A new “plan of action” is in the making following a high-powered virtual roundtable comprising a broad range of panellists from NGOs, corporates as well as the international investment community, in addressing the critical challenges facing members of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in Pakistan, the Pakistan’s Business Council’s Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB) and the Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG).
A vibrant discussion about how to move the country forward in reducing plastic and waste, lowering carbon emissions, making a more positive social impact and trusting businesses as stewards led to a formal “plan of action” letter to policy makers in Pakistan.
The online conference featured contributions from prominent environment and sustainability advocates and trailblazers such as Hammad Naqi Khan, DG, World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan, Jimmy Greer, Head of Sustainability, ACCA, Samar Hasan, Co-founder and CEO, Epiphany, Muhammad Shamoon Tariq, Vice Chief Investment Officer/ Partner, Tundra Fonder AB, Ahsan Jamil, President & CEO, Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance, Ehsan Malik, CEO, Pakistan Business Council, Waqar Ahmed, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestle Pakistan, Babar Lakhani, Chief Executive Officer, Lakson Investments Limited, and Kate Lazarus, Asia ESG Advisory Lead, IFC – International Finance Corporation.
“We can’t deny that there is a sense of urgency here. No longer can companies ‘fake it till you make it,’ so in some ways we need a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to corporate governance,” explained Ahsan Jamil, CEO of the Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance.
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“We are being forced to accept the impact of the megatrends facing Pakistan, like climate change, water scarcity and emissions. If we are going to achieve a greener, more inclusive and prosperous Pakistan, then the current set of leaders who are navigating us must do things very differently to what they have done in the past,” he added.
Ehsan Malik, CEO of the Pakistan Business Council, explained how there was a steep learning curve before Covid-19 and that this crisis has accelerated the need for greater awareness: “We are at a stage now where we need more collaboration, clarity and formality. Some companies are working towards sustainability within their own industry, but businesses need more guidance and education about how to impact Pakistan’s community and economy. The PSX, for example, is turning the dial in the right direction, but we need to help businesses take action and move forward.”
Arif Mirza, Head of Policy for Middle East and South Asia at ACCA, also pointed out how integrated thinking for ESG should drive internal reporting: “There is an alphabet soup of (ESG) reporting standards out there. When it comes to the accounting profession and financial reporting, there’s a huge cloud of ambiguity around ESG. Everyone knows they need to report (on financials) using IFRS, but it’s time we have some kind of ESG reporting standards convergence moving forward.”
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General of WWF Pakistan, concluded that we need to raise the bars: “Not one, single factor can address or solve these urgent challenges because they are too huge and complex, particularly in Pakistan, where poverty and the loss of biodiversity are worsening. Despite the present government’s new green initiative, we need to work harder to make better outcomes for the people, the economy and the planet, and today’s talk emphasised how this can only happen with strong partnerships on all levels.”
All three organisations working on this “call to action” are non-profit and registered under Pakistan’s Section 42. As Mirza, explains, “Our agendas, in terms of adding value to the public and business community are shared. Our ambitions in the environmental and social and governance agenda, and thus the prosperity of the people of Pakistan is very much linked to economic growth.”