Leaders in Sustainability Special Report 2023: An Interview with Heinrich Jessen

Heinrich Jessen, Chairman of Jebsen & Jessen Group discusses our corporate sustainability commitment, goals and challenges with Green Network Asia

Can you tell us about your organisation and your current role?

Jebsen & Jessen Group is a diversified industrial conglomerate specialising in the manufacturing, engineering, and distribution of products and services in Southeast Asia and beyond. We operate within a larger family enterprise with sister companies worldwide. After completing my master’s degree in industrial environmental management, I joined the Group in 1995 and established our Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) programme to improve its impact. In my current capacity as Chairman, partner, and member of the Executive Board alongside the Group CEO, we collectively guide the group on a day-to-day basis from our headquarters in Singapore.

What are your corporate sustainability commitments and goals? 

With sustainability as an ongoing journey, our commitments and goals have evolved over the years, reflecting our progress and the changing landscape we navigate. Guided by our corporate values, one thing has stood true throughout the years: ensuring a sustainable future for future generations, whether as a business or for our family, employees, local communities, partners, and customers.

In 2001, we achieved international best practices in EHS, with ISO 14001 certification across our 50 companies in Southeast Asia. In 2008, we appointed a Carbon Neutrality Officer, and maintaining carbon neutrality has been our steadfast commitment since 2011. Pledging our commitment to the Family Business Sustainability Pledge 2030, a joint initiative by UNCTAD and FBN, in 2019 further underscored our dedication to driving measurable progress for a sustainable future.

In 2023, we voluntarily published our first sustainability report using the Family Business for Sustainable Development framework by the aforementioned initiative, demonstrating our dedication to measurable progress and transparency in building a sustainable future. 

In 2024, we aim to assess our current position, identify improvement areas, and promote collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure a thriving future. We are dedicated to enhancing the efficiency of our businesses, minimising environmental impact, and delivering responsible solutions. 

What have been your most difficult challenges in achieving those goals? 

We ​ have been implementing sustainable practices for years, and persisted even in a landscape where there were no government tax breaks, and sustainability efforts or carbon neutrality were not factors of consideration for businesses and clients. ​ It was challenging when no other companies followed suit, and the commercial benefits were not as straightforward. Nevertheless, we persevered, and in recent years, we have witnessed a more supportive environment taking shape.

What opportunities do you see to address those challenges?

Leveraging insights from our inaugural sustainability report has allowed us to gather valuable insights, reflect upon the unique milestones, assess our current position and progress, and elevate transparency.

In today’s landscape, it’s encouraging to see more new hires and customers prioritising sustainability and taking into account our sustainability principles and carbon-neutral status before choosing to work with us. Recognising this positive shift, we believe addressing sustainability concerns serves as a huge opportunity for all businesses.

What are the ESG material (environmental, social, and governance) issues that your organisation focuses on, and how do you integrate them into your corporate sustainability?

Our ESG approach covers EHS, carbon neutrality, corporate compliance, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and is integrated into our everyday business. This includes achieving international best practice standards for EHS in 2001; CSR activities, such as our Meet a Need Programme, that combines corporate volunteering with funding to give back to the community and the environment; and strong adherence to sound corporate governance principles, with ethical business practices deeply rooted in our organisational structures and decision-making processes.

How do you communicate your corporate sustainability strategy and initiatives to internal and external stakeholders? 

We have consistently communicated our sustainability efforts for the past three decades organisation-wide—with internal updates to employees, board and leadership discussions, and making the company’s social and environmental performance review accessible upon request by internal stakeholders. 

We work regularly with external stakeholders to ensure our partnerships become more sustainable. This includes finding sustainable alternatives to traditional manufacturing methods, exploring the use of sustainable materials, advocating sustainability with partners and clients, and, most recently, publishing our comprehensive sustainability report that showcases the Group’s 30-year sustainability journey and our green strategy for the future.

What were the most exciting initiatives and progress that you and your team have done in 2023? 

One of our team’s most exciting initiatives was the publication of our sustainability report, which encapsulates the 30-year sustainability journey of the Group and highlights milestones characterised by pioneering spirit, growth, continuous learning, and collaborative efforts. We take pride in showcasing our achievements in reducing our environmental footprint, enhancing employee well-being, and fostering positive relationships within our communities.

What are the lessons you learned from your sustainability efforts in 2023?

Embarking on our first sustainability report helped us to identify areas of improvement, especially with our diverse regional business units (RBU) that were at differing stages of sustainability and varying degrees of data availability. We established a new reporting standard that includes scorecards for each RBU, helping to identify specific indicators relevant to each RBU and areas where data is pending and setting a foundation for further development in both our reporting capabilities and sustainability journey.

What are your plans for your sustainability efforts in 2024? 

As part of our goals for 2024 and the sustainable future, we plan to install more solar roof panels on our facilities, enhance our R&D capabilities to develop more sustainable engineering solutions, engage with key stakeholders on sustainability topics, and work towards our next sustainability report to ensure continued progress and accountability.

If you were to share advice you learned in your role that may be helpful to your peers and sustainability practitioners around the world, what would that be?

It’s important to take stock of your sustainability journey to recognise and celebrate progress, adapt to changing needs, and chart the way forward. My advice would be to integrate sustainability into decision-making processes at all levels of the organisation, identify opportunities for improvement, and utilise sustainability reporting as a pivotal tool. As we strive to achieve clean and efficient operations in our diverse fields of business, we hope to inspire like-minded companies to embark on their own sustainability journeys.

This publication is a part of Green Network Asia’s Leaders in Sustainability Special Report 2023.


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About Jebsen & Jessen Group

We are an ASEAN-focused industrial conglomerate with a diverse network of businesses spanning manufacturing, engineering, and distribution activities.

The five core business units - Cable TechnologyIngredientsLife SciencesPackaging and Technology - are present in nine countries and deliver through various locations across Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Our 11 manufacturing facilities are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam. Our 2,800 people work as one to develop meaningful products and services for the 20,000 customers we serve.

Jebsen & Jessen Group forms part of a global family enterprise that dates back to a trading partnership formed in Hong Kong in 1895. Beyond the region we are closely connected to a network of sister companies in Australia, Europe and Greater China.

For more information, visit www.jjsea.com.


2 Corporation Road #03-06 Corporation Place (Main Lobby) Singapore 618494

+65 6305 3888

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