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Korea Times sheds light on ESG through global forum


Korea Times Chairman Seung Myung-ho delivers a welcome speech at the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Korea Times Chairman Seung Myung-ho delivers a welcome speech at the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

By Kim Hyun-bin

Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) has become a hot topic around the world, with governments and major conglomerates prioritizing eco-friendly objectives in their pursuit of higher earnings. ESG practices are starting to be viewed as the foundation for continued growth at corporations and governments.

Against this backdrop, The Korea Times held the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) building in Seoul, Thursday, to highlight the importance of sustainable growth through ESG and offer new insights by inviting renowned professionals from the government, businesses and academia to share their perspectives on better implementing ESG strategies. However, Korean companies are still considered to be in the early stages of pursuing ESG principles compared to their foreign peers.

"For decades, conglomerates were focused solely on maximizing profits and enhancing their corporate value. As a result, many of them have shown substantial growth and prospered. However, in the current era, they are paying a hefty price in exchange for rapid growth in terms of global warning that is caused by environmental pollution," Korea Times Chairman Seung Myung-ho said during a welcome speech at the forum. "The corporations' societal roles are now becoming greater each year in order to swiftly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resolve climate change and other global crises."

The 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum is getting ready to start at the KCCI building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
The 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum is getting ready to start at the KCCI building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seung believes the days when conglomerates only had to focus on surviving have passed, and they now must think about continued growth and sustainability.

"Through ESG management, entities could take environmental and societal responsibility and in the long run will have a positive impact on corporate performance. Already, advanced countries have been announcing and strengthening ESG regulations along with climate change efforts," the chairman added. "Our corporations will need to actively engage in ESG management and set it as a growth driver within their corporate strategies. Implementing ESG management will bring about a transparent management image and the improved brand image will become another growth driver that will create a virtuous cycle."

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki delivered the opening speech on the Korean government's ESG strategies for sustainable growth, followed by McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader, who stressed that ESG is not only the right direction but also a smart move for the post COVID-19 era.

Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung reads the program during the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the KCCI building in Seoul, Thursday. Executives of major Korean financial groups, conglomerates and foreign businesses participated in the event. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung reads the program during the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the KCCI building in Seoul, Thursday. Executives of major Korean financial groups, conglomerates and foreign businesses participated in the event. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

The forum was divided into two main sessions. The first session, "ESG and Sustainable Finance," touched on the topics for the post-COVID agenda in the financial industry, ESG management, investing and governance reforms of Korean financial firms. Due to the pandemic, distinguished panelists joined the discussion both over the internet and in person.

The panelists included KB Financial Group Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo, National Pension Service Chairman Kim Yong-jin, Carlyle Global Head of Impact Megan Starr, MSCI APAC ESG Client Coverage Head Chitra Hepburn and BNP Paribas Asset Management APAC CEO Steven Billiet. The session was moderated by Institute for Global Economics Chairman Jun Kwang-woo.

The second session focused on the importance of ESG in corporate management. The main topics were ESG becoming the new normal in the business world and the role of conglomerates in getting small businesses to adhere to ESG principles. AMCHAM Korea Chairman James Kim took the role of moderator and panelists included KCCI Executive Vice Chairman Woo Tae-hee, BlackRock Investment Stewardship Team Directory Won Shin-bo, IKEA Korea Chief Fredrik Johansson and P&G Korea CEO Balaka Niyazee.

Attendees and guests at the forum included top executives of major Korean financial groups, conglomerates and foreign businesses as well as ambassadors from various countries.

Statista partner Thomas Clark virtually announces plans to conduct ESG research in Korea along with The Korea Times and its sister paper Hankook Ilbo at the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
Statista partner Thomas Clark virtually announces plans to conduct ESG research in Korea along with The Korea Times and its sister paper Hankook Ilbo at the 2021 Korea Times Global ESG Forum held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries building in Seoul, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

The Korea Times and its sister paper Hankook Ilbo will work with Statista to conduct research on local conglomerates' ESG efforts.

"My friends at The Korea Times, Hankook Ilbo and Statista are considering doing a big research project in ESG in Korea. In a way, looking at all the data out there in ESG from hundreds of companies and then comparing it by setting up 30 to 40 key performance indicators, then compiling the list where we will have 100-150 companies that in our opinion deserve the title of Korea's most responsible companies," Statista partner Thomas Clark said in a virtual address at the forum. "We hope to start the project in autumn and ideally to publish the rankings in the beginning of 2022."


Kim Hyun-bin hyunbin@koreatimes.co.kr


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