Wednesday, March 22, 2023 | Sha'ban 29, 1444 H
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Sustainable Manufacturing: The time is now

Tejarah Talks
Maymuna al Adawi
Maymuna al Adawi

Maymuna al Adawi of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion and organizer of the Oman Business Forum Tejarah Talks discusses sustainable manufacturing, the topic for the first session of the popular series in 2023.

Q: Tejarah Talks got off to a flying start in 2022. What’s in store for 2023?

A: Appropriately, as this is the month in which Oman celebrates Industry Day, the first Tejarah Talks of the 2023 season, which takes place Wednesday February 15, will be on sustainable manufacturing. We take pride in always putting together impressive speaker line-ups and this one is no exception with Harssha Shetty, CEO, Jindal Shadeed; Mazin al Rubaiai, Marketing Manager, Oman Aluminum Rolling Company; Haider al Zaabi, Co-founder, Mays EV; and Eng. Abdullah al Saidi, CEO & Founder, Nafath Renewable Energy. These are industrial pioneers - folk driving Oman’s sustainability efforts. His Highness Sayyid Dr Adham al Said, Founder, The Firm, will moderate the February 15 panel discussion.

Generously supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Youth, Jindal Shadeed, Omantel and OmanFM, over a thousand people attended Tejarah Talks last year. We are looking to build on the success we enjoyed in 2022 and take Tejarah Talks up a notch or two - providing attendees with even more memorable insights and food for thought. Hopefully, people will leave our sessions feeling inspired, empowered and ready to do things differently. We want to continue making a positive impact.

Q: What is sustainable manufacturing?

A: The actual definition of sustainable manufacturing changes depending on who you are talking to. However, according to the UN’s Bruntland Commission Report, sustainable manufacturing is a form of manufacturing development that meets “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In a nutshell, sustainable manufacturing is all about minimizing the diverse business risks inherent in any manufacturing operation while maximizing the new opportunities that arise from improving processes and products.

Q: Are people taking sustainability seriously?

A: Today, manufacturing is changing at a rate of knots and at the heart of this change is sustainability. What began as a compliance and reporting exercise has become a strategic business imperative. Forward thinking Omani manufacturers are resetting their sustainability targets to reduce waste, increase efficiency, gain visibility across the supply chain as well as enhance their brand reputation.

I think it is fair to say that since the COVID-19 pandemic began sustainability has moved to the top of the agenda for governments, investors and consumers. In terms of examples of this, here in Oman the government has introduced a 2050 net-zero emissions target while the EU has put climate change response at the heart of its post-pandemic economic-recovery plans. And as for business, just look at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager – it has told companies in its portfolio that it will vote against the re-election of directors that fail to protect natural resources and cut carbon emissions. Consumers too have also become a lot more vocal about sustainability and are more likely to act on their views. Interestingly, one recent survey of apparel companies found that almost 50% feared they would lose customers if they did not live up to sustainability commitments.

So, I think you can see this creates a very interesting backdrop for our Tejarah Talks sustainable manufacturing discussions.

Q: And how are manufacturers responding to all this?

A: In their droves, I would say. Over the past few years, an extraordinary number of manufacturers worldwide have made public commitments to ongoing reductions in carbon emissions and resource consumption. Across industries, geographies and company sizes, businesses have been allocating more resources toward improving their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance. In fact, more than 90% of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports in some form, as do approximately 70% of Russell 1000 companies. And it is estimated that 21% of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies, representing sales of nearly US$14 trillion, now have net zero commitments. Increasingly, these targets encompass not just the operations of these companies - reflected in the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions - but also the entire value chain, as envisioned in Scope 3. This in turn has placed extra pressure on thousands of suppliers to reduce their own environmental footprints. I should say that in addition to helping the planet, many manufacturers feel that reducing their environmental impact can offer them long-term financial gain. A McKinsey survey of over 2,000 company leaders found that 40% of respondents expected their sustainability programs to generate profit in the next five years by attracting more environmentally conscious consumers. Going forward, any Omani manufacturer looking to secure growth needs to embed sustainability into all their products, services and processes.

Q: Are consumers playing any part in shaping the sustainability agenda?

A: I think they are. In PWC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey, just 35% of respondents said they chose sustainable products to help protect the environment, 37% said they looked for products with environmentally friendly packaging and 41% said they avoided the use of plastic when they could. But in their 2021 survey, results show percentages ten to 20 points higher in response to similarly worded questions. In a recent McKinsey study, 75% of millennial respondents, said they consider sustainability when making a purchase. The message is loud and clear, consumers around the world want to live more sustainably. And many expect businesses to play a key role in society and feel that when it comes to driving positive change, brands bear as much responsibility as governments. Indeed, as the climate crisis worsens, it is incumbent on manufacturers to protect future generations and improve their production processes. By learning more about sustainability and adopting its main principles, Omani manufacturers can ensure the transition to the circular economy is as smooth and successful as possible.

Q: So sustainable manufacturing is the first Tejarah Talks of the 2023 session. What else can we expect during the year?

A: We will be covering topics ranging from Web 3.0, Oman’s journey to net zero, M-commerce and how cities and businesses can work together for growth. All chosen with their relevance to Oman Vision 2040. For those who cannot attend in person, there is always the possibility to tune in online. And do not forget we also issue a Tejarah Talks report after each session as well as a podcast. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about our discussions from last year can catch the webcasts on Oman Business Forum’s YouTube channel:

Tejarah Talks is open to all and free-of-charge to attend. The next session will take place on February 15, starting at 7.30pm sharp. To reserve your seat register at:

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