management, Sarimah Talib.
It discussed how businesses implement their sustainability agenda in the face of a global pandemic and how sustainability risks can impact an organisation. Irwan said that the company’s commitment to sustainability grew stronger in the midst of the pandemic, and it could be seen throughout the entire organisation. “Every organisation runs into different issues in their sustainability journey.
“We believe the way forward is through reliance on the sustainability community, where sharing good practices and developing strategic alliances amongst organisations will go a long way to help progress sustainability agendas,” he said.