SM at the forefront of practical sustainability

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Acknowledging the critical role of the business sector to global efforts at sustainability, SM Investments Corporation shared its practical and local approach towards a better future for people and planet at a recent ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Summit. 

Addressing key professionals and various stakeholders, SM Investments Consultant and Head of Investor Relations and Sustainability Timothy Daniels related how the SM Group builds its sustainability programs by identifying specific problems and opportunities from a local lens even as it adheres to global frameworks.

“With sustainability as a priority and given our nationwide footprint, we do sign up for many frameworks and reporting standards. But how we practice sustainability is much more practical and on-the-ground,” Daniels said. 

“We think of sustainability as something we do every day within the group and in how we operate our businesses. We look at what’s practical and material. Given the impact of our footprint, our actions are based on being responsible and in finding ways where we can make a difference to the Filipino and the unique ecosystems and risk environments of the country,” he added. 

For people

As SM expands its reach across the country, it has been able to tap into communities and identify issues most important to them.

“It’s issues like helping in developing their communities, finding meaningful employment, gaining financial inclusion, being treated fairly, developing green habits, and having access to healthcare and education,” Daniels said.

“Our malls continue to serve as vibrant centers of community life, fostering entrepreneurship and social connections. Our residential developments include social and wellness initiatives. Our offices are committed to using renewable energy. SM builds medical facilities and sends students to schools as scholars,” Daniels added.

SM currently employs over 130,000 people and has clear diversity and inclusion policies in place that ensure equal treatment to all regardless of background. Over 63 percent of SM employees are women and over 58 percent of executive roles are held by women, he added. 

He also underscored that almost 65 percent of Filipino adults still do not have access to full modern banking and financial services. 

“They need access to credit, financing their business ideas, safe savings and insurance. Our banks BDO and China Bank continuously work for their financial inclusion by increasing branches and personal banking relationships,” Daniels said.

For planet

SM acknowledges the responsibility of protecting and rehabilitating its assets, given its nationwide footprint.  

“We are one of 18 mega-biodiverse countries in the world, and we are one of the least contributing countries to global greenhouse gases—and yet we are among the top three countries most affected. At SM, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to try to help address this issue,” Daniels said. 

Some programs SM has put in place include marine protection efforts at Hamilo Coast; a partnership between SM Prime and Japanese company GUUN Co. Ltd. for recycling waste; championing sustainable products in the SM department stores with the Green Finds program; BDO’s Green Bonds to fund renewable projects and Blue Bonds for water-related sustainable projects.

“SM is also now practically involved in generating more renewable energy with the acquisition of the Philippine Geothermal Production Company,” Daniels said.

Global issues, local solutions

Daniels said that while many of the sustainability issues we face are global, the best solutions are always local. 

“Because of SM’s footprint, access to capital, the number of people it employs, the number of consumers who trust us, it is both a privilege and a responsibility to act on sustainability issues on a local level. It’s in our local actions that we try to make a difference,” Daniels said.  

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