Australian industry must set an example for sustainability
Australia’s growing demand for sustainable solutions to water shortages had another surge in discussion as recent waste fires cause lasting problems
With the building of a sustainable future omnipresent across the world’s media, recent research into issues in Merri Creek are a continuation of a theme. Specifically, the irresponsible disposal, treatment and storage of waste, near the southern Victoria waterway has led to increasing concern.
In late November 2015 an illegally operated wood dump caught fire, with runoff spilling into the local environment and causing damage to ecology as far as 7km downstream. Later, in January 2019 another fire at a tyre recycling facility saw tributaries of Merri Creek flooded. This resulted in the deployment of rapid response work by Melbourne Water, which stemmed the pollution.
Although Merri Creek was not impacted directly by the most recent incident, this did not completely stop the pollution of both air and water around the area, with runoff making its way into the water systems reportedly creating a toxic risk to the community. A risk that the community may have to pay for, as public funding is diverted to remedy these disasters.
The need for Melbourne to address its waste disposal concerns continues to amplify. According to the reports, the recycling industry has failed to regulate itself and it may be time for more serious solutions to be implemented through infrastructure investment.
On a broader level, Australia has committed to the government-run High Level Panel on water; new initiatives were announced in December 2017, when the Water for Women fund opened. AU$110.6mn would be invested by several continental governments, over five years, into sustainable water, gender equality and improvement of health across Austral-Asia. This sees the government making efforts overseas. In New Zealand, research into automated water cleaning is being conducted but these are measures to deal the symptoms rather than the problem itself.
With more than 30% of Australia’s agricultural land is considered severely degraded and salt brought to the top soil through lack of vegetation on intensive irrigation costing Australia industry around $3.5bn a year. The effects of pollution are becoming a wider problem for both business and civilians.
The time for considered action on sustainable initiatives is a rapidly closing window. Both public and private sector organisations need to take responsibility for their processes and the affect that lax waste management can have not only on the business as a whole but on the community it proposes to be a part of.
Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?
Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.
Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.
JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.
Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.
Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?
A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.
The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.
According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.
Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.
“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”
How did JungJin get there?
JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.
And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.
With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.
“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”