Lady drawing a story board at the Powering Progress Together Asia forum

The forum: resilience in an urbanising world

Shell brought around 300 leading thinkers from academia, business and civil society together in Manila for its Powering Progress Together Asia forum on February 26, 2015. The theme for the event was “Resilience in an Urbanising World”, held against the backdrop of the city’s second Shell Eco-marathon Asia competition, in which students design, build and drive their own vehicles to see how far they can go on one litre equivalent of fuel.

Shell brought around 300 leading thinkers from academia, business and civil society together in Manila for its Powering Progress Together Asia forum on February 26, 2015. The theme for this year’s event was “Resilience in an Urbanising World”, held against the backdrop of the city’s second Shell Eco-marathon Asia student mileage competition. 

Powering Progress Together event in Manilla

The forum encouraged participants to share ideas and experiences about how cities can become more resilient and liveable, how business can contribute to drive further action, and the role that innovation and collaboration can play in accelerating positive change. They discussed the implications for Asia as well as the Philippines.

Shell’s Chief HR and Corporate Officer Hugh Mitchell opened the conference, explaining the critical importance of greater resilience as the proportion of global energy demand from cities “is expected to rise to 79% by 2040”. He underlined the need to increase understanding and encourage cross-sector collaboration.

“Urbanisation will be one of the most significant dynamics affecting the future, presenting both opportunities and risks,” said Dr Glynn Ellis from the Shell Scenarios team, which explores plausible alternative visions of the future to help test and strengthen its business decisions.

Saya Kitasei, Head of Resilience at international environmental advisory company Xyntéo, explained that change did not have to be daunting. “We are not just victims of a future that we cannot control. We shape the world we are in,” she said.

Discussion turned to how businesses might contribute to greater resilience by developing innovative strategies. In one panel, Shell, Coca-Cola and HP discussed responsible business models which respect the environment. Stuart Hawkings, Director of Sustainability at Coca-Cola ASEAN, spoke about a symbiotic relationship between businesses and their surrounding communities.

Luke Beckman of the American Red Cross and Illiac Diaz from MyShelter Foundation said communities should work together to empower themselves. “Resiliency means that we are not victims waiting for a handout, but we’re ready to shape the future.”

Powering Progress Together will visit Manila again in 2016. Our first conference in Manila, in 2014, explored the urban nexus – a connection between people, mobility and technology in cities that can inspire collaborations able to make a difference.

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