Speaker: businesses are waking up to their global responsibility
Businesses worldwide have realised that they have a responsibility to address environmental, social and governance issues, an international expert said yesterday.
Richard Threlfall is head of infrastructure at professional services firm KPMG and global head of KPMG Impact.
He is to be the keynote speaker at tomorrow’s virtual annual general meeting of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Threlfall said: “The world is facing four big challenges – population growth, urbanisation, poverty, and climate change. None of those challenges is new – their origins go back 200 years and more to the time of the Industrial Revolution.
“But today, we have the extraordinary position of facing, in part due to the certainty of climate change, an existential threat to the future of civilisation, of humanity on the planet.
“This is the first generation to really appreciate the enormity of the problem, and possibly the last generation in a position to do anything about it.”
Regarding ESG issues, Mr Threlfall said: “There has been rising awareness, and a resolve to change, over the last few years from among the general public, from Extinction Rebellion, due to Covid-19, and from Black Lives Matter.”
He added: “There is rising awareness from businesses all over the world around the whole gamut of ‘what makes life livable’.
“First and foremost, there has been a realisation around climate change, but also awareness of the risks from biodiversity loss, the risks from rising social inequality, and the risks from a sense of prejudice and unfairness.
“We have seen businesses wake up and feel they have a responsibility, and it’s not something that is to be left to governments.”
Mr Threlfall said those issues are no longer being delegated.
He added: “They are embedded in boardroom discussions. Over the last 12 months, they have risen to be a top boardroom issue for both the world’s biggest companies, and the world’s smallest companies.
“On Thursday, I’ll discuss what is happening globally, and we can have a conversation about what that means to businesses in Bermuda, both domestic and international businesses headquartered in Bermuda.”
Mr Threlfall added: “I hope there will also be representatives of government present so that we can discuss the opportunities for Bermuda as a country.”