Sustainability and SMEs

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In Singapore, SMEs take up a majority share of the economy. Over 90% of the businesses are SMEs. Back in 2015 The UN developed a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all countries in the aim of curbing poverty, inequalities and climate change worldwide.

The relevance of the SDGs however may be blurry to Singapore SMEs. Some feedback on the friction SMEs feel for SDGs include:

  1. They need government regulation and framework as guidance
  2. Tendency to focus only on sustainability costs rather than opportunities
  3. Time is needed to change consumer’s demands for more sustainable products

Suggestions for improvement in the adoption of SDGs in SME’s business strategies include looking at long-term partnerships and relationships, through factoring in not only finance but social and natural capital. Adopting the SDGs would also enable them to make better decisions based on more holistic considerations such as security of the supply chain and more reliable production. The companies would also need to be more creative and resourceful, equipped with the knowledge and ability to think ahead.

Companies need to up their innovation in greening their businesses, but they also require help from the government, public sector and policy side. Successful transition lies in having a well-developed ecosystem, not piecemeal efforts. Singapore’s recently opened Sustainability Academy between CDL and SEAS serves as as a good role advocate and platform for engagement in sustainability, underscoring the importance of partnership with such entities as NGOs.

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