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Zobel named UN sustainability champion

/ 11:07 AM September 14, 2017

AYALA CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

A United Nations-backed sustainability coalition has named Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chair and chief executive officer of storied conglomerate Ayala Corp., as a corporate champion of UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Zobel was handpicked by the UN Global Compact as one of the 10 “United Nations SDG Pioneers” for 2017, the first from the Philippines to receive this distinction.

Each year, the UN Global Compact celebrates a group of SDG Pioneers – leaders doing an exceptional job of taking action to advance the UN-initiated 17 sustainable development goals or SDGs. Hundreds of nominations were received from diverse regions of the world, from which 10 finalists were selected, exemplifying how business can be a force for good in addressing the challenges we face as a global society.


Zobel and other SDG Pioneers will be recognized during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017 this Sept. 21 in New York.

“Each of the 2017 SDG Pioneers is exhibiting how companies and pioneering individuals can be a force for positive change in addressing the issues we all face today,” said Lise Kingo, UN Global Compact CEO and Executive Director.

“Mr. Zobel has been impactful in reaching a wider segment of the business market through innovation and diversification. He has been a pioneer in the inclusion of long-term sustainability in business strategy and operations.”

Under Zobel’s leadership, Ayala has embraced shared value creation, to better integrate the developmental challenges that society faces into Ayala’s strategies and core business models.

Apart from reinventing its business models to meet the needs of a wider segment of the population, Zobel is also credited for leading Ayala’s foray into sectors critical to national development and inclusive progress: power, infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

Sustainability has been integrated into various Ayala businesses. Under Zobel’s leadership, Ayala shifted to the integrated reporting framework, which captures in detail the group’s positive impact on society through its contribution to the SDGs. The 183-year-old conglomerate is the first company in the Philippines to produce such as an integrated report.

Furthermore, Ayala is moving to include long-term sustainability targets for its businesses, which will form part of the companies’ and management’s key result areas.

A Pioneers selection group, comprised of experts from the UN, academia, civil society and the private sector, ranked this year’s nominees based on a set of criteria, resulting in the 10 2017 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers.


“I believe that now, more than ever, a deeper engagement with society is indispensable to the survival and success of private enterprises. From both a practical and moral standpoint, businesses cannot thrive in an environment rife with economic inequity,” Zobel said in a press statement on Thursday. “Ignoring these issues threatens our ability to create long-term value and jeopardizes the sustainability of the enterprise and markets.”

The world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact calls on companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals. In the Philippines, over 20 companies and non-business organization have joined the initiative, and the Global Compact Network Philippines has supported their efforts to advance sustainable business practices since 2016.

The UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017 is a two-day gathering of the private sector, UN, government and civil society to jump-start action to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Together, over 800 leaders from around the world are gathered in New York to identify how to unleash the business activities, thinking and innovation required for a new era of sustainability.

Zobel is a member of various business and socio-civic organizations, including the JP Morgan International Council and Mitsubishi Corp. International Advisory Council. He chairs the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board and the SMU Advisory Council in the Philippines. He also works with the Harvard Global Advisory Council, the University of Tokyo Global Advisory Board and the Endeavor Philippines board of trustees. He represented the Philippines on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council from 2010 to 2015.

Zobel has received multiple recognitions for his public service and support of economic development in the Philippines, including the Presidential Medal of Merit, the Philippine Legion of Honor and the Order of Mabini.

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TAGS: Jaime Zobel de Ayala, JAZA, United Nations SDG Pioneer
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