Now in its third year, HSBC Private Banking’s successful client Sustainability Leadership Programme set in the breath-taking jungles of Borneo continues to immerse a new generation on business practices beyond impact investing. As climate change and other ecological issues cause controversy and debate in headlines worldwide, it’s nature that can teach valuable lessons on what will happen if we don’t address these, and soon.
"There are three key takeaways," says Matthew Robinson, HSBC’s Head of Sustainable Entrepreneurship within Global Corporate Sustainability. "To raise awareness of sustainability, ask leaders to become role models around values and purpose, and spearhead actions and initiatives that will make the organisation or those partner organisations more sustainable."
We believe that taking a group of young, passionate and ambitious people to Borneo isn’t just an opportunity to promote doing the right thing and being ‘green’. It goes beyond that. There needs to be a new normal or we risk everything we talk about, business and commercially relevant actions and reactions, becoming completely irrelevant in the near future.
"Millennials care deeply about sustainability and climate change. We are committed to engaging and supporting them to achieve their ambitions and make an impact for themselves, their families and their family businesses, plus the communities they serve" says Jennifer Ting, Global Head of Marketing for HSBC Private Banking. "They can learn about the issues in a classroom, but actually being in the middle of the rainforest and observing the impact first-hand really makes it hit home."
Our alumni leave the programme with the objective of advocating the sustainability message within their organisation.
"It’s really a great experience and opens my mind. I thought sustainability is a very simple thing, but it’s actually more complex and a lot more urgent than I urgently thought,’ said Robin Kwee. ‘I’m in a very good position given my urban farming business nature to get people to be a part of the conversation. My ultimate goal is to place the farms in any locations closer to consumers, bringing consistent, high quality food produce across the country and minimise carbon footprint and food miles.’
Engaging HSBC customers in a setting that demonstrates the realities of a destructive species but also the possibilities for hope and change plays a key role in the overall learning journey and the foundation of the event itself. They got to see, experience and understand the value of the rainforest ecosystem during treks into the heart of the forest facilitated by local scientific experts. All work carried out contributed to valuable research being conducted by Earthwatch, a non-profit environmental organisation working in the area.
Each attendee underwent a personal transformation and shift in thinking differently about the world in which they live and work. The jungle provided a backdrop for an exchange of ideas and suggested how as individuals and businesses going forwards could be more robustly and realistically sustainable. At the same time they get to fully understand HSBC’s global commitment to sustainability, and ways to protect and de-risk their businesses by leveraging our network of specialists, scientists and non-governmental organisations.
Commitments made by participants over the years have included sweeping changes such as greening supply chains, introducing job titles that include "sustainability" and ensuring that environmental impact is top of mind in any business-related discussions.
Julia Bensily, a former participant, wasn’t sure about how she could make an impact on sustainability but was passionate to learn more. After the programme, she was fully committed to reviewing her family’s large construction business. She found a partner to help develop sustainable materials and this in turn created a more sustainable supply chain. It also enhanced the reputation of her family business as a sustainably-minded and future focused company.
Borneo calls to us to take action and we will listen. With further sustainability events planned throughout 2019, we’ll continue to reinforce our commitment to supporting more sustainable business practices like reducing energy consumption, switching to renewable energy sources, minimising supply chain impacts and cutting waste.
Ultimately we want and need to work together for a healthier, more sustainable world.