Sustainability Dialogue 2022

An inside look at the numbers and strategies behind the successful sustainability initiatives entered into Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards.

JOIN THE sustainability DIALOGUE

For the first time in Bangladesh, the national Sustainability Dialogues in 2021 brought together 50+ corporates, non-profits, media and government institutions from all 8 divisions of the country to discuss the current problems and future of CSR in Bangladesh.

Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh

"Most of the slums don't have easy access to water.  Therefore, it is important to do more research on how to introduce farming in land-locked urban areas. Government needs to allocate khas land to poor farmers. "

Humayun Kabir, EVP and Head of the Regulatory & Corporate Affairs Department, bKash

"Urban farming initiatives will help achieve food security. It will also help families to be self-reliant through selling their produces."

Sumaiya Tabassum Ahmed, Sustainability, Partnership and Communications Manager, Unilever Bangladesh

"All of our company's plastic packaging would be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. We are also working on creating awareness about the harmful effects of using plastic. And we suggest that corporates and social organizations should work in collaboration to take social development projects forward. " 

Faiaz H. Chowdhury, Chief Business Officer, Energypac Power Generation Limited

"In 2017 we ran project in Dacope, Khulna to ensure clean water and sanitation facilities for the local community. Now, we are planning to expand the project further in Khulna.  "

Sazzad Hossain, Head of Leaf Operations, BAT Bangladesh

"BAT Bangladesh has been running the largest private sector-driven afforestation programme in Bangladesh since 1980. Over the past 42 years, we have distributed 120 million trees, including 5 million free saplings in 2022. We want to support the government to achieve SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)"

Rashed Khan Menon, Member of Parliament from Dhaka-8

"We must ensure water supply in slums. Since the government has a resolution of leaving no land unused, the khas lands surrounding Dhaka city can be allotted among the local community."

Pir Fazlur Rahman Misbah, Member of Parliament from Sunamganj-4

"We need to highlight the importance of developing a comprehensive tourism system that will promote tourism without harming the biodiversity of the Tanguar Haor. CSR initiatives are needed to provide training to the local people and invest in the development of fish and agricultural resources in the area."

Md. Kois Ahmed, Executive Director of Society for Sylhet Resource Advancement Community

"CSR initiative works in partnership with the government will upscale skill development programs across the country, and, thus, help reduce the unemployment rate. Special training programs should be designed for persons with disabilities"

Afser Nurul, Head of Corporate Brand, PRAN-RFL Group

"Reducing overcrowding in tourist spots and making tourists aware of sustainable tourism which minimizes the negative impacts of tourism on the environment"

Md. Saifullah Al Azad, Deputy Manager of CSR initiatives, Olympic Industries Ltd

Praising Natasha's project he said "this is a sustainable initiative. This will not only help people who are suffering from mental disorders but also potential investors who want to connect with them."

Mehenaz Zaman, Project Coordinator of Shushasther Odhikar Shobar at Footsteps Bangladesh

"In rural areas, people don't have proper access to medical care. Poor roads pose serious risks for critical patients,"

Tanzina Tarique, Manager-Corporate Communications and CSV at Nestlé

Praising Mehenaz's project, she said that they would be happy to support these types of projects since Nestlé is a nutrition, health and wellness company. "Nestlé believes in Creating Shared Value (CSV). We have Nestlé Needs YOUth platform in our company through which we support young entrepreneurs," she added.  

Ahmed Raihan Ahsanullah, Senior Manager- Sustainability Affairs at British American Tobacco (BAT)

"BAT Bangladesh has been running the largest private sector-driven afforestation programme i.e., 'Bonayan' in Bangladesh since 1980. Over the past 42 years, we have distributed 120 million trees, including 5 million free saplings in 2022. We want to support the government to achieve SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)," he added. He also hailed the initiative and talked about prospects for collaboration though BAT's corporate venture arm Btomorrow ventures.

Professor Shah Sajeda, Editor of the Barishal-based daily Dainik Shahnama

"Young rural entrepreneurs should be provided training and financial support through CSR projects. Corporate organizations should also work for the revival of traditional crafts, and provide support to rural small enterprises."

Ankit Sureka, Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability at Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd.

"In collaboration with UCEP, we are providing free internet to 5,000 underprivileged children. We are emphasizing the importance of promoting digital literacy and are eager to support such projects."

Mohammed Tariqul Islam, Chief HR & Corporate Communication Officer at Confidence Group

"Earlier it was difficult to find good projects to support through CSR. But the scenario has changed now. A large number of innovative and sustainable initiatives are now coming up,"

Md Shah-e Alam, Member of Parliament, Barishal-2

"CSR initiatives mainly focus on urban areas. I urge corporate organizations to work at the grassroots level in partnership with the government. The government should also provide support to these organizations to carry forward their CSR initiatives"

Swapan Guha, Executive Director of Rupantar

"CSR projects can play a big role in providing support to innovative educational projects. I would like to highlight the impacts of climate change on education in Khulna area and request corporate organizations to come forward to help the affected educational institutions."

AHM Hasinul Quddus (Rusho), Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Daraz

"Organisations should work for the betterment of society. Societal development will lead the growth," He talked about their new initiative 'donation card'. "Daraz will feature various social initiatives on its site and interested persons will be able to donate funds to their preferred projects. The donors will also get regular updates on the impacts of their contribution. Daraz is also going to plant trees in 8 schools to celebrate its 8th anniversary."

Sheikh Shabab Ahmed, Head of External Affairs of BAT Bangladesh

"We should start by focusing on schools to promote leadership among young people. And need to highlight the importance of ensuring the sustainability of CSR interventions. Depth of activity is more important than the width of activity. Instead of doing many projects, we should focus on impactful projects that will contribute significantly to society.

Nahim Razzaq, a Member of the Bangladesh Parliament

"We need to encourage local corporate houses to undertake CSR initiatives. There should also be an evaluation and monitoring system to ensure compliance in this regard,". He urged corporate companies to partner with youth initiatives through CSR projects and help them evolve into sustainable organizations. He also suggested establishing a structural incubation system to provide long-term support to new initiatives.

Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, Honourable Deputy Minister of Education

"Institutionalization of CSR is a recent concept, and successful corporations have been adopting this idea as part of their commitment to society. However, there are certain obstacles for corporate organizations that need to be resolved to increase investment in CSR. Institutionalization of CSR would be difficult if issues like tax exemption are not addressed in our regulatory framework." 

Prantick Chowdhury, Trustee of Shunte Ki Pao (SKP)

"Himadri Center, an initiative by SKP, will provide education to children and develop youths' skills. They are also planning to set up a library where books in both Bangla and mother language of indigenous people will be available. SKP will also provide telemedicine services to local people."

Aftabur Rahman Jafree, CEO of Ghashful

"We received support from both individual and institutional donors, including the government, to run our projects. For example, we have been working with British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh on a tree plantation project for more than 11 years. Corporates have specific criteria for CSR investment, and building a database compiling these criteria will be helpful for new entrepreneurs"

Khandker Nagib Anwar, Head of Digital Communications & Digital Assets, IDLC Finance Limited

"Young entrepreneurs should have a clear business plan so that corporate organizations can easily understand what kind of support they need to provide to these new initiatives. We focus on the sustainability of a project and how much impact it will have on society," 

Ashiqul Haque, Divisional Leaf Manager, BAT Bangladesh

"BAT Bangladesh has been running its afforestation programme since 1980. In 2022 alone, we distributed 5 million free saplings. We have planted 3 million saplings in 6 districts of Chittagong Division. We have also planted 2 lacs saplings in Kutopalong Rohingya Camp. We have been supporting the government to achieve SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)," 

Mohammed Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive of Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)

"We have to consider sustainability and financial profitability as we aim to promote creative, unique, and new ideas in Bangladesh through CSR. However, we have to know why and for what purpose an entrepreneur has taken the initiative"

K M Ali Samrat, Executive Director of Participatory Advancement Social Service (PASS)

"CSR initiatives should invest more in tree plantation projects. We identified two open areas in Rangpur – Nasnia Bill and Chikli Bill – where large-scale plantation projects can be undertaken. There are also remote areas in the Rangpur division where children lack proper access to education. We request CSR initiatives to work in those areas."

S M Nazmul Ahsan, AGM of  CSR at Epyllion Group

"'Noyon Tori' is an eyecare project by us under which a vehicle equipped with state-of-the-art eye care services roams rural areas and provides free eye treatment to poor people. They also provide free prescription eyeglasses to patients. We also have Epyllion Group's Kheya Academy which provides education and skill development training to young people."

Velayat Ali Ahsan, Divisional Leaf Manager of BAT Bangladesh

"We have several CSR initiatives of BAT Bangladesh including Afforestation, Renewable Energy Project and Skill Development Training for Rural Women." 

Alhajj Mostafizur Rahman Mostafa, Honorable Mayor of Rangpur City Corporation

"Telemedicine services like 'Sneho Mobile Health" need to be taken to a large number of people through adequate financial support and campaign. CSR initiatives are needed to be invested in education, health and tree plantation projects in the Rangpur City Corporation area."

Ranjan Das, Executive Director of Desh

"Desh has been running five schools where more than 1,000 children with disabilities are studying now. We are also operating 40 clubs in association with Unicef to train young girls in lifesaving techniques. I suggest that CSR initiatives should contribute to the development of persons with disabilities, particularly those who live in the hard-to-reach areas in Mymensingh."  

Farah Sharmeen Aolad, Country Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Lead of Coca-Cola Bangladesh
 
"We have taken initiatives to save water and harvest rainwater in their factories. Coca-Cola Bangladesh is also working on a WASH project through which they provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged local communities."
 
Md Fahmid- Ul Islam, Human Resources Manager at Apex Footwear Ltd
 
"Last year, we undertook an initiative to promote self-check for breast cancer. We have already distributed 2600 fruit plants with Green Savers to 260 families this year."
 
Rumana Ahmed, Head of Corporate Affairs at Citibank N.A. Bangladesh
 
"The Citi Foundation has been providing financial support to UCEP to train people with disabilities and young women to be entrepreneurs. We are also supporting students at BRAC University for their career development."
 
Ekramul Haque, Mymensingh City Corporation Mayor
 
"Corporate efforts are necessary to ensure the overall development of the country since the government can't achieve it alone. In the context of Mymensingh, they can contribute to education, skill development training, waste management and prevention of river pollution. Corporate organisations should design their CSR projects with a long-term vision" 

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