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Businesses should take the lead in sustainability: Heng Swee Keat


BUSINESSES should lead the way in pursuing sustainable practices, urged Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"It is a matter of survival, and of stewardship," he said at the Singapore Apex Corporate Sustainability Awards last evening.

"Climate change poses a real threat for small island states like Singapore."

He noted that sustainability is similarly crucial for businesses.

"Studies show that sound sustainability standards lower a company's cost of capital, and result in better operational performance. Investor demands and customer expectations are increasingly favouring sustainable businesses," said Mr Heng.

"Sustainability is also about what we leave behind after our time. We have a duty of stewardship to future generations. Businesses, too, have a duty of stewardship - to their shareholders, their employees, their customers and their community."

He added that Singapore can build upon its own strengths - such as in the urban solutions space - to make a meaningful contribution in global efforts towards sustainable development.

He cited the new Changi Airport Terminal 4, as part of the Changi Airport Group's Living Lab programme - where the group collaborates with companies to test new innovative solutions, such as automation and robotics as well as smart infrastructure management, in a 'live' airport environment.

Businesses here should take up more of such initiatives, which could see "many exciting solutions" emerge, he said.

The government, for its part, is also committed to the cause for sustainability.

Mr Heng noted that the government can contribute by aggregating demand for clean energy. It can also facilitate testing and innovation, he said, pointing to the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator - Singapore (Reids) project, the largest hybrid microgrid test and research platform in South-east Asia.

In addition, Singapore can set the right policy conditions, he added. The Republic has ratified the Paris Agreement, with plans to implement a carbon tax on the emission of greenhouse gases.

Ten organisations received awards for their performance and innovation in corporate sustainability at the event held at Parkroyal on Pickering last night.

The awards, organised by Global Compact Network Singapore, aim to recognise organisations that have demonstrated excellence in sustainability, and to highlight standards for those aspiring to better their sustainability practices.

Neutrinos Engineering, New Resources Technology and Winnow were named winners for clean technology in the small and medium enterprise (SME) category, while AkzoNobel bagged the same title in the multinational corporation category.

In the area of sustainable business, Armor Asia Imaging Supplies, Ricoh Asia Pacific, and Sindicatum Renewable Energy Company emerged as the SME winners, while Frasers Centrepoint, Olam International and Sembcorp Marine took home the award in the MNC category.