SINGAPORE - Doing well by doing good - that is the philosophy of the companies that bagged awards for being sustainable at a ceremony on Tuesday (Dec 7).
The desire to make a difference to society and the environment led these firms to put in place green initiatives, such as reducing carbon emissions and being more efficient in energy and water usage.
Technology firm Palo IT Singapore engaged external professionals to set up carbon emission key performance indicators, with metrics and data stored and monitored on an app called Toovalu.
Meanwhile, City Developments Limited (CDL) became the first real estate conglomerate in South-east Asia to sign a global net-zero carbon buildings commitment this year.
For their efforts, both firms were named the overall winners for the small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporation categories of the Sustainable Business Awards this year. In total, 24 firms clinched awards.
The ceremony was held at Suntec City Convention and Exhibition Centre and organised by Singapore firm Global Initiatives Communications, which uses data science to help firms be more sustainable.
Palo IT managing director Vincent Desclaux said: "We make it our mission to be a tech-for-good company.
"Being sustainable is one major step to accomplish this as sustainability is here to stay."
CDL chief sustainability officer Esther An said: "With the building and construction sector accounting for about 40 per cent of global carbon emissions, the real estate sector is in a prime position to move the needle in the race to net zero.
"In this decade of urgent and decisive action, CDL leverages partnerships and engagements to align and grow our climate ambition and accelerate towards a sustainable future."
About 100 firms applied to be considered for the awards this year, up from 87 in the last edition in 2019.
The awards were started in 2012 and are held in five countries - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Indeed, the emerging green economy provides opportunities for growth, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu at the ceremony.
"Under the Green Plan, we are working to develop a green economy in an inclusive way, leveraging green growth opportunities to create new jobs, seek new investments, transform Singapore's industries, and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage to grow our economy," she said.
This will be done through transforming the economy's key sectors to be more energy- and carbon-efficient, she added, by putting in place schemes, such as grants and funds to help firms be more energy efficient, adopt sustainability standards and create new green products.
"We aim to make our energy and chemicals sector the best in class globally in energy and carbon efficiency," she said, noting that Jurong Island will be transformed into a sustainable manufacturing park by 2030.
In addition, as a financing hub, Singapore will encourage the development of green financing schemes such as sustainable bonds and loans.
"This will facilitate the transition towards green assets and projects as well as redirect financing flows to more sustainable business models," she said.
Meanwhile, Singapore is also growing new sectors in the green economy.
"We aspire to be a carbon services hub, and a marketplace for origination and trading of high-quality carbon offsets," Ms Fu added.
Carbon markets can help create the right pricing incentive for companies to reduce carbon emissions.
In this vein, having a carbon tax also stimulates the development of Singapore's green economy, she said.
"An appropriate carbon tax level will send the price signal for carbon emission and incentivise companies to invest in decarbonisation technologies for long-term competitiveness, harness green growth opportunities through research and development, and develop green products and services."
It is the private sector that is well-placed to create new opportunities for climate action, she added.
Partnerships are also needed to develop new technologies, value chains and business models.
More firms, including smaller ones, have started to focus their efforts on sustainability and environmental, social and governance goals, said Global Initiatives executive director and chief operating officer Shefali Chaddha.
Large corporations are also continuing to advance towards sustainability targets.
"While most large corporations have adapted to more sustainable operations, others are starting to transition their business models to account for sustainability related risks," she added.
"But overall the winners of today are an inspiration to others. After all, we all need to play our part to make the world a better place - and I think we are on our way."