Governments, non-profit organisations, the public, and corporations alike are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that human activities have a profound effect on the environment in which we live. Keeping the world in balance means making sustainability a primary concern. This obligation is especially relevant to the business world, as companies both large and small have a role to play in putting us back on course for a healthy future.
Fortunately, there are many reasons to be hopeful on this front. An increasing number of businesses are abandoning the wasteful models of the past and embracing the circular economy – a sustainable model that aims to minimise and eliminate waste wherever possible, while taking care to protect the planet’s natural resources and use them in a responsible manner.
In the past, economic growth and environmental protection were often seen as being in a zero-sum contest. However, the truth of the matter is that economic prosperity and sustainability are not at all in competition with each other. Quite the opposite – they are inexorably linked.
Moreover, companies’ reputations increasingly depend on embracing sustainable business practices. Stakeholders, investors, and average citizens alike expect the businesses with which they interact to be socially, economically, and environmentally responsible.
At Grant Thornton, we aim to not only raise awareness of the principles of corporate sustainability, but to live them as well. In September 2019, Grant Thornton in Thailand and Grant Thornton in Singapore got together and discussed how we as an organisation could move forward with this project. Our goals were to interact better with the communities in which we operate, contribute to society in a meaningful manner, and set an example for other corporations to follow on a continuous basis. Of course, we did much more than just talk.
A mission to plant mangroves
On the morning of September 20th, 2019, teams from Grant Thornton in Thailand and Grant Thornton in Singapore travelled to Mangrove Forest Resource Development Station 6 in Phetchaburi. Equipped with rubber boots, sun hats, gloves, and team spirit, we planted 10,000 mangrove seedlings by day’s end.
Mangroves are vital to the health of coastal environments. These fertile ecosystems protect the coastline from erosion, produce a tremendous amount of oxygen, and provide a habitat for countless marine animals.
By conservative estimates, mangrove forests also provide US$186 million worth of value to the global economy every year.
An enormous variety of fish, mollusc, crab, and shrimp species make mangrove forests their home, keeping ecosystems active while also providing an essential food source for coastal communities worldwide.
The insect and rot resistant mangrove timber serves as valuable building material for indigenous communities that live near the forests. The forests are also harvested to make wood chips, pulp, and charcoal. Mangrove harvesting can indeed be done sustainably, but it is critical that the forest be replanted at a rate that allows the ecosystem to preserve itself.
Mangrove forests also offer opportunities for eco-tourism, as visitors can observe a magnificent variety of marine animals in their natural habitats. Of course, the potential for revenue generation here can only exist if the mangrove forests remain healthy and the ecosystem is minimally affected by visiting tourists.
By planting 10,000 mangroves in Phetchaburi, Grant Thornton has contributed to the health of this important ecosystem and the prosperity of the communities who rely on its valuable resources.
Sustainability in 2020 and beyond
As an organisation, Grant Thornton is fully committed to making a positive impact for our investors, our stakeholders, our employees, the public, and the environment. Through activities such as the recent mangrove planting expedition, and many others to come, we’re doing our part to help keep the Earth green for a long time to come.