Singapore, Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – Speaking at the Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development (RBF), Lawrence Wong, Minister of Development for Singapore and 2nd Minister for Finance, gave an urgent call for action for governments, businesses, and consumers in Asia Pacific to come together to tackle the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG’s).
During his opening address, Minister Wong cited that this had been a year of surprises and upheavals but that forums such as RBF were important for bringing government, businesses together to align on goals and that good progress was being made in this regard.
“It’s not only about CSR and donating millions of dollars. All of us have the moral obligation, it’s about aligning business outcomes with the SDGs – my appeal before this forum – businesses must do their part.” said Lawrence Wong
Minister Wong also explained how many countries are facing job losses, high unemployment and that income gaps widening, all of this is fuelling deep discontent with globalization, provoking nationalistic and protectionist sentiments around the world. This has been reflected in the rise of anti-globalization politics, weakness in global trade and decrease in capital mobility, all of which are “very worrying trends”.
This September, Singapore ratified the Paris Climate Agreement along with the EU, USA and China at the UN’s headquarters in New York, thus formally committing itself to reducing carbon emissions. This landmark agreement has entered in full force this month having reached the number of countries required to reduce over 55% of greenhouse gas emissions. Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity, the ratio of carbon emissions to each dollar of the gross domestic product, by 36 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels and pledged to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Initiatives welcomed over 750 business leaders, senior government officials, UN agencies and NGOs for the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development (RBF), at Marina Bay Sands, in Singapore. Focusing on the theme of ‘Innovation and Collaboration to Deliver the Global Goals’ and in collaboration with the UNDP for the very first time, this year’s Responsible Business Forum (RBF) gave delegates the opportunity to examine each of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) in depth with case studies and insights from businesses, governments, UN agencies and international experts.
Major sustainability issues are being tackled at RBF this year, many of which are critical to the Asia Pacific region. These include goals to end poverty and hunger in all its forms, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, tackle climate change, provide better access to quality healthcare, enable education opportunities in rural areas, tackle gender inequality in the workplace, reduce deforestation and haze issues and promote sustainable city development and living, among the many other issues that will be addressed. Underpinning this will be a focus on collaboration, and establishing new partnerships that bring together players from all arenas – public, private and the third sector – and the creation of new policy frameworks to support the SDGs.
Key speakers at RBF this year include; Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, Singapore, Michelle Yeoh, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Sathasivam Subramaniam, Minister of Health, Malaysia, Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary General for UN and Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Aaron Maniam, Director, Industry Division, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore, Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia, Bambang Widianto, Executive Secretary, National Agency for Poverty Reduction, Indonesia, Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive, Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Malaysia, Zhang Tingjun, Executive Director, Mercy Relief, Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer, City Developments Limited, Chia Boon Chong, Associate Director, Group CSR, Singtel, Malcolm Preston, Global Leader for Sustainability at PWC, George Tanasijevich, CEO, Marina Bay Sands Singapore, Andrew Morlet, Chief Executive, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International, Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Officer, Interface, Mark Cliffe, Chief Economist, ING and Peter Wong,President, Dow Asia Pacific among many others.
Over 50 leading corporate brands will present their business cases for SDG integration during the forum, including GlaxoSmithKline, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Huawei, ANZ Bank, Interface, Autodesk, KKR, Dow Chemical, Ericsson, ING Bank, Amcor, DSM, Singtel, APRIL, Syngenta, Microsoft, Panasonic, Ericsson, Visa, Philips, Sodexo, and Facebook, among many others.
This year, RBF sets itself the ambitious target of being Asia’s first Zero Waste to Landfill Zero Emission event, underpinning its commitment to a sustainable economy not only with the issues addressed in the programme but in the logistics of putting the event together. RBF estimates to offset 320 tonnes of carbon dioxide generated by flights and energy use. There will be 100% waste diversion to avoid any waste contribution to landfills. The event will be audited and certified by SACEOS (Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers) and the MICE sustainability certification.
Other initiatives running at this year’s RBF include UN’s project Inspire, a joint initiative from the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard, to help young change-makers create a better world for women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. Project Inspire 2016 will take on the theme of ‘Empowering Women Through Safety and Security’. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate how their ideas harness safety and security concepts to empower women throughout Asia and the Pacific. This year’s finalists include a Singapore team – the project, known as ‘Leaders amoung us’ and led by Kina Hidayah Kastari, will enable female foreign domestic workers in Singapore of diverse backgrounds to undergo 40 weeks of training in order to become para-counsellors. Their project wants to ensure open communication, better mental and emotional health support, safer employment, and reduced risk of abuse and self-harm amongst their peers.