An event of true sustainability importance happened the other morning at SM Aura; and the support given to the event by our national government cannot be overemphasized. On the morning in question, SM Supermalls proudly announced that at their SM Aura, SM MOA, SM Megamall and SM North EDSA malls, there would now be E-Vehicle Charging Stations that mall-goers could avail of, free of charge. And during the simple ceremonies, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Transportation (DOTR), and the Department of Science & Technology (DOST), were all represented.
As part of the #SMGreenMovement initiative, this project is proof positive of the commitment the SM Group has for their in-house Sustainability Development Goals; and how the championing of their ESG Agenda (environment, social, and governance), as led by Mr. Hans Sy, and by extension, his son Chico, is ready to move ahead of the proverbial curve. In some of the developed, first world cities and countries, the percentage of e-vehicles on the road can go beyond 20% – with China, Germany, & California in the USA, among the ones leading the charge. While this may not be the case yet here in Metro Manila, it’s evident that SM Supermalls is playing its role in hastening this development, and proving that they’re more than ready to answer the call of being a leader of Sustainability.
Hosted by James Deakin, the affair was a succession of short speeches from SM Supermalls President Steven Tan, and from each of the government agencies who were present, and all have a role to play in furthering sustainability and e-vehicles in our country. I especially liked DOST’s Asec. Teodoro Gatchalian talking about his travels to European capitals and the proliferation of e-vehicles there, about how seriously these cities took this transport technology shift, and why these SM charging stations were so important to slowly help bring about this shift into our regular lifestyle.
DTI Secretary Mon Lopez spoke about the accessibility to e-vehicles, and how policy guidelines were being formed to encourage the local manufacture of e-vehicles; and how changes in the duties and taxes on these vehicles will assist in making them more attractive purchases. During the event, we saw the Audi and Porsche e-models and they were very impressive. I liked how Steven Tan also made mention of other car brands, those that would make these vehicles more affordable. I know that both Toyota and Hyundai have e-vehicles, and their price points don’t stray that far from the regular models.
As Steven Tan went on to explain, the idea is to have SM mall-goers have the opportunity to go to their favorite SM mall in their e-vehicle, and spend time at the mall while their vehicle is charging – this can take from four to eight hours. One can even go watch a film with the family, while their car is being charged. It’s about planning for the more responsible Tomorrow we’re hoping for today, and setting the benchmark from a corporate perspective on what can be done and achieved to prepare for this idealized future.
I know that Sustainability is an all-encompassing term, with an umbrella that includes environmental issues, social issues, and governance issues. No single action will necessarily address all three sets of issues consistently. What it will take are several initiatives and a commitment to sustain them for the long haul. What I had to salute here was the SM Group tackling one environmental issue in its own way, and demonstrating that when it comes to governance, the Group is ready to make Sustainability part of their present-day DNA. They’re not just playing lip service or jumping on some bandwagon.
It could be easy to put up one charging station as a token gesture; but they’ve corralled four centrally located Malls to provide the charging station service, and they’ve promised to expand this as time goes on. While the parking isn’t free, the charging of your e-vehicle is; and that’s already doing a lot, in my books, when you factor in how it’s not something that the SM malls have to install in their parking areas by law, or are turning it into a revenue stream.