October 27, 2020 – Recently Mr Noppadol Dej-Udom, Chief Sustainability Officer of Charoen Pokphand Group Co., Ltd., joined the online panel discussion titled “A New Development Agenda: Leapfrogging Out of the Pandemic Economy”, organized by the World Economic Forum as part of the Jobs Reset Summit 2020, presenting experience of C.P. Group in handling the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as providing insights into post-crisis global economic development strategy.
In addition to Mr Noppadol, who represented a multinational business that operates across the globe, the diverse panel of leaders from multiple sectors included Debora Revoltella, Director of the Economics Department of the European Investment Bank, Fatoumata Ba, Founder and Managing Director of Janngo Capital, and Alfred Hannig, Executive Director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). The discussion was moderated by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development at the University of Oxford.
The panelists discussed about the global challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030, and the need to “leapfrog” out of the present economic crisis caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Noppadol presented C.P. Group’s experience in working closely with the government and civil society sectors to mitigate the impact of the healthcare crisis, in line with the Group’s “Three-Benefit Principle” which include the consideration of benefits to the nations, the communities, and finally the business returns. For example, the Group announced a global policy not to lay off any employee during the Covid-19 crisis, and opened up additional 28,000 positions in various subsidiaries in Thailand. The Group provided food assistance to people under quarantine and medical staff, as well as built a surgical mask factory to supply healthcare workers. He also responded to questions about the private sector’s role in economic development in developing countries, stressing the needs for multi-sector collaborations in investing for the future.
“The United Nations estimated that we need to invest about 3.3 to 4.5 trillion US dollars per year to achieve the SDGs by 2030. To handle such large investment, I think it is vital that all sectors come together to share resources as well as to share the risks,” said Mr Noppadol. He added “businesses also need to evolve with the growing complexity of the development challenges. In the past, development work implemented by private sector alone, or in public-private partnership arrangement, often look at individual projects and initiatives to address particular needs. This kind of focused projects will still be needed, but the new realities also require a more comprehensive approach, such as development of an ecosystem or enabling mechanisms.”
Other distinguished panelists provided strategies for post-Covid economic development. Ms Revoltella of the European Investment Bank, highlighted Europe’s focus on impact investing for environmental sustainability and transformation of the job market to match the changing demographic character of Europe’s population. Ms Ba from Janngo Capital pointed out that Africa has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic economically, losing $60 billion a month since its outbreak and suffering massive job loss. “E-commerce could create a net 3 million jobs in Africa by 2025” she said, adding that a lot of investment is needed to unlock the potential of online economy and enhance women’s participation in driving local economic growth. Mr Hannig from Alliance for Financial Inclusion argued that microfinance can go a long way when it comes to women, especially, in the Global South – and that mobile money accounts can vastly facilitate both access to and servicing of microlending.
C.P. Group Chief Sustainability Officer referred to the role of the business sector during the World Wars, in which virtually all companies and factories were involved in producing war materials. In comparison, the current Covid-19 pandemic is a common enemy that requires collective effort of all parties to combat. Similarly, other global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity losses, international and social conflicts, also pose existential threat to humanity. Professor Goldin concurred with Mr Noppadol’s comparison and expressed hope that the world will learn useful lessons from the current pandemic, as it did from the Second World War, which led to the establishment of multinational frameworks that seek to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts and enhanced multilateral collaborations.