The Business Times

Sustainable strategies: Building businesses for the future

Published Tue, Nov 25, 2014 · 09:50 PM
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AT the beginning of November, the United Nations published its latest report on climate change, which makes for sober reading. It warns that unless emissions are dramatically lowered in the next decade, there will be "irreversible change" to the environment. The challenge will now be how businesses across the world react. For every country in the world to put in place legislation on sustainability is neither likely nor feasible, but nearly all economies now accept that long-term growth can come only with sustainable business practices.

Singapore certainly has big ambitions in this area. The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, published five years ago, set a target of 80 per cent of Singaporean buildings certified as green by 2030. Singapore is also aiming for water self-sufficiency by 2060, with 55 per cent of its needs met by recycling, and 25 per cent by seawater desalination. Singapore offers assistance to buildings that specialise in clean technology through the Economic Development Board. Overall, the city-state is in a great place to show leadership on sustainability in the region, so what could this look like?

The last 10 years have shown that the time when small, incremental changes might be enough to make a difference has ended. There was a time when companies might have seen sustainability as a piece of brand positioning or even part of their marketing to differentiate them from competitors. But it is no longer enough for companies looking to survive in the long term to see sustainability as "another thing they do". For example, in the past, sustainable business was seen as "going green".

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