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Zhang Yong, Chairman of Alibaba's Board of Directors: The company's "number one position" is the chief sustainability officer



On October 24, 2019, China's first Sustainable Development Forum was held in Beijing. As the only corporate representative, Zhang Yong, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. He said that the Internet and digital technologies provide innovative means for sustainable development, and the company's "number one" should assume the responsibility of "chief sustainability officer". The following is the full text of Zhang Yong's speech.

Sustainable development is a common topic of mankind, and it is also the goal of our continuous exploration. In today's era, all aspects of human social life are developing rapidly, and they also bring about some huge problems, such as environmental and social issues that everyone has been discussing.

Like everyone here, I also believe that sustainable development is our common goal, and the pursuit of sustainable development is a joint effort that all human beings should practice.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Alibaba Group. Twenty years ago, we were born in an era when the Internet started. At the beginning of the establishment of Alibaba, we set an important mission, which is to "make the world easy to do business."

In the past 20 years, we have used commercial means to achieve this mission by serving small and medium-sized enterprises, serving consumers, and better combining technology and business.

We have also found that the process of implementing such a mission shares many common keywords with the topic "sustainable development" we are discussing today, such as "altruism" and "inclusiveness".

In the process of sustainable development, these keywords that we are pursuing together have been deeply integrated into the DNA of Alibaba's entire company and system development, and become our blood.

After 20 years of development, in the process of fulfilling our mission, we have formed a distinctive and very unique digital economy ecology. Today, we have formed a digital business, financial payment, logistics, cloud computing, big data, etc. Infrastructure in a wide range of digital economy era.

Today, Alibaba's digital ecosystem has served more than 700 million consumers in the Chinese market. Last year, the scale of consumption on Alibaba's digital platform exceeded RMB 6 trillion. Behind this are thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises and various partners who work with us to create the future of the digital economy together with digital technology.

As Ali continues to explore sustainable development, we are constantly summarizing it. I would like to share three of these experiences with you.

First, we deeply feel that the Internet continues to bring new innovative methods to the sustainable development of mankind. The Internet represents a new type of productivity, and due to the development of the Internet, various new types of production relations have been formed.

The development of the Internet has also brought many emerging industries and many new digital industrialization opportunities. GDP growth is no longer just linked to energy consumption. The Internet has no borders, which narrows the gap between urban and rural areas, makes urban and rural entrepreneurial opportunities more equal, and creates new trends in population mobility.

Talking about sustainable development today, an important topic we discussed together is poverty alleviation. The emergence of the Internet has brought innovations in poverty alleviation methods. I am very pleased to see that Alibaba's "Internet + poverty alleviation" model, as a corporate case, is included in the "Report on China's Progress in Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" released today.

In fact, what we are doing is to use the power of the Internet to enable rural areas in need of assistance to directly connect with the market and consumers through the Internet. We helped these impoverished counties find local characteristic products, join the Internet, and realized innovative sales methods. For example, we invite these impoverished county heads and farmers to go online and become a new generation of talents through live broadcast. This method can not only bring one-time sales, but also establish a brand for local products.

Through such continuous efforts and innovation, we are practicing the idea of poverty alleviation, that is, "Teaching people to fish is worse than teaching them to fish"-giving him a fishing rod is much better than giving him a fish-so that we can truly let Sustainable local development.

Second, today the entire society is striding into the era of digital economy, and new technologies such as cloud computing and big data are widely used, bringing new momentum and providing new impetus to the sustainable development of mankind. Today, all walks of life are talking about digitization and intelligence, and they are also generating unprecedented large-scale data. These data are being combined with business, industry, and technology to generate huge new energy.

On the other hand, due to the development of new technologies, today our big data processing capabilities, cloud computing capabilities, algorithm capabilities, artificial intelligence capabilities, etc., are developing unprecedentedly. This makes our original hardware dependence, energy consumption dependence and consumption, also unprecedented.

Today, all walks of life can find new entry points for sustainable development through digitalization and new technologies: for example, the combination of big data and artificial intelligence can increase the rate of industrial yield and decrease the loss rate; because of the development of agricultural technology, Yield per mu can rise several times from 1,000 jin. Local governments have also seen the tremendous energy that digital technology brings to urban governance, people's livelihood services, and social public services, and they are moving toward a wide range of digital governments. All of these make sustainable development a common harvest for mankind by gaining momentum from new technologies.

Third, as a platform-based company, if it can actively participate and promote, sustainable development can be more widely participated by all sectors of society and the public, and then the results and gains of sustainable development can be returned to all sectors of society more inclusively .

Let me give an example here: Alibaba's Ant Forest project. Ant Forest has just won the United Nations' highest environmental honor "Guardian of the Earth" in 2019. It is through a game-like interaction that encourages every Internet user to use less disposable tableware, reduce the requirements for packaging when ordering takeout, and reduce the requirements for packaging materials when shopping online, and can walk more and lower Carbon travel, less personal transportation.

After gathering more environmental protection efforts through this series of behaviors, a tree can be planted on the Internet. When it grows to a certain stage, the virtual tree will become a real tree. So far, we have planted 122 million real trees in Inner Mongolia and Gansu. In this way, all users can first participate in environmental protection, energy saving and low-carbon actions, and because of such efforts, everyone has a sense of accomplishment and reaps rewards for environmental improvement.

Today, when we broadly move towards the digital economy era, it will inevitably promote the birth and development of a new commercial civilization. The birth and development of a new commercial civilization must be based on openness, sharing and inclusiveness. Sustainable development must also be an important connotation of our new business civilization facing the era of digital economy.

I heard some discussions. Now every company has to set up a "Chief Sustainability Officer." This is a good suggestion. But my other reaction is that, first of all, the chief sustainability officer of a company should be the “number one” of the company. He must fully consider sustainable development when formulating strategies, formulating business development directions, and serving customers. Go in.

Of course, everyone in the company must be a practitioner and participant of sustainable development, and also a beneficiary. We work together to promote sustainable development.

Earlier I mentioned that the mission established at the beginning of Alibaba's establishment was to "make the world easy to do business", which is very similar to the concept of sustainable development. We also have a vision, that is, we hope to be a good company that can live for 102 years, with the focus on "being a good company."

What is more important for a good company is not only that we are good, but also that society can become better because of Alibaba and our efforts.

Source: Alilibaba official micro


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