|Ang explains why sustainability is important for Singapore SMEs.|
Sustainability is a competitive advantage for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as they will then be on the same page as larger companies who are their potential customers.
"It is an opportunity to attract a more sophisticated class of investor," explained Wilson Ang, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) during Fuji Xerox DocuWorld in Singapore. "If you want to be their supplier you must catch up."
GCNS is part of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) network, and is tasked with facilitating the progress of companies that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with UNGC’s 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption at the country level.
Environmentally-related trends that affect companies in Singapore include an impending carbon tax, announced in February 2018. The tax of S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions for all facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions in a year from 2019 to 2023 is going to affect businesses downstream, Ang said.
He also noted that green bonds are becoming more popular in Asia. These are loans taken out for green activities, potentially offering business opportunities for SMEs.The government requires the mandatory reporting of packaging data and packaging waste reduction plans by 2021, Ang added. "It's going to affect your business," he said.
GCNS estimates that there US$12 trillion worth of business opportunities in sustainability globally, US$7 trillion of which are in Asia. According to Ang, there is money to be made in making cities more sustainable, for example in providing more affordable housing, introducing new energy resources, or reducing food wastage.
Financing for such ventures are easily available, he said. The Principles for Responsible Investments platform is one that invests in green ventures, and there is Singapore government support for green bonds. In March 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that it would introduce a Green Bond Grant scheme to incentivise the issuance of green bonds.
Read how the 10 principles are related to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
Read the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint (PDF)