April 22 every year is observed as “Earth Day” in Korea. It was enacted by environmentalists at the private level to raise awareness of the environmental pollution on the Earth. Since 2009, Koreans have been reminded of the seriousness of climate change and the need for a low-carbon life. SF movies feature a lot of scenes about saving the Earth from alien invasions, but it rather saddens me that the reality is that we have to protect the Earth from humans who harm the climate.
Saving the Earth may be possible only if people around the world work together. It is not just up to any individual or environmentalist. Of note, the role of companies that have been emitting carbon in the process of acquiring profits by obtaining many resources from the Earth is important. Fortunately, ESG, a new corporate management paradigm, is spreading around the world recently. ESG stands for environment, social and governance.
"Environment (E)" focuses on responding to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, "Social (S) aims to achieve a fair and safe society by respecting human rights and resolving social polarization issues, and "G" focuses on law and ethics compliance and transparent and democratic corporate management. EGS emphases non-financial factors that affect a corporate sustainability in the long term rather than financial gain. It can be seen not only as saving the Earth from an environmental perspective but also as saving the Earth in a broad sense that allows people to lead a human-like life on the Earth.
ESG management started from an investor's perspective, reflecting non-financial issues in the valuation of corporations. As a result, the tendency to choose investments that can have a positive impact on society has been bolstered. This is gaining further momentum as a result of eco-friendly policies in major countries and mandatory disclosure of ESG information by companies. Recently, there is accelerating global consensus that companies can survive only when they embrace the environment, society and stakeholders amid the covid-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis.
ESG management is essential for K-water, which places top priority on realizing public values through "water.” Water resources management in response to climate change, green conversion through clean water energy such as water solar and water heating, realization of water welfare fair to all citizens, and issuance of green bonds are good examples of ESG management. K-water has already declared its management of the climate crisis toward RE100 in November last year, and is taking a significant step toward realization of a sustainable Korea by promising to implement ESG management in March this year.
We are seeking to fulfill our social responsibility through mutual growth and win-win cooperation by strengthening the foundation for eco-friendly businesses such as water environment recovery and carbon neutrality, and establishing a platform for innovative start-ups. K-water seeks fair business management through transparent decision-making system by communicating more actively with internal and external stakeholders. Our goal is to create a “future of water” that makes people happy by taking a leap of ESG 3.0, which is an internalization stage of ESG management.
Richard Bach's novel "The Richard Livingston Seagull” has the phrase "The sea gull who flies the highest sees the farthest." In order to save the only Earth, we need to pursue long-term vision, not immediate profit. The Korean government and the National Assembly also need to establish laws and systems that can allow ESG companies to receive preferential treatment. The public needs to pay more attention and support to ESG companies. We hope to open a new era in which the government, businesses and individuals join forces to help ESG management take root in our society.