#SRI — 19.07.2019

Sustainable Growth: New opportunities for Next Generation entrepreneurs

In Conversation with Craig Leeson, Global Sustainability Ambassador, BNP Paribas


Q1 Sustainable Growth: How much awareness is there among the next generation of entrepreneurs?

When I talk to NextGens in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region I find that there is far more understanding of the problems that are confronting them, particularly going into the future, than the previous generation.

Because as we've depleted resources on the planet and particularly in the Asia region, then this becomes a problem that they have to solve.

How do we go forward with the resources we have? How do we sustain those resources? How do we protect and preserve the environment, so that the life support systems we need to survive as a species are maintained going forward, so that we can all enjoy the resources that are available to us?

So. I think they're incredibly aware of the problems. And of course it's now up to them to solve many of the problems that the previous generation has created.

Q2: CHANGES: What challenges will Next Generation Entrepreneurs face with in the next two decades in Asia?

I believe that the problems that they are now confronted with, specifically in Asia, are very unique to NextGeners in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region because of the different culture, the different socio-economic parameters that NextGeners in the APAC region have to deal with.

There are still global problems. We've got climate change. And as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, then the sorts of challenges they have are where do we look for opportunity, and opportunity of course comes with entrepreneurship, with finding solutions, with finding new businesses, developing new technology, and these are areas of opportunity.

Many people are negative about the future, thinking that climate change and single-use plastics and these sorts of issues they're confronted with, are creating insurmountable problems.

So I firmly believe that this is a time of opportunity and I think NextGeners have the tools to do that. They have the family support, they have the financial support, and many of them have very good education to go forward, to implement a lot of change that we need to help solve these problems.

Q3: Opportunities: Where can entrepreneurs find untapped areas in the sustainability field?

I think the advice that I would give is find areas that are as yet untapped or haven't really been developed very well. And we're seeing areas develop that still need entrepreneurship, still need technology in the renewable energy industry.

Finding solutions for single-use plastics for example, alternatives are being discussed. Governments are now being forced into a situation where they have to look at solid waste management, for example, with that particular issue.

They have to look at alternatives as they move to legislate to ban or limit single-use plastics in the arena that have previously been favoured in.

So in terms of looking at opportunity it's important I think that they identify the skill set they have and what they can bring to the table and then focus that skill set, that opportunity.

And that could be through entrepreneurship ability, through financial ability, through contacts or through social reach, and channel that energy into a particular area and then go for it.

Q4: What’s next for you as an entrepreneur and a Sustainability Ambassador?

I'm extraordinarily excited about the future, because I see opportunity, and as an entrepreneur I'm always looking for where I can take my skill set and use that skill set not only to benefit my business but also to benefit the society that I'm working with.

And that's where I see filmmaking having a big part of the commitment that I can make to society because as a storyteller.

I can bring many of these issues to society and bring them forward for discussion and help drive change and help drive solutions to many of the problems that we now face.

So for me particularly right now, as the new Global Sustainability Ambassador for BNP, then that's providing me with an opportunity to reach out to many different people that I didn't have access to before, to NextGeners, to people in the financial industry, people who I think have the ability to come on board and to help and be part of the solution for the future.

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