APRU SWM Forum 2023: Advancing UN SDGs and ESG for a Sustainable Future
December 29, 2023
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The APRU SWM Forum 2023 was a significant event dedicated to exploring emerging sustainability-related issues, convening experts and enthusiasts. Held annually, this year’s forum revolved around the theme “Advancing UN SDGs and ESG for a Sustainable Future.” Hosted by the APRU Sustainable Waste Management (SWM) Program in collaboration with the International ESG Association (IESGA) and Korea University ESG Research Institute, the event was led by Prof. Yong Sik Ok, Chair and Program Director of the APRU SWM Program.

Esteemed speakers, including Mr. Jamil Ahmad (Director of Intergovernmental Affairs UNEP New York), Prof. Chan-woo Kim (Former Ambassador for Climate Change and Government Representative from Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Dr. Monica Contestabile (Chief Editor of Nature Sustainability) offered their expertise and insights on UN SDGs and sustainability research.

Prof. Yong Sik Ok, in his opening address, underscored the interconnectedness between ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), UN SDGs, and sustainability, guiding the proceedings of the forum. Prof. Rhee initiated an important query, reflecting the impact of collaborative research along with its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, Prof. Kim underscored the collective responsibility to work together towards achieving UN SDGs, emphasizing that every individual plays a role in this global initiative.

“UN SDGs serve as the blueprint for sustainability, which should remain consistent irrespective of geographical distinctions, as they are universally applicable,” said Mr. Ahmad.

Mr. Jamil Ahmad, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs UNEP New York

Dr. Contestabile highlighted the interconnectedness of numerous global sustainability issues, underscoring the necessity for multifaceted perspectives to formulate long-term solutions. She stressed the importance of collaborative research to address these complexities effectively. Furthermore, Dr. Contestabile emphasized the significance of framing research questions that hold substantial meaning for policymakers. Only when sustainability research aligns with policymaking can it effectively influence new policy developments toward a more sustainable and greener future.

Following the keynote speeches at the APRU SWM Forum, IESGA Director Yoora Cho presented the analysis results of recent research conducted by IESGA. The study focused on evaluating nature-positive commitments in biodiversity performances of Korean corporations. Based on these commitments regarding biodiversity, the TOP 200 corporations were ranked accordingly. In addition, ongoing research initiatives by IESGA concentrating on ESG and sustainability were highlighted during the event. These studies encompassed diverse areas such as ESG evaluations specifically tailored for higher education institutions and the comprehensive assessment of nature-related issues prevalent among energy sector companies listed in the Fortune Global 500. These ongoing research endeavors showcased a multifaceted approach toward examining and addressing sustainability concerns across various sectors and institutions.

During the Q&A session, participants engaged closely with the Chief Editor and the UNEP Director, seeking clarification on pressing sustainability and research-related issues. Comprehensive discussions ensued regarding the correct approach to conducting interdisciplinary research, acknowledged as highly challenging, and strategies to persuade policymakers through research findings to adopt or update policies. Additionally, a key message emphasized was the necessity for more impactful sustainability research to achieve the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The focal point highlighted the indispensable requirement for collaboration between local institutions, government authorities, ministries, local administrations, and decision-makers to effectively advance sustainability initiatives.

The APRU SWM Program, under the leadership of Prof. Yong Sik Ok, played a pivotal role in advancing the pursuit of the 2030 agenda on sustainable development and ESG.

As the APRU SWM Forum 2023 drew to a close, it culminated in an extensive exchange of invaluable knowledge, emphasizing the urgent need for collaborative efforts aimed at fostering a more sustainable future. The discussions and insights shared throughout the forum not only underscored the significance of collective action but also highlighted the diverse strategies and innovative approaches essential for addressing multifaceted sustainability challenges. The event showed us ways to reach the ambitious goals outlined in the 2030 agenda, emphasizing the crucial role of collaborative initiatives in reshaping our global trajectory towards sustainability.

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