It is my pleasure to deliver remarks on behalf of bp Trinidad and Tobago.I would like to begin by congratulating Amcham for organizing this conference.
The topic – Environmental, Social and Governance – or ESG – is a timely one. We see ESG issues and requirements gaining more and more prominence globally particularly as the world grapples with difficult issues such as climate change, inequality and social justice. For all of our organizations to continue to compete internationally and to deliver strong business performance, the time has come for more national conversations, shared learnings and actions across all sectors.
You could argue that national conferences such as these are, in fact, overdue so we certainly welcome the decision by AmCham to take a leadership role in the ESG space.
Why discuss ESG? Why now?
To say the world is changing and at pace is an understatement. The definition of business success is fast evolving and for organisations, demonstrating healthy financial performance is important but no longer enough. The expectations of investors, consumers, governments, civil society groups are fast changing and there is a different level of accountability expected of corporations.
In short, these stakeholders are not only interested in what an organization has been able to accomplish but also ‘how’ organisations go about achieving results is gaining importance.We are seeing value being placed on good governance, social performance and protection of the environment. These three pillars are inter-related. Financial success without regard for social or environmental impacts cannot be sustainable and is no longer acceptable. And the converse of that we have seen play out on many occasions where organizations who fail to pay attention to ESG issues pay for that failure in poor financial performance. Organisations must demonstrate their commitment to ESG principles and can face backlash if they fall short of expectations.
No longer is ESG a “nice to have” but rather it needs to be a central part of corporate strategy and value creation. Having a clearly defined ESG strategy not only allows you to build reputation and trust but can also drive innovation and growth, reduce costs and risk and help your organization to attract and retain talent.
A bit about our journey at bp…
In the case of the energy sector, the world is demanding more energy but energy that is lower carbon and affordable and reliable. The dilemma (or the trilemma as we call it) that the sector has before it is how to meet that demand for energy in a way that’s kind to the planet, that considers the social impacts of our operations while at the same time satisfies the needs of our shareholders and the countries where we operate. bp’s approach to ESG is embodied in our Sustainability Frame which outlines our climate aims for getting to net zero, as well as our goals for improving people’s lives and caring for the planet.
Our approach to sustainability is targeted, systematic and collaborative. It rests on strong, well-established foundations that guide the way we workand help us to focus our efforts on where we can make the greatest difference for people and our planet.
We are working to embed sustainability more widely and deeply in our culture, business decisions, processes and governance. This is an ever evolving space and while we have work to do the first win is that sustainability is central to our corporate strategy, we have publicly declared ambitious goals and every part of our operation must have concrete plans in place and resourced to deliver these goals.
Globally we are making progress against our sustainability aims and locally I am very proud of the progress we are making in Trinidad and Tobago as well. Whether that is reducing our operating emissions, investing in cleaner energy such as solar power, managing our social and environmental impacts differently and embedding sustainability into our culture at bpTT.
Later on in the conference, my colleagues discuss two of the initiatives that embody this approach:
One presentation will discuss how we’re managing environmental and social concerns related to our pipeline replacement project in South East Trinidad. This is one of the first projects that we will be delivering in alignment with our new sustainability aims and we are excited about sharing what we’ve learnt.
We will also be sharing how we are considering ESG issues and building sustainability into our procurement practices.
Sorry to disappoint! I won’t be offering any spoilers, so you will have to attend the sessions to learn more. On a personal level, I am excited about the conference because I believe it comes at an ideal time for Trinidad and Tobago. This country, with its established history in energy, manufacturing and services like trade and finance, stands ready to embrace ESG. From my experience in the energy sector, in other roles in business, as well as a director of Amcham, I am aware of the momentum that is gathering as organisations focus on ESG issues. And as practioner in this space for the past 17 years it is gratifying to see the “coming of age” of ESG – where it is no longer viewed as simple philanthropy or nice to do, or only something large global companies need to be concerned about but rather seen as a business imperative for all companies large or small.
I can see various sectors represented this morning. This is an encouraging first step. This conference presents us with the ideal opportunity to establish a common understanding of what ESG is, where we are in our ESG journey and how we can learn from each other. Finally, although I am excited about the conference, the real value in events such as these is not only in discussion and sharing best practices but in translating that into action so that collectively we can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.
But, small steps are the key.
Let’s focus first on finding common ground and establishing a strong frame to move forward.
Congratulations again to Amcham for organizing the conference and I looking forward to the next two days.