Skip links

Social Transition in the ESG Era

          Amid the global spotlight on carbon emission reduction and the increasing significance of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) management, experts gathered at the Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) in Seoul, Korea stressed the need for Korea to set achievable goals in addressing the urgent challenges of carbon emissions and global warming. They emphasized that Korea, with its energy-intensive industries, must establish realistic objectives to tackle these pressing issues. The conference included discussions on ‘Social Transition in the ESG Era: Towards Low Carbon Emission’ and ‘Purpose & Profit: How ESG-driven Business Can Uplift the World,’ featuring insights from three experts in each session.

          Jeffrey Lamb, Director of Climate Finance of the Republic of Kiribati, underscored the severity of climate change by stating, “In the event of rising sea levels due to global warming, Kiribati, being an island nation, could be among the first to face submersion.” John Kim, co-founder and managing partner of Amasia, cautioned against a diminished focus on long-term issues such as carbon emissions and global warming, particularly in the face of immediate challenges like pandemics or wars. He stressed the importance of recognizing that global warming can intensify diseases or conflicts by adversely affecting the natural environment and food production.

          Kim Sung Woo, Head of Environment & Energy Research Institute at Kim & Chang, noted, “The competition related to technology development and investment for carbon emission reduction is already underway. Korean companies seeking guidance from me are eager to identify specific investment opportunities and are hopeful for clear signals from both the market and the government.” Philipp Essl, Managing Director & Head of Impact of Big Society Capital, pointed out that sustainable business models financially contributing to societal issues are primarily emerging among venture companies, while the ESG efforts of larger corporations still fall short.

          Suggestions were put forth, emphasizing the crucial roles that both companies and governments should play. Yves Daccord, Director of Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, highlighted the issue of global division resulting from mistrust between nations or regions, emphasizing the necessity for a collective global response to climate change. Lee Han Sang, Professor at Korea University Business School, advised against exclusively focusing on renewable energy without considering sustainability, stating, “Emphasizing the environment, without considering sustainability, one should not solely focus on renewable energy. The government should formulate realistic plans by incorporating the opinions of experts from various fields, rather than relying solely on certain environmental organizations.”

          Industry experts at the Asian Leadership Conference emphasized the critical need fto establish realistic and attainable goals in addressing carbon emissions and global warming, acknowledging the unique challenges posed by its energy-intensive industries. The discussions underscored the urgency of maintaining focus on long-term environmental issues amidst immediate challenges. The imperative for both companies and governments to play pivotal roles in advancing sustainable practices and fostering a collective global response to climate change emerged as a central theme, highlighting the importance of holistic strategies and cooperation in navigating the complex landscape of ESG management and carbon reduction.

Learn more about the Center for Asia Leadership’s programmes in strategic foresight and adaptive leadership here at

What is your response to the rapid pace of change around us? The best response is to learn and adapt. Here is how we can help your organization adapt to ongoing disruptions and thrive amid challenging times through our Adaptive Leadership Signature Program that addresses the past culture, while building the teams’ capacity to create a new future.