With its current “Great Transformation” to become the Philippines’ first “techglomerate,” Aboitiz is redrawing its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) blueprint by placing people at the center of everything. This approach to “One New Aboitiz” is not a mere strategy; it is a holistic shift that harmonizes technology, business, and humanity. And never has this been more evident than in the work of its corporate citizenship arm, Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (AFI), which is celebrating 35 years of transforming lives for the better.
With its myriad of ESG initiatives spanning digitalization and inclusion, renewable energy, water and forest management, health and safety, climate action, and corporate social responsibility (CSR), Aboitiz Foundation has always been dedicated to sustainability. And the group’s recent focus on becoming a techglomerate amplifies the foundation’s commitment to this cause. By harnessing data science and artificial intelligence, it is not only seeking to solve problems faster and on a larger scale but also striving to shape a sustainable future for mankind.
After more than three decades of primarily building sustainable communities, the foundation now promises to change through three flagship pillars: Future Leaders, Enterprise and Jobs, and Climate Action. Future Leaders centers on STEM education for emerging scientists, engineers, data specialists, forward-thinking leaders and entrepreneurs—people adept at addressing urgent challenges, something the Philippines urgently needs. Enterprise and Jobs aims to reduce the digital divide for MSMEs and cooperative advancement, promoting wealth creation, future-oriented upskilling, and employment. Finally, Climate Action concentrates on co-creating climate-resilient ecosystems through nature-based solutions, encompassing carbon and waste management, adaptation, mitigation, biodiversity oversight and habitat conservation.
Aligning with Global Goals
AFI’s ESG ambitions align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But what sets it apart is its commitment to addressing these objectives not in isolation, but as an ecosystem of interconnected goals. This synergetic approach combines environmental preservation, social impact, and sound governance to benefit people and communities above all.
Consider the case of biodiversity management, a responsibility in the “E” of ESG. By plugging community involvement into the equation, AFI ensures that the beneficial ripples of ecological preservation reach the communities surrounding these protected areas. This person-centric perspective, coupled with technological advancements, is emblematic of the group’s promise to advance business and communities.
President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz never fails to remind team members that sustainability is always and ultimately about people. From generating employment opportunities and nurturing entrepreneurial growth to bolstering education, the endeavors of the Aboitiz Foundation over the last 35 years mirror this belief. And the foundation’s future collaboration with global partners, such as integrating solutions like plastic waste management technologies, hopes to further underscore this commitment to humanity.
Furthermore, according to Aboitiz, ESG is not a responsibility that should rest solely on corporate shoulders. Individuals play a crucial role in driving sustainable change as much as benefiting from it. “Every choice we make, whether as consumers, investors, or as members of society, has the potential to impact our environment, communities and governance structures,” says Aboitiz. “By understanding and acting upon this, we can pick up the pace of sustainable transformation.”
Putting People First
But what truly sets the foundation apart from many other sustainability programs is its sharp focus on empathy. It seeks to understand the experiences and pain points of its stakeholders, be they employees, shareholders, communities, or beneficiaries of their ESG initiatives. By putting itself in the shoes of those it serves, the foundation uncovers effective and expedient solutions to pressing issues. This is what they call a “techglomerate in action,” which refers to a conglomerate that leverages technology to improve society.
“It isn’t just about mitigating climate change,” says Aboitiz. “As a techglomerate, we are trying to reshape our past understanding of ESG by putting a unique emphasis on the “S.” The foundation’s belief is clear: people are the heart and soul of all its endeavors, making Aboitiz’s Great Transformation (GT) a cultural revolution for corporations in the Philippines to join.
Under Sabin Aboitiz’s leadership, the GT is preparing the organization’s employees to address sustainability challenges innovatively and effectively. Just like its business model, the company’s transformation is customer-, stakeholder- and human-centric, reflecting the principle that everything in this world is interconnected through and for human beings. They are both the driving force behind the GT, as well as its ultimate beneficiaries.
As it celebrates this momentous anniversary and journeys forward, Aboitiz Foundation strengthens its commitment to using technology as a lever to fuel its sustainability agenda and ensure better lives for Filipinos. A “Great Transformation” sounds audacious, but it is grounded in the belief that true sustainability can only be achieved when solutions are designed with people at the core. “The challenges of sustainability are a collective responsibility that can be surmounted through collaboration, empathy and innovation,” says Aboitiz Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar.
The techglomerate model is more than just a new operational framework for the foundation. It’s a clarion call for other corporations to reload their sustainability strategies and raise the bar. By embracing the convergence of technology and humanity, businesses can accelerate the journey toward a world where environmental conservation, social responsibility and good governance coalesce for the betterment of people and the planet.
The Aboitiz Foundation story is really about the sustainability of the human race, and it serves as a compelling manifesto for other foundations and corporations to take a page out of. The foundation’s approach hopes to help illuminate the path to a future where corporations do not just contribute to a better world but actually co-create it.
In the ever-evolving realm of ESG, the foundation’s 35-year-old history serves as a strong reminder that businesses have a fundamental role to play in societal change. As the foundation moves forward, the group seems fairly convinced that the GT will not just reshape the way it thinks and acts, but also redefine the very contours of sustainable corporate practice in the Philippines.