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Singaporean businesses struggle to meet sustainability targets, report reveals
Tue, 14th Nov 2023

A new report has unearthed the mounting challenges Singaporean businesses face in the area of sustainability. The report, commissioned by Cognizant, a prominent figure in IT services, reveals that only 34% of Singaporean businesses agree they’ve met sustainability targets set over the past two years. The city-state business community appears to be falling behind global standards in the execution of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) procedures, the research uncovers.

The study unearthed significant details regarding sustainability targets, employee knowledge of these targets, and the utilisation of analytic tools among Singaporean firms. Only 40% of Singapore's respondents voiced that they have targets and budgets in place for planned improvements on environmental initiatives. Employee awareness appears to be an area of concern—with a mere 58% of employees claiming to understand their role in the company’s sustainability mission and only 56% of staff aware of ESG efforts. On a positive note, 55% of Singapore respondents believe they have analytic tools to generate insights on areas that require sustainability improvements.

The findings are part of a worldwide study involving 3,000 executives, including 170 from Singapore. The study aims to understand the main hurdles faced by businesses when actioning ESG and highlights gaps in sustainability leadership. According to Constance Ho, Senior Director at Cognizant, "ESG-aligned transformation is essential to foster innovation, and future-proof businesses in an increasingly climate-action aware world. It is no longer just a nice to have but a crucial part of every company’s planning".

Sadly, the belief in the strength of organisational sustainability culture is weak in Singapore. Only 51% of Singaporean professionals feel part of an organisation possessing a strong sustainability culture—significantly lower than the global norm of 66%. To further aggravate the issue, just 48% of the city-state's respondents believe in the authenticity of their company’s sustainability strategy—indicative of the systemic issues surrounding sustainability in the region's corporate setting.

When examining the progress of Singapore's green transformation, only 34% of business leaders agreed that they have achieved their ESG targets over the past two years—this is the lowest amongst all nations surveyed. Plan-wise, only 40% of Singapore’s respondents believe they have targets and budgets in place for planned improvements on environmental initiatives. Impressively, 55% of Singapore respondents believe they have analytic tools to generate insights on areas to develop sustainability.

Constance Ho highlights promising initiatives that might facilitate the sustainability shift. She said, "Whilst the immediate shift to sustainability has been a hard road to pursue for many businesses, the Government has been acting on a number of fronts that could see many metrics shift quickly." She referenced the issuance of SGD$35 billion in ‘green bonds’ as a key government initiative steering the nation's sustainable finance objectives, thereby providing investors increased confidence. Cognizant anticipates a surge of innovation guided by the nation's renewed ESG agenda.

Notably, this study, named the Deep Green report, was commissioned by Cognizant in collaboration with Oxford Economics. It offers a comprehensive review of Singaporean businesses' sustainability leadership compared to 16 regions and 11 industries globally. Drawing on responses from 3,000 executives, including 170 from Singapore, the report scrutinises their sustainability practices, challenges, and outlines a vision for the path ahead.