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Celebrating Sustainability Champions:Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2023

Celebrating Sustainability Champions:Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2023

Held for the 20th year, the awards attracted a record number of applications

Earlier this year, the 20th edition of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards took place, with Talawakelle Tea Estates clinching the top honour as the ‘Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2023’ winner. Aitken Spence and Nestlé Lanka were recognized as the first and second runners-up, respectively. This prestigious event is the apex platform for recognizing sustainability leaders within the Sri Lankan corporate sphere, underlining the significance of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. It encourages businesses to integrate best practices in these areas while pursuing their goals, mindful of their responsibility to future generations.

Open to a wide array of enterprises, from large corporations to smaller entities, the BCCS Awards commend the efforts of both the private and public sectors in engaging responsibly with stakeholders and emphasizing the role of corporate sustainability in Sri Lanka. The awards cover several focal points including environmental stewardship, customer and community relations, governance, financial performance, and economic contribution, evaluated by a panel of national sustainability experts. The Chamber reaffirms its dedication to aiding businesses in achieving their objectives, confident in the awards’ ability to inspire during challenging times.

Talawakelle Tea Estates also secured the Category B ‘Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2023’, designed for companies with an annual turnover below Rs. 15 Billion, with Elpitiya Plantations and Kelani Valley Plantations taking the first and second runner-up positions, respectively, in this category.

This year, the Awards witnessed a record-breaking number of applications, with over 90 submissions, signalling a growing commitment among businesses to embed sustainable development into their core operations. Out of these, 33 applications vied for the main award, and 61 targeted the projects awards, reflecting a diverse commitment across various sectors to sustainable business practices.

As the BCCS Awards mark two decades of celebrating corporate citizenship excellence, this year’s competition highlighted how companies are increasingly weaving sustainable practices into their business frameworks. “The wide range of companies showcasing their sustainable development efforts and innovative projects across various initiatives not only highlights an enhanced recognition of sustainability’s importance but also reflects a genuine ambition to make a positive impact,” remarked Buwanekabahu Perera, Secretary General and CEO of the Ceylon Chamber.

Rathika De Silva, the Chairperson of the Panel of Evaluators, noted this year as a period of resurgence for businesses across all sectors, with many displaying resilience through innovative strategies while maintaining their commitment to sustainability. The submissions covered a broad spectrum, tackling environmental, social, and economic issues, with some focusing on internal changes and others aiming to benefit wider communities and society. “We commend the companies that have not only shared their innovations and best practices but have also created valuable tools and resources for the industry at large and society to benefit from,” said De Silva, highlighting the culture of innovation, problem-solving, and employee engagement within these organizations.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce leads in enhancing Sri Lanka’s corporate focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. In May 2024, it will inaugurate the Annual Sri Lanka Climate Summit, under the theme “Code Red: Climate Risks and Opportunities for Sri Lankan Businesses.” This pivotal event aims to tackle the pressing climate challenges and unearth opportunities for the nation’s economic landscape. By examining climate threats to crucial sectors and advocating for sustainable and innovative practices, the summit seeks to diminish these risks and foster green economic growth. Gathering industry leaders, policymakers, and specialists, the summit is dedicated to crafting a Climate Action Plan that emphasizes sustainable development and economic resilience. The Sri Lanka Climate Summit 2024 exemplifies the Chamber’s resolve to steer Sri Lanka toward a resilient and sustainable future amidst global climate challenges.

Top Ten Corporate Citizens: This Award recognises the top ten corporates which have implemented outstanding sustainability initiatives under both ‘Category A & B’. Aitken Spence, CBL Investments Limited (CBL Group), Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, Elpitiya Plantations, Hatton National Bank, Kelani Valley Plantations, Nestlé Lanka, Sampath Bank and Talawakelle Tea Estates were adjudged the Top Ten Corporate Citizens of 2022.

Best Projects Sustainability Awards 2023: These Awards recognise the efforts of the private/public sector to engage in specific projects relating to key aspects of sustainability relevant to the organization and in response to contextual needs. The eleven projects awarded under this category are: CBL Foods International – Master Carton Recycling Project, Citizens Development Business Finance – Act Early for Autism, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company – Endane Biodiversity Corridor, Elpitiya Plantations – Fix to Fix It, Haycarb – Haritha Angara, HJS Condiments Ltd. – Eradicating Melon-Fly Menace in the Cucurbitaceae Family using the Sterile Male Releasing Technique, JAT Holdings – JAT Pintharoo Abhiman, Jaykay Marketing Services – Say No to Food Waste, Jetwing Hotels – Second Careers, MAS Holdings – MAS Breast Cancer Awareness Programme, and MJF Charitable Foundation – Rainbow Horizons.

Triple Bottom-line Awards: Awarded to companies with the best performance in the three sustainability pillars of Planet (Environmental Sustainability), People (Social Sustainability) and Profit (Economic Sustainability), Talawakelle Tea Estates won the Award for Environmental Sustainability, while Sampath Bank and Ceylon Tobacco Company were awarded the Social Sustainability and Economic Sustainability Awards respectively.

Category Awards: Winners of the category Awards were Talawakelle Tea Estates for Corporate Environmental Commitment, Environmental Integration, Environment Beyond the Business, Employee Relations, and Governance, MAS Active – MAS Kreeda for Customer Relations, Aitken Spence for Supplier Relations, Sampath Bank for Community Relations, Ceylon Tobacco Company for Financial Performance, and Omega Line for Economic Contribution.

Sector-Based Sustainability Champions: Awarding the best sustainability performance in the specific sectors corporates operate in, the winners were: Talawakelle Tea Estates – Agriculture, Hayleys Fentons – Construction, Aitken Spence – Diversified Holdings, Sampath Bank – Finance, Oxford College of Business – Knowledge Services, Nestlé Lanka – Manufacturing, Singer (Sri Lanka) Retail Sector, and Sri Lanka Telecom under the sector – Other. Aitken Spence won the Award for Best Presented Application.    

Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award – Panel of Judges:

Chiyo Kanda, Country Director – World Bank, Chairperson of the Panel of Judges

Christian Skoog, Country representative – UNICEF, Sri Lanka

Dennis Wesner, Deputy Director – Office of Economic Growth -United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Rathnija Arandara, Operations Officer – International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award – Panel of Evaluators:

Rathika De Silva, Chairperson of the Panel of Evaluators

Prasad De Silva

Daniel Dissanayaka

Prof Mallika Samaranayake

Prof Sashika Manoratne

Imalka Iddamalgoda

Dulani Sirisena

Pyumi Sumanasekara

Dr Asanga Ranasinghe

Deepal Sooriyarachchi

Ravi De Silva

T F Nimal Perera

Prof Erandathie Lokupitiya

Best Project Sustainability Awards – Panel of Evaluators:

Azam Bakeer Markar

Vinod Malwatte

Harshini de Silva Pandithasekera

Kesava Murali Kanapathy

Karin Fernando