Promote ethical investment to ensure positive impact of business on society

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There are over 50 industrial zones in Myanmar, and 29 zones with 3,560 factories are reportedly located in Yangon Region alone.
Industrial zones and factories are sine qua non for economic development. They are the driving force for the development of a country. But, we need to focus on their impact to ensure the sustainability of the natural environment. When an investment is proposed, we need to consider how it will affect the natural environment and the living creatures that rely on it.
In Myanmar, river pollution is getting worse. Factory wastewater is the main cause of pollution in the rivers. It makes the water toxic and harms aquatic creatures. Among the factories that discharge untreated wastewater into rivers through ditches, creeks, and streams, textile factories and distilleries have the worst record.
About 60 per cent of private investment companies are in the food and beverages sector.
The capacity of the smallest distilleries is 4,000 gallons a day and the largest factory has been producing 30,000 gallons a day. Wastewater discharge from those factories amounts to 4 million gallons per day. Out of those distilleries, only a few factories have completed building wastewater treatment systems, according to a survey.
In some instances, untreated water dumped by factories has killed fish and damaged crops.
In a recent incident, villagers complained against a factory for discharging untreated water into a river on which they rely for bathing and household use after adults and children suffered skin diseases.
In some cases, local people have protested against factories for emitting ash with sparks and foul smell, causing air pollution.
Such incidents have given rise to concerns about businessmen making investments only for production, without regard to waste treatment.
If companies violate health, safety, employment, and environmental standards, then law enforcement and regulating agencies that are charged with designing and enforcing these rules should take action as soon as possible to ensure the situation does not get worse.
However much we wish exemplary behavior among factories, what we want to see is these companies acknowledging the importance of issues such as climate change, human rights, and social responsibility for sustainability.
Ethical investment deserves our patience. But there is an urgent need for law enforcement to ensure responsible investment that has a positive impact on society and the environment.

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