It is my pleasure to deliver remarks on behalf of bp Trinidad and Tobago.
I would like to begin by congratulating AMCHAM for organizing this conference. Creating focus on Environmental, Social and Governance issues is timely. Over the coming two days we will discuss how ESG issues are gaining prominence globally, particularly as the world grapples with difficult issues such as climate change, inequality and social justice. For all of our organizations to continue to compete internationally and to deliver strong business performance, the time has come for more national conversations, shared learnings and actions across all sectors and with varied stakeholders.
Conferences such as these have a critical role to play in building awareness of the issues and an awareness of how the rest of the world is engaging to find solutions. So as a sponsor, we certainly welcome the decision by AMCHAM to take a leadership role in the ESG space – bringing together thought leaders and practitioners with a view to drive action.
Why discuss ESG? And why now?
The definition of business success has evolved, and it is no longer enough to focus solely on providing robust financial returns to shareholders and investors. The expectations of investors, employees, consumers, governments, communities, and the civil society groups that are active in our communities are evolving – and these stakeholders are demanding a different level of responsibility and accountability for HOW business results get delivered. The environmental and social impacts of our business’ operations, in the pursuit of financial returns, must be understood and where there is the potential for negative impacts, those should be mitigated.
Quite simply they expect us to deliver a more sustainable future, and financial success without regard for social or environmental impacts is not sustainable.
What we are seeing play out before us is that organizations who fail to pay attention to ESG issues are increasingly paying the price for that failure – with more difficultly accessing funding, more difficultly accessing markets or retaining customers and more difficulty attracting talented people to join their team.
These trends are expected to intensify, so to ignore the need for a robust approach to ESG is to accept a path to lower competitiveness, slower growth and reduced financial performance.
So ESG a not a “nice to have” but rather needs to be a central part of corporate strategy and your purpose as an organisation.
Having a well-defined ESG or sustainability strategy allows you to drive changes in your organisation, and to make conscious operating choices that minimize and mitigate the impact of your operations on the planet and the people who live in it. And it’s not only about mitigating impacts but driving value for your organization by taking advantage of opportunities as well.
Importantly, it is not driven by a need to improve a company’s reputation for the sake of reputation – it is instead about making our businesses more responsible.
Put simply – it is the right thing to do.
A bit about our journey at bp…
In the case of the energy sector, the world is demanding more energy but energy that is lower carbon, affordable and secure. The dilemma – or the trilemma as we call it – that the sector has before it, is how to meet that demand for energy in a way that’s kind to the planet, that considers the social impacts of our operations while at the same time satisfying the needs of our shareholders and the countries where we operate.
bp’s approach to ESG is embodied in our Sustainability Frame which outlines our climate aims for getting to net zero, as well as our goals for improving people’s lives and caring for the planet.
Our approach to sustainability is targeted, systematic and collaborative. It rests on strong, well-established foundations that guide the way we work and help us to focus our efforts on where we can make the greatest difference for people and our planet.
It is driving us to fundamentally change how we operate.
We are working to embed sustainability more widely and deeply in our culture, business decisions, processes and governance. This is an ever-evolving space, we by no means have this perfectly figured out and while we have work to do, the first win is that sustainability is central to our corporate strategy. We have publicly declared ambitious goals and every part of our operation must have concrete plans in place that are resourced to deliver these goals and we are measuring and reporting on our performance.
Globally we are making progress against our sustainability aims and locally I am very proud of the progress we are making in Trinidad and Tobago as well. We are reducing our operating emissions, investing in cleaner energy such as solar power, managing our social and environmental impacts differently and embedding sustainability into our culture at bpTT.
Later on in the conference, my colleagues discuss more about our approach as a company:
One presentation will discuss how we’re managing environmental and social concerns related to our pipeline replacement project in South East Trinidad. This is one of the first projects that we will be delivering in alignment with our new sustainability aims and we are excited about sharing what we’ve learnt.
We will also be sharing how we are considering ESG issues and building sustainability into our procurement practices.
On a personal level, I am excited about the conference because I believe it comes at an ideal time for Trinidad and Tobago. This country, with its established history in energy, creative industries, manufacturing and services like trade and finance, stands ready to embrace ESG.
From my experience in the energy sector, in other roles in business, as well as a director of AMCHAM, I am aware of the momentum that is gathering as organisations focus on ESG issues. And as practioner in this space for the past 17 years, it is gratifying to see the “coming of age” of ESG – where it is no longer misunderstood to be philanthropy.
I see various sectors represented here this morning and this is truly encouraging.
Finally, although I am excited about the conference, the real value in events such as these is not only in discussion and sharing best practices but in translating that into action so that collectively we can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.
But, small steps are the key.
Let’s focus first on finding common ground and establishing a strong frame to move forward.
Congratulations again to AMCHAM for organizing the conference, bp is proud to partner with you in taking this agenda forward in Trinidad and Tobago and I looking forward to the next two days.