Meeting Asia's challenges

Chandran Nair spoke at AECOM's annual Planning Council on 30 January 2008.

On January 30, 2008, Chandran Nair, founder and chief executive of GIFT was invited to speak at AECOM’s annual Planning Council on key environmental and sustainability issues impacting Asia’s economies, with a particular focus on China and India. In attendance were AECOM’s top management and engineer designers, including the company’s President and CEO, John Dionisio.

In his speech, Mr. Nair argued that one of the biggest challenges for Asian governments is balancing its economic growth with environmental sustainability and social objectives. In particular, he expressed the concern that the unprecedented economic growth of China and India will become a serious challenge to these countries as well as to the rest of the world. Mr. Nair posed a fundamental question to the audience of how the rest of the world will handle the increasing numbers of eager Chinese and Indians looking to consume its shares of cars, McDonalds and refrigerators and the implications this would have on managing the world’s dwindling resources.

In what he believes is the paradox of Asia’s development, Mr. Nair pointed out that while the push for profits and economic expansion have largely fueled Asia’s growth and improved general living standards in the region, this growth has also been at the cost to the environment and to the poorest in society who still lack access to basic services such as safe water. He continued by stating while governments and businesses have expressed public concerns about these issues, their responses in managing resources, growing populations, and urbanization has been largely inadequate. Mr. Nair concluded by restating that while balancing growth with environmental and social objectives is critical, it will not be easy. To meet these challenges, action must be taken to create strong governance, institutional reforms and private sector participation.

Other speakers at the conference included; Jeff DeGraff, Professor, University of Michigan; Andrew Savitz, Author, Sustainable Business Strategies –Economic, Social and Environmental Success; Pat Mulroy, Executive Director, Southern Nevada Water; Norman Mineta, former US Secretary of Commerce & US Secretary of Transportation.

Mr. Nair is a frequent speaker at conferences and other corporate events around the world.