WOU is collaborating with the ESG Association of Malaysia (ESGAM) to raise awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues among its students and community.
The partnership was formalised with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between both the parties at the WOU main campus on 20 September 2023.
WOU Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Lily Chan, in welcoming the strategic alliance, stated, “This partnership reflects our commitment to addressing the growing demand for professionals in ESG and sustainability.”
She explained, “Applying and imbibing ESG pillars in one’s organisation leads to sustainability. Companies that prioritise environmental responsibility, social accountability, and practise good corporate governance are more likely to achieve sustainability. All of these efforts will contribute to a healthier society and environment for the present and future generations.”
She emphasised the importance of ESG implementation in businesses, especially educational institutions, because it not only promotes sustainability, but also “drives positive social change.” She further added, “Through ESG, we are cultivating trust within the community while we enhance our reputation as a provider of quality higher education, and demonstrate our trustworthiness.”
In light of recent greenwashing concerns, she stressed, “ESG should not be a superficial makeover for fundraising or branding, solely aimed at creating an appealing facade. Instead, it should represent a steadfast commitment by companies such as WOU, to do what is right, regardless of external pressure.”
She cited initiatives at the University that demonstrate ESG integration into its day-to-day operations. “We have implemented energy-conservation measures and reduced the fundamental usage of paper through e-learning textbooks, e-convocation booklets, e-student orientation handbooks and other digital alternatives, where possible,” she said.
She continued, “At WOU, we uphold accountability and zero tolerance to corruption or any unethical dealings. Our aim is for staff to comply with the highest ethical standards when handling matters both inside and outside the University.”
“ESG’s increasing influence is today, driving the “sustainability and profitability of businesses” as governments and the people demand the integration and disclosure of ESG elements,” Prof Chan went on to say.
Under the MoU, the two organisations will work together to conduct research on ESG’s best practices, hold seminars and other events to educate the public on sustainable practices in business and everyday life.
WOU will begin to incorporate ESG principles into the MPU courses such as Decision-Making Skills, and other foundation courses. It will also collaborate with ESGAM to create a professional, bachelor’s or master’s degree programme in ESG, tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals looking to transition into ESG and sustainability roles.
The signing of the agreement by Prof Chan and ESGAM president Adjunct Practice Prof Cheah Kok Hoong was witnessed by Assoc Prof Dr Gary Tan Peng Liang, Executive Dean of WOU’s School of Business & Administration (SBA), and ESGAM secretary-general Adjunct Prof Rina Neoh.
Prof Cheah, in lauding the collaboration, said, “We believe this partnership with WOU is a significant step in the right direction. Together, we hope to empower SMEs and working adults to embrace sustainability, driving positive change and creating a more sustainable future for all.”