‘Lessons from social tragedies can help improve sustainability’

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 8, 2018 - 14:37
  • Updated : Feb 8, 2018 - 14:39
FleishmanHillard Korea, a global communications consulting firm, hosted a panel discussion titled “Ensuring Sustainable and Responsible Consumption and Production” to discuss the sustainability and social responsibility of corporations in the era of the “fourth industrial revolution” and to reinforce consumer activism.

The discussion was part of the First Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development jointly organized by the Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment at Yonsei University and Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens. 

Moderated by Brian Kim, senior vice president of FleishmanHillard Korea, the session was participated by professor Tony Michell of the Korea Development Institute, professor Young-kyun Chang, the assistant director of the Sogang Sustainable Business Ethics Research Institute, Charles Kwak, corporate affairs director of Oxy RB, and Steve Duckworth, managing director of ERM Korea.

The speakers emphasized the need for a global, collective effort toward achieving the 12th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nation: ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SCP).

Those who took part in the discussion agreed that Korean society should actively share and evaluate lessons learned from unprecedented social tragedies -- such as scandals over humidifier sanitizers, carcinogenic sanitary pads and pesticide-tainted eggs -- and focus on establishing long-term preventive measures.

Professor Michell said, “It is important that all relevant stakeholders at the government, corporates and their supply chain, civil society and consumers cooperate based on an in-depth understanding of the SCP.”

Michell named “predictability” as a top area of improvement for the Korean government through proactive monitoring, the transparent flow of information and collaboration with the private sector.

Professor Chang views sustainability as the core of corporate competitiveness and financial stability, and a virtue that management must focus on. Chang said that “various organizations and departments must communicate in a transparent way with science-based data when trying to find a solution” for environmental and consumer issues that often occur due to multiple causes created by multiple parties.

Kwak of Oxy RB said that companies’ responsibilities include not only providing quality products, but also helping consumers make informed choices based on transparency of product information.

“Oxy RB, as one of the responsible companies of the humidifier sanitizer issue, has offered a sincere apology to the victims and their families, and has been providing compensation based on the invaluable views of the victims and their families, as well as UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” Kwak added.

“SCP must be realized through regulations and programs in the public and private sectors. Businesses can aim for both public good and profit by taking on product stewardship and life cycle assessment from supply of raw materials to sales and disposal,” said Duckworth of ERM Korea.

Yvonne Park, managing director of FleishmanHillard Korea, said, “Today’s discussion navigated through ways to land on practical and forward-looking solutions based on the lessons learned from a number of social and environmental issues over the last few years. We hope that the Korean society can continue to create exemplary cases for SCP and contribute to the world’s sustainable growth.”