Top honours for CDL, Palo IT at Sustainable Business Awards

Doing well by doing good - this is the philosophy of companies that bagged awards for being sustainable at a ceremony yesterday.

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 key performance indicators on carbon emissions, 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 be part of a global commitment to net-zero carbon buildings this year.

For their efforts, the two firms were named overall winners in separate categories at the Sustainable Business Awards Singapore 2020/2021. Palo IT won in the small and medium-sized enterprises category and CDL won in the large enterprises one.

In total, 24 firms bagged awards.

The ceremony, which took place at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, was organised by Global Initiatives Communications, a Singapore company that uses data science to help firms be more sustainable.

Mr Vincent Desclaux, managing director of Palo IT, 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."

Ms Esther An, chief sustainability officer at CDL, 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 for the last edition in 2019.

The emerging green economy provides opportunities for growth, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, guest of honour at the ceremony. "Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, 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 said, by putting in place schemes to help firms.

"We aim to make our energy and chemicals sector the best in class globally in energy and carbon efficiency," she added.

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," Ms Fu 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," said the minister.

In this vein, having a carbon tax also stimulates the development of Singapore's green economy, she added.

It is the private sector that is well placed to create new opportunities for climate action, she said, adding that partnerships are 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 Ms Shefali Chaddha, executive director and chief operating officer of Global Initiatives.

Large corporations are also continuing to advance their sustainability targets, she added.

Referring to the award winners, she said: "Overall, (they) 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."

Sue-Ann Tan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2021, with the headline Top honours for CDL, Palo IT at Sustainable Business Awards. Subscribe