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2015 Sustainability Report: Tracking our sustainability progress

Posted: Aug 29, 2016 2 minute read Lim Shu Ling

It’s taken months of preparation and the collaboration of many colleagues and departments within GAR/PT SMART to produce our 2015 Sustainability Report which covers events in 2014 and 2015. Finally with the report going live, I can take a step back and weigh its significance.

GAR is one of the handful of companies listed in Singapore which publishes a regular Sustainability Report which focuses on ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) factors. We’ve been doing so since 2011, the same year in which we adopted our pioneering Forest Conservation Policy.

Since we started, we have been reporting according to an international framework designed by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting guidelines are very comprehensive and the reference books on their indicators are almost encyclopaedic in their breadth and depth.

In line with the guidelines, this is the first of our reports to include a materiality survey. We reached out to key external and internal stakeholders in a survey to help determine the most material factors which impact our business.

As a major agri-business, the top concerns centred around deforestation, social and community relations and supply chain sustainability – all of which are areas which GAR/PT SMART have invested in and are working on.

Highlights of our Environmental Management achievements
Highlights of our Environmental Management achievements.
Highlights of what we do in the community
Highlights of what we do in the community.

Why is Sustainability Reporting necessary?

To date, not many firms carry out sustainability reporting because it requires a substantial investment in resources, time and energy. It’s generally regarded as supplementary to the company Annual Report – something nice to have but not necessary for compliance with financial regulations. So it’s mainly bigger firms operating in sensitive sectors such as natural resources or those who are more progressive that have been willing to invest in the production of such reports.

But that’s rapidly changing and sustainability reporting is becoming the norm rather than the exception. This is due to the fact that the public is becoming more educated and concerned about the ESG credentials of companies which make the products they buy. This in turn has led to rising investor concern over ESG as “sustainability” becomes a household term.

We see this trend already taking hold in Asia. Starting from 2018, the SGX will require all companies listed in Singapore to publish an annual Sustainability Report.

This is where our investment in sustainability reporting is going to pay off. As we’ve been following a comprehensive model of reporting we are already ahead of the curve.

Numbers, indicators and data aside, the Sustainability Report is a document that records our achievements and failures. This is the real world after all and in promising to report transparently, we have to admit both our hits and misses. Even as we celebrate our achievements, we can take stock of what else we need to do and the gaps we need to close in order to improve. The report also puts data into context so that we can see what impacts the lives of thousands of employees that work for GAR/PT SMART as well as the wider community across our concessions.

To all those involved in helping to prepare the 2015 Sustainability Report, you can be proud of the fact that your hard work has gone into the production of an increasingly vital document, one that will help GAR’s stakeholders get a clearer understanding of the work we do on the ground and will influence investor interest in us as a sustainable company.

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