Making a business case for biodiversity


By Leslie Castillo & Anna Maria Nisce

Seventeen-year-old Joshua Miguel C. Danac may be young but he understands what many people older than him do not get: Achieving any kind of real change when it comes to biodiversity and the environment needs the active involvement and participation of everybody.

The Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit scholars are up for the challenge with able support from the HFI Board of Trustees represented by (standing, center from left) Chairman Richard L. Lee, president; Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo and Member Edward S. Go.

“The full and active participation of each and every one toward conservation efforts is crucial to achieving solutions to environmental problems. That being said, little things do count—conserving water and electricity however you can, avoiding the use of plastic straws and other implements, reducing waste and encouraging awareness and participation among peers.

“One might think that climate change, biodiversity loss and other grand issues require grand, sweeping solutions—but the collective force born from individual efforts, however small, will certainly be felt, as well,” said the BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology major from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Danac is one of 10 scholars being supported by Hari Foundation Inc. (HFI) under the Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit (HNTC) project. HFI is the corporate social responsibility arm of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Hari), the official distributor of Hyundai vehicles in the Philippines.

Dr. Berthold Seibert (from left), ACB partner and program director of the GIZ CARE4BioDiv Programme; Vanessa Carriedo, ACB Communication and Public Affairs head; Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, ACB executive director; Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, HFI president and CEO of Haripresident; and Renato Pizarro, HFI executive director.

Launched in 2013, HNTC is the flagship program conducted by HFI in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute.

“HNTC is designed to be a premier climate-science literacy program that fosters and nurtures the innovative spirit among outstanding public high-school students to take the lead in helping building a climate change-resilient Philippines,” HFI President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.

To date, HNTC has inspired and educated more than 200 high-school students on matters concerning biodiversity, the environment and climate change.

Bret Michaels de Leon, a 17-year-old Environmental Science major from the Ateneo de Manila University, sees the HNTC as “an innovative means and a perfect avenue in addressing problems related to climate change, environment and biodiversity.”

The Hyundai Logistics Center was awarded the Kamagong, the highest ranking for green buildings, by the Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI) represented by President and Executive Director Arch. Amado P. De Jesus Jr. (second from right). Receiving the award were (from left) Hyundai Motor Co. Commercial Vehicles Division President Seong Kwon-han, Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. President and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo and HariChairman Edward S. Go.

In the case of 18-year-old Christine Joy Reloza, being part of HNTC taught her “we’re all responsible for the environmental changes that we’re experiencing. This is our only home so we should be held accountable for the good or bad actions that we did to the environment. One thing about climate-change mitigation and biodiversity conservation is it should always start within myself, within ourselves, because if it is not us, then who?—No one”.

Championing biodiversity in the business sector

“This is a clear example of how business is using its resources and influence to help conserve biodiversity,” Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva said of the HNTC.

He explained, “While businesses can have direct or indirect impact on biodiversity, they also have relevant biodiversity-related resources, knowledge and expertise needed to support the conservation of biological resources. The business sector is an integral part of the solution to biodiversity loss.”

According to Oliva, in the past, biodiversity was a topic alien to the business sector. Over the years, scientific evidence has demonstrated the direct link between biodiversity and the economy.

Today, many industry players are aware that besides inflation and competition, biodiversity loss could reduce the supply of raw materials, thus, adversely affect businesses, he said. An increasing number of companies are assessing how biodiversity loss may impact their bottom lines. Some companies are studying how their operations impact biodiversity and the steps necessary to minimize such impacts.

In March ACB and HFI signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) to firm up their partnership in generating awareness about the intricate link among biological resources, the economic well-being of industries and the people who depend on these businesses for livelihood.

Under the MOC, HFI supports the Asean Biodiversity Heroes, a project designed to recognize outstanding individuals from the Asean member-states who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries and the region. Partners for the Asean Biodiversity Heroes also include the Philippines’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union. The Asean Biodiversity Heroes is one of the commemorative activities for this year’s Golden Anniversary of Asean.

As a sustaining activity under the MOC, HFI will support the Adopt-an-Asean Heritage Park Programme, which seeks to protect areas of high conservation importance, which preserve a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems in the 10-country-member Asean region. It will also provide mobility support during ACB events.

“Engaging the business community and the private sector in promoting biodiversity and business initiatives has been one of the emerging key strategies to halt the loss of biodiversity. A number of businesses and private-sector groups are implementing sound corporate social responsibility investment to promote and advocate biodiversity conservation and natural resources management,” Oliva said.

He added that innovations from companies like Hyundai are crucial in addressing biodiversity conservation challenges.

Going green

Alongside efforts at boosting climate-science learning through HFI, Hari as a business has been moving toward green building and operations, led by its flagship facility, the Hyundai Logistics Center (HLC), which was inaugurated on April 28, 2015.

Rising from a 10-hectare property in Calamba City, Laguna province, the state-of-the-art home base for Hyundai passenger and commercial vehicles boasts of cutting-edge design, construction, use of material and operations, which adhere to the highest standards of sustainable architecture.

HLC is envisioned to revolutionize the automotive and property development industries with its cutting-edge green technology and operations that promises more efficient delivery of Hyundai products and services within an eco-friendly work environment that upholds the well-being of employees and the surrounding communities.

On June 15, 2016, the Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI) awarded HLC with the Kamagong plaque, signifying that the facility has achieved the highest ranking of Geared for Resiliency and Energy Efficiency for the Environment (GREEEN).

Perez-Agudo said, “Hari has been engaged in a wide variety of partnerships and programs, ranging from volunteer tree planting to education modules in environmental stewardship. But we realized that we lacked one thing: a concrete and unmistakable statement of our commitment, as a business and as a responsible corporate citizen, to responsible innovation—and that is the Hyundai Logistics Center.”

The “greening” of Hari’s business operations comes full circle with its fast-growing nationwide fortress of 42 dealerships embracing best green practices, from construction of physical space to day-to-day operations.

By 2019, in partnership with PGBI, the entire network is expected to rise as the first and only GREEEN automotive network in the Philippines and Asia Pacific.

Fostering partnerships for the environment

Since it was formed in 2006, Hari, through HFI, has engaged stakeholders, employees, customers, dealerships and its many business partners in a number of initiatives geared toward environmental protection. These projects, born out of partnerships with like-minded organizations and individuals, include among many: the donation and planting of 15,000 tree seedlings to Haribon Foundation’s “rain-forestation” efforts in three sites, covering 12 hectares in Barangay Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal province, which was devastated by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

In 2011 Haribon declared Hari as the highest single donor to the campaign; the donation of three Hari “Ecovans”, fully customized Hyundai H-100 vans that serve as Haribon’s classroom-on-wheels to promote environmental awareness among students from North to South of the country; and the design and construction of the Hyundai Center for Green Innovation (HCGI), located at the GK Enchanted Farm in Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan province.

Inaugurated on May 19, 2013, HCGI is now a venue of choice of schools and businesses to train people in the concept and urgency of environmental stewardship as the key to growing a sustainable green economy and community for the Filipino.

On March 30 HFI took its green advocacy further by organizing the Hyundai Innovation Congress (iCON). Conceived to spread and embed the culture of innovation in the Philippine context, iCON invited ACB’s Oliva to speak about the urgency for businesses to rethink and innovate in the way they use the country’s wealth of natural resources for the sake of sustainability.

“By forming public-private partnerships, HFI aims to advance relevant and sustainable projects that will truly make a change in the area of climate-change adaptation and mitigation, as well as biodiversity conservation. But for us to gain ground and sustain our efforts, we need to take a long, hard look at the formation and training of our next-generation leaders and innovators. Thus, HFI’s core advocacy for education in climate change awareness becomes more relevant than ever,” Perez-Agudo said.

The future is green

The young people whose lives have been touched by HFI’s green revolution are giving a thumbs-up to how the automaker is going the extra mile for the environment.

“I like the way how HFI incorporates environment-friendly projects as part of their agenda and how they inspire young people to pursue careers related to climate science. It is an honor to be a part of a private institution that cares for the environment and its people. HFI opened an opportunity in my life that I never thought I would have,” Reloza said.

For HFI scholar Patrick Angelo Narciso of UP Diliman, the most important lesson “would be the shared consciousness that we have to take care of the environment. That anyone who breathes air, appreciates the sun and dances in the rain should take care of the only home they’ve got. And HFI showed us that this shared consciousness could be put into action and. therefore, even if through baby steps, we can all do something.”

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