Skills Training — With a Twist

Circular World™ Media
4 min readMar 20, 2024


ESG, no longer confined as a metric for investing, has morphed into a catch-all term for sustainability. The ‘E’ for Environment and the ‘G’ for Governance is pretty easy to grasp; it is the ‘S’ for Social that really opens up a whole new world for companies to expand their profile and do-gooder reputation.

The diagram above is one interpretation of the ESG framework, and although there are a few variations, these pillars are the standard offerings. If it is not glaringly obvious, the middle pillar, Social, places humans at the centre of the universe, otherwise known as ‘Anthropocentrism’, yet our society is made up of many other life forms, all of which are impacted by climate change, resource scarcity, urban development and our belief that we are separate and above from nature.

Domesticated Animals in Society

There has been a lot written about the overwhelming number of stray dogs and cats around the world, including Malaysia. The sad fact is that stray domesticated animals are just not a priority in many places. But it could be if only we looked at the ‘S’ in ESG to include additional life forms, such as strays that suffer terribly from our ignorance of their plight.

It is almost impossible to obtain reliable statistics on stray dogs and cats around the world, but the numbers that are available range from 600 ~ 900 million for dogs alone. While the number of stray dogs and cats in Malaysia is still unknown, it is believed the numbers are tremendous, totalling approximately 6 million and 5 million, respectively, compared to the number of owned pet dogs and cats in the country.

In a 2023 report, researchers conducted a survey, and in the fourth section titled ‘National Strategy on Stray and Companion Animal Management’, respondents chose answers based on the suggestions, which were:

Public perspectives on strays and companion animal management in Malaysia

There are several good ideas here, even if some are a little impractical. For a company looking to expand its ESG credentials, animal welfare for cats and dogs may not appear to be very attractive, mainly due to the lack of credibility and skills, which is an immediate reputational risk too big to ignore.

In Thailand, the Soi Dog Foundation has grown to become a highly respected animal welfare institution with a track record of having sterilised more than 1.1 million animals since 2003. The Soi Dog Foundation could be a good template for other countries, including Malaysia, except we can do even better if we reduce the reliance on donations and enhance relationships with the corporate world.

Skills Training and Beyond

Animal rescue is becoming big business, but the lack of skills for animal welfare workers is acute. One organisation, Applied Vocational Training , based in Perth, Western Australia, offers courses in animal care. However, we really need to think beyond just animal welfare and offer a broader range of skills training wrapped up in an animal care course. After all, it is highly unlikely most animal care trainees will seek a long-term career in animal welfare.

For example, if animal welfare courses included a broader range of life skills such as digital skills, social media communication, community liaison and outreach, public speaking, financial literacy and a basic understanding of sustainability, climate change and resource management (circular economy) etc., then we would be improving the career opportunities for trainees. Upon the successful completion of the course, trainees would be required to take on an additional six months ‘apprenticeship’ with an animal welfare agency or veterinary clinic to embed a sense of work ethic and discipline. The animal welfare agency, in return, would be required to become familiar with ESG reporting, so the correct metrics could be provided to companies acting as sponsors or providing funding.

While not exactly the circular economy, we need to become far more creative in how we interpret the ‘S’ in ESG and the notion of “ a company’s relations with …society at large “. Millions of animals are suffering in our society and the numbers are exploding each year. We can significantly reduce the number of strays and their suffering, but we also need the skills to do it properly.


Ms Adrienna Zsakay is the founder and CEO of Circular Economy Asia Inc. , and this article presents her opinions on the circular economy. Circular World ™ Video of the Week is brought to you by Circular World™ Media — a brand owned by Circular Economy Asia Inc.


‘Anthropocentrism’ definition “ is the belief that human beings are the central or most important entity on the planet. The term can be used interchangeably with humanocentrism, and some refer to the concept as human supremacy or human exceptionalism. From an anthropocentric perspective, humankind is seen as separate from nature and superior to it, and other entities (animals, plants, minerals, etc.) are viewed as resources for humans to use.” from .

Public perspectives on strays and companion animal management in Malaysia ‘ by Syafiq Munir Ismail Munir, Mohd Istajib Mokhtar and Ahmad Firdhaus Arham , published by BMC Public Health, 26 July 2023.

Originally published at



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