Masagos urges firms to partner Govt in sustainability push

The panel yesterday included (from left) general manager of Ricoh's service and environment division J.D. Kasamoto; Minister Masagos Zulkifli; Eco-Business editor Jessica Cheam; vice-president of communications and sustainability at Unilever David Ki
The panel yesterday included (from left) general manager of Ricoh's service and environment division J.D. Kasamoto; Minister Masagos Zulkifli; Eco-Business editor Jessica Cheam; vice-president of communications and sustainability at Unilever David Kiu; Singapore Management University professor Ann Florini; and WWF senior adviser Sandeep Chamling Rai.PHOTO: RICOH ASIA-PACIFIC

Govt taking lead in climate change fight; some firms stepping up green practices

With challenges of climate change looming for Singapore and the world, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli has urged companies to partner the Government on moves to enhance environmental sustainability.

Mr Masagos was speaking at a panel discussion organised by Ricoh Asia-Pacific yesterday as part of the company's 10th annual Eco Action Day, a business-led environmental awareness campaign started in 2007.

The six panellists participating in the event at Ricoh's offices in Penang Road included leaders from business, academia and non-governmental organisations.

This year's event comes after the signing of the landmark Paris climate agreement on April 22, when Singapore was represented in New York by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, alongside other nations which had committed to the pact to cut emissions.

Mr Masagos said the Government is taking the lead back home by enhancing its procurement programme to include electrical products certified with high energy efficiency and paper products carrying the Singapore Green Label.

He added: "I would like to take this opportunity to urge companies to consider adopting similar practices as well, and partner the Government in ensuring good stewardship of our resources."

Mr David Kiu, vice-president of communications and sustainability at consumer giant Unilever, said climate change and sustainability are vital to the future of human civilisation, which should be the starting point for any business strategy.

He said the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan articulated this about five years ago to address the challenge of growing the business while reducing its environmental impact.

Unilever, which makes household products from food to toiletries, has since reduced its carbon footprint by about 40 per cent.

Furthermore, it achieved "zero waste to landfill" last year, meaning none of the waste from its 600 sites worldwide was sent to landfills, said Mr Kiu.

Said Mr Masagos: "Businesses can play a key role in mitigating global warming by investing in clean energy technologies and improving energy efficiency."

The Government has several schemes to help companies in this area - for example, the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies to support investments in such technologies, and the Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme, which supports studies to identify areas for improvement. Companies can apply for these through the National Environment Agency.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Masagos urges firms to partner Govt in sustainability push'. Print Edition | Subscribe