Tracing its roots to 1981 when Tanoto Foundation Founder & Chairman Sukanto Tanoto and his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto established a kindergarten and elementary school in rural Besitang, Sumatera Utara,...
BNP Paribas recently concluded its eighth annual Sustainable Future Forum, a three-week event from 18 September to 6 October 2023. With 16 in-person gatherings held worldwide, BNP’s flagship forum showcased world-leading insights from top regional experts, aiming to guide corporates to find the right solutions to navigate their upcoming transitions.
Mr Bey Soo Khiang, Vice Chairman of RGE, participated in a panel titled “Scaling New Technologies to Accelerate Transition – Tackling the Infrastructure Question in Southeast Asia”. Dominic Pan, Managing Director of Global Capital Markets at BNP Paribas, moderated the discussion, which also featured Aishwarya Iyer, Head of Sustainability at Pavilion Energy and Laurent Poirot, Head of Product Strategy & Development of Equity Markets at SGX.
Embedding ESG into business strategies
In the evolving landscape of global business, ESG considerations have emerged as pivotal drivers of corporate strategy. RGE is leading the way in this area, showing a strong commitment to sustainability. Mr. Bey said, “For us, the application of technology must make business sense.” He further spotlighted the company’s strategic shift towards a zero-carbon paradigm, anchored by the 2030 plan. “Sustainability starts with us” is a way of work that resonates deeply within RGE. This is embedded across the spectrum of activities, from sustainable sourcing and biodiversity conservation to pioneering investments in renewable energy and R&D.
Delving deeper into the 2030 plan, one can see RGE’s strategic pillars for decarbonisation. These include focused energy reduction measures, a consistent shift to renewable sources, and strong efforts in carbon capture. Complementing this is RGE’s dedication to the circular economy, underscored by innovative ventures such as urban textile recycling, about which Mr Bey shared, “We have invested about $6 million with the material science faculty at NTU to really help us research and design an urban-fit textile recycling plant”. Mr Bey added that practical initiatives that can create a direct impact is the way to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.
Steering the Green Wave with New Technologies
In RGE’s pursuit of sustainable transition targets, technology is undeniably at the forefront. As Mr Bey highlighted, RGE’s partnership with the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions is a testament to its commitment to leveraging technology for sustainability, particularly in enhancing the identification and monitoring of quality carbon credits through satellite technology.
In the realm of bio-based fuels, RGE is also making strides. A joint venture with Cepsa is set to construct Southern Europe’s largest second-generation biofuels plant. Upon completion, RGE will supply agricultural waste as feedstock, producing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) that can reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% compared to traditional jet fuel. To truly scale these “new” technologies, Mr Bey believes in the necessity of unlocking more capital, ensuring transparency through data access, and fostering accountability. He emphasised the importance of “helping the market to have a quality assurance process”.
Private companies, while striving for sustainability, often find themselves navigating a complex landscape of both challenges and opportunities. Mr Bey highlighted RGE’s proactive efforts in conservation, particularly the Riau Ecosystem Restoration area which is twice the size of Singapore.
RGE’s journey has been anchored on their 5Cs business philosophy. This approach emphasises the importance of community, country, climate, and customer before the company. A testament to this commitment is the Production-Protection model RGE adopts, conserving one hectare of forest for every hectare of plantation. Its flagship RER project has restored more than 150,000 hectares of crucial peat forest in Indonesia.
In conclusion, Mr Bey’s insights underscored RGE’s proactive approach to sustainability. Through strategic ESG integration, technological innovations, and a commitment to conservation, RGE exemplifies how businesses can navigate the complexities of today’s environmental challenges while remaining at the forefront of their industries.