Corporate Citizenship’s Singapore team were in full-force at Unilever’s Four Acres Campus last month, as co-organizers of an inaugural business forum alongside Global Compact Network Singapore and Unilever. The team led conversations centred on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and were joined by more than 80 business leaders and sustainability practitioners as they discussed the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs.
Junice Yeo, Corporate Citizenship’s Director for Southeast Asia, moderated a stellar panel of speakers from City Development Limited, Diageo, Save the Children and Unilever as they discussed the 17 SDGs, also known as the Global Goals. The business leaders spoke of the challenges, opportunities and implications the Goals bring to businesses in Singapore.
The speakers each shared their perspectives of what the goals mean to their respective businesses and how they’ve incorporated the goals alongside their business strategies. David Kiu, VP of Sustainable Business & Communications for Unilever was upfront in their motivations in making sustainable living commonplace. In the sharing of Unilever’s progress in achieving their sustainability targets, Kiu gave a balanced picture of their achievements and challenges and added that “Unilever relies on partnerships with others to mobilise collective action to achieve the SDGs and create system change.”
Head of Corporate Engagement for International NGO Save the Children, Caroline Whatley shared the value of partnerships as part of the SDGs. Save the Children recognizes that only through partnerships can they extend their reach and capabilities far beyond their own organization’s strengths. This was also why Save the Children chose Singapore as the first destination to open its Corporate Engagement Centre for the region.
Georgie Passalaris, Skills and Empowerment Manager at Diageo shared that Diageo’s new 2020 targets development happened in parallel to the SDGs launch. She gave the audience a rare insight into how Diageo understand the impacts of its community and environmental efforts. In rolling out its social impact study with its local development partners, Diageo also recognizes the importance of adapting its monitoring tools in a way that works practically on the ground.
The final speaker of the day was Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited. CDL is proud to have been the first Singaporean company to have mapped out the Global Goals into its own sustainability strategy – linking its targets within a three-pronged strategy – ‘To Conserve as we Construct’. An added that buy-in was the biggest challenge, and that communication is key.
The second part of the event was an engagement initiative initiated by Unilever, facilitated by the Corporate Citizenship team. This format of external engagement, extended to many countries around the world signals the importance in working within new types of collaboration, innovation and partnership needed between business, government and civil society to achieve a ‘zero carbon, zero poverty’ world.
Four topics were chosen for the Singapore audience under this year’s theme ‘Mobilizing Collective Action’. These were ‘Business Case’, ‘New Business Model’, ‘A New Social Contract’ and ‘Civic Society & Consumer Movements’. The four breakout groups gave valuable inputs from a local perspective with practical, action-oriented ideas on how they perceived the role of business in driving change. Many questioned the stance that Singapore needs to factor ‘economic growth at all cost’.
Consumer voice was recognised as a crucial business case for sustainability – be in social or environmental impact. All groups recognize the potential role for businesses, their abilities to influence change among governments and civic society. This brought home a salient point that companies today should not be afraid to take leadership in driving sustainable practices and impactful innovation across the value chains in which their business so very much depends on in the long term.
The team at Corporate Citizenship Singapore would thank our co-organizers, speakers and the audience for having made this event a very successful one.
Read more about the event on Eco-Business: http://www.eco-business.com/news/helping-businesses-see-the-benefits-of-the-sustainable-development-goals/
To speak to one of the team about how we can help you use the SDGs for growth and better business, please get in touch.