PHOTO CREDIT: Carissa Villacorta Instagram

Global Filipino leader Janice Lao has received the Edie’s Sustainability Leader of the Year – considered the Oscars for Global sustainability – the first Filipino and Asian to win the prestigious award.

Lao, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability for The Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels, was awarded in London on February 6 along with other big winners from Ikea, Landsec, Heathrow Airport and PepsiCo.

Lao, who has mentored fellow Filipinos at the PH Time Is Now conferences in 2018, has pioneered many sustainability initiatives that has also earned her the Forbes nod as one of the top global sustainability leaders.

In the 2019 Edie awards, the Filipino leader was cited for her exemplary leadership on sustainable business, showing her “ability to generate ground-breaking efforts on new issues

in new contexts, driving progress on innovative financial instruments and initiatives.”

Edit notes that Lao’s work has been followed by different industries in seafood,

plastics and carbon trading, and in the luxury sector not traditionally focused on sustainability.

Specifically, Janice Lao was credited with the following achievements:

  • led the implementation of a global approach to single-use plastics, one of the first in the world to do so in a comprehensive manner
  • led more cross-engagement between some of their biggest clients in the luxury sector, such as Kering and Richemont, to move the sector much more effectively as truly sustainable businesses.
  • working with some of the world’s foremost seafood and fisheries experts to develop a sustainable seafood tool that takes into consideration the challenges of an Asian setting – this is crucial given how much seafood is consumed in this part of the world and Janice is sharing this tool freely
  • started a working group looking at water stress issues in Southern China, one of the most water-stressed regions in the world. She has expanded its skills training programme to include not only minorities in the cities they operate in, but also, where possible, refugees.
  • maintained a high energy level even in the face of adversity. For example, when her previous company Cathay Pacific Airways instituted its sharkfin ban, this was a heatedly debated topic and lobbied issue, especially against high profile stakeholders along the supply chain. She championed a win-win outcome by gathering key stakeholders, including Cathay’s senior management, international NGOs such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s foremost shark experts and traders.
  • faced similar opposition when she lobbied for a fairer carbon trading solution and mathematical model for airlines. Through sheer tenacity, she managed to convince the Asian airlines to help build on her model; then the European airlines, Middle Eastern and finally the US airlines to agree. This is now the basis for the United Nation’s ICAO carbon offset scheme, the only one in the world.
  • Now at Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, she spent a year engaging with colleagues around the world, understanding how sustainability can support the business and make it more purposeful.

Janice Lao was selected from among hundreds of entries for the awards that recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business; from the best efficiency programmes through to product innovation, from stakeholder engagement and CSR initiatives to the people making it happen.

Janice Lao is the lone Filipino champion at the 2019 Sustainability Leaders Award given by Edie.

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