• Donald Eubank

Read the Air presents at Taiwan's Global Corporate Sustainability Forum

Updated: Aug 2



BUSINESS & THE SDGS - RtA's Donald Eubank presents at the Global Corporate Sustainability Conference in Taipei

We were honored to be invited to present our original findings for the first time in the paper, “Everything or Anything, How Businesses Can Start with the SDGs” at the annual Global Corporate Sustainability Forum (GCSF) held in Taipei on Nov. 22 and 23.

THE SHORTCUT

  • RtA presents original research on how companies are progressing on the journey to adopt sustainable business models for the first time at Taipei's Global Corporate Sustainability Forum

  • Taiwan is a leader in Asia, but should a transition from its focus on CSR to one on a functional role for sustainability practitioners in strategic decision making

  • Download our full paper “Everything or Anything, How Businesses Can Start with the SDGs” here


GCSF Professional winners for sustainability leadership

Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-Jen opened the event, which gathered more than 1,500 representatives of the business, academic and policy-making communities at Taipei's iconic Grand Hotel. Celebrating the high level of sustainability reporting in the country, Vice President Chen stated that this transparency reveals the country’s business community is committed to improving their operational performance in the context of creating a healthy environment and supporting social well-being.


GCSF handed out multiple awards to businesses for their sustainability efforts, with the top honors presented to Hewlett Packard’s Chief Sustainability Officer Christopher Wellise and AU Optronics Chairman and CEO Paul Peng.

Read the Air's co-founder Donald Eubank and research associate Calvin Chu presented our paper on the second day at the Corporate Sustainability and Performance session hosted by the National Taipei University College of Business. “Everything and Anything” is first run-through of our findings after nine months of interviewing MNCs, SMEs, start-ups and investors around the world. Having spoken to more than 60 different companies, non-profits and individuals, we have identified six stages that company must pass through to achieve a sustainable business model and the current status of the majority of businesses that have set off on this journey.

Here’s the key takeaways of that status report as we presented them at GCSF:

  1. Sustainability is not yet fundamental to business models – This is a journey companies are on and no one has mastered it

  2. Within organizations employees desire to understand sustainability and how it will impact their work

  3. There is a race for talent, who are becoming pickier about a company’s position on sustainability

  4. The supply chain is a major focus of sustainability efforts; there is great room for progress here

  5. Collaboration and partnership are essential to success; efforts required are too complicated to do alone

  6. Investors are acting as enlightened managers of capital to light the way and drive adoption

  7. Greenwashing is not possible, cheap talk is easy to uncover with new frameworks and benchmarking

  8. Companies are trying to move beyond a “Vision” for Sustainability to fully systemizing their initiatives

  9. Companies are struggling to measure and assess performance on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – there are a lack of widely agreed to frameworks and tools, which deters companies from fully moving their businesses towards sustainability

We focused in our discussion on the first and final points – sustainability is not yet fundamental to business models and companies are struggling to measure and assess performance on the SDGs – and presented the solutions that we have found can be applied to these problems. In particular we explored the frameworks offered by SASB, Future-Fit Foundation, B Corp and Circular Economy.

Presenters with Ambassador Eugene Chien (third from left), event organizer and convener of the Alliance for SDGs, and Hsiang Lin-Chih (fourth from left), Dean of NTU College of Business

This was a fantastic event, and it was great to see first-hand the situation in Taiwan. The country is a leader in sustainability, ranked number two in Asia behind Japan. The Secretary General of the Taiwan Academy of Corporate Sustainability Yung-Shuen Shen, the Chairman of the Alliance for Sustainable Development Eugene Chen, and the Senior Executive Vice President of the Taiwan Stock Exchange Rebecca Chen, presented the ambitious efforts that both organizations are advancing to help businesses become even more progressive in their own strategies and operations, especially in adopting the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

One note we would make is that the conversation in Taiwan is still specifically around the work of Corporate Social Responsibility departments. But the reality that we are seeing is that the place of sustainability in an organization is rapidly transforming from what has been a more peripheral position in companies to taking on a more core, functional role in driving strategy. The best examples of corporate leaders in Taiwan, such as AU Optronics and Hsinyi Reality, are clearly adopting the approach of using sustainable concepts to guide decision making. And we believe that there will be other companies that soon start to move more definitely in this direction.

Thank you to GCSF and National Taipei University for the opportunity to join this year’s event and start to reveal the results of our research. Next year we'll hope to be back with our new book to continue the conversation. (Stay tuned, more on that in our next post!)

Download our full paper “Everything or Anything, How Businesses Can Start with the SDGs” here

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