Search

COMMENTARY
ECONOMY | Contributed Content, Singapore
Published: 24 Jun 13
2618 views


Bhavani Prakash

What Singapore firms can learn from the haze hazard

BY BHAVANI PRAKASH

The haze that has engulfed Singapore and Malaysia over the last several days has become a very visible reminder that environment and economics are inextricably intertwined.

Environmental destruction as a result of burning rainforests in a neighbouring country can have huge economic impact on businesses in Singapore, by way of employee health costs, absenteeism, loss of productivity, loss of revenue and in some cases, loss of reputation.

In response to the haze, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Press Conference on 20th June 2013, said “if any Singapore companies are involved, or any companies present in Singapore are involved, then we will take up this matter with the companies.”

Indonesia has so far indicated that eight companies, including Singapore-based Sinar Mas and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) are responsible for the fires. Though the evidence is yet to be confirmed, it is hoped that some action will be taken against errant companies.

Half the fire hotspots this year, according to Greenpeace International, are in areas that should have been protected by Indonesia’s forest moratorium. These include primary rainforests and peatlands, the clearing of which could lead to significant loss of biodiversity and increase in carbon emissions, both of which will also entail long term costs for Singapore businesses, by way of resource losses and climate change.

It’s easy to think that the underlying problem due to lack of governance in granting permits by the Indonesian government, is ‘out there’ and ‘beyond our control’. The haze, however, is not only about companies which have directly invested in plantations that are causing fires.

Every company that in some way uses paperor palm oil, directly or indirectly in the products it makes or trades in, bears a responsibility for the haze, because it is the collective demand for paper and palm oil that leads to rainforest destruction.

What can companies do?
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has “called upon companies who buy palm oil to use only certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), whether they produce it or purchase it.” The CSPO process is not 100% failsafe, but it is the only one in the industry to come anything close to certifying that palm oil comes from sustainable sources.

WWF also calls upon financial institutions to invest only in companies that operate in an environmentally sustainable way.

Taking cue from Walmart’s initiatives in the US, which is enforcing strict third party standards, retailers in Singapore can also take measures to only stock brands and products whose ingredients come from sustainable sources.

What can consumers do?
Small steps can make a huge cumulative impact. Use less paperas an individual or corporate consumer. Print only when absolutely necessary. A simple act such as printing double-sided can reduce paper usage in half.

Use paper that comes from sustainable plantations, with certifications such as those of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paying slightly more for a sustainable product doesn’t necessarily weigh more on the budget, if usage is reduced.

Palm oil is trickier as it is such an ubiquitous ingredient that is found in so many products under the guise of names that arequite hard to decipher. Nevertheless, as consumers we can read labels and purchase those products that indicate they have certified palm oil that does not destroy rainforests.

This effort is critical to make sure we don’t get a repeat of the haze. The haze has taught us that our breaths are connected withthose of trees hundreds of miles away.

It has also reminded us that Nature, economics and the collective wellbeing of both current and future generations, are deeply interlinked in ways that we can’t afford to ignore. It is necessary for all of us in the societal ecosystem to act - as individuals, as civil society organisations and as corporate players - to do our bit to avoid rainforest destruction and the haze.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

Bhavani Prakash

Bhavani Prakash

Bhavani Prakash is a speaker, trainer, facilitator, and writer engaging with individuals and companies around sustainability, emotional intelligence, and positive psychology. She has presented at both TEDxSingapore and TEDxSingaporeWomen and in a multitude of forums and organisations. She founded and runs the green jobs portal Green Collar Asia as well as the non-profit website Eco WALK the Talk.

Contact Information



Sign up for our newsletter

 

Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.

Click here to learn about advertising, content sponsorship, events & rountables, custom media solutions, whitepaper writing, sales leads or eDM opportunities with us.

To get a media kit and information on advertising or sponsoring click here.

Tags: Singapore haze, CSPO prices, Forest Stewardship Council

CO-WRITTEN ARTICLES & SPONSOR CONTENT ››

The leading Philippine residential developer unveils its most upscale township yet.
222 views

Find out what it has impressively accomplished.
421 views

LATEST ECONOMY JOBS »
PRINT ISSUE »

Subscribe Now
Trains, planes, automobiles and drones

167 views

As goes Hong Kong, so goes Singapore?

1480 views

Office property shows no signs of a slowdown

413 views

MOST READ EXCLUSIVES

Singapore’s 20 most influential 40 and under lawyers

Singapore’s 20 most influential 40 and under lawyers

Check out who made our cut.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
15 Aug 2014 | 169998 views
 

13 most exclusive credit cards in Singapore

13 most exclusive credit cards in Singapore

Some of which you’ve probably not heard of.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Aug 2014 | 99788 views

Singapore's 12 most influential business professors under 40

Singapore\'s 12 most influential business professors under 40

The youngest is aged 34.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
23 Oct 2014 | 42445 views
 

11 craziest credit card purchases in Singapore

11 craziest credit card purchases in Singapore

Find out if each is worth the outlay.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
22 Sep 2014 | 40205 views

Singapore’s 7 hot new restaurants in September

Singapore’s 7 hot new restaurants in September

Have you checked out a very secretive cafe at 48 ¾ Niven Road?

by KRISANA GALLEZO
6 Oct 2014 | 22682 views
 

Singapore's 8 hot new restaurants in July

Singapore\'s 8 hot new restaurants in July

More Singapore openings from famous restaurants in Asia.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
4 Aug 2014 | 21970 views

20 most preferred hotels of Singapore travelers in Asia

20 most preferred hotels of Singapore travelers in Asia

Hotels in Thailand dominate the list.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
12 Aug 2014 | 21574 views
 

Singapore’s 8 hotels coming your way next year

Singapore’s 8 hotels coming your way next year

A total of 3,458 hotel rooms will soon be available.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
8 Sep 2014 | 20119 views

Singapore’s 8 hot new restaurants in August

Singapore’s 8 hot new restaurants in August

Get a taste of an aromatic broken rice dish without MSG.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
4 Sep 2014 | 11561 views
 

Have you been to The Providore Warehouse yet?

Have you been to The Providore Warehouse yet?

Check out some photos inside.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
1 Sep 2014 | 10462 views

Check out General Motors’ new HQ in Singapore

Check out General Motors’ new HQ in Singapore

A ‘hot desks’ rule is implemented in the new office.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
3 Oct 2014 | 10400 views
 

Awesome workplace at 501: How's having a meeting while cuddling a teddy bear?

Awesome workplace at 501: How\'s having a meeting while cuddling a teddy bear?

Also check artistically designed in-house locations for video shoots.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
6 Aug 2014 | 10039 views

Singapore’s 10 favorite meals on wheels

Singapore’s 10 favorite meals on wheels

You better cut the pizza: An Italian dish bagged the number 1 spot.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
17 Oct 2014 | 8897 views
 

Have spare time before boarding? Dine in at Old Chang Kee’s first Changi Airport outlet

Have spare time before boarding? Dine in at Old Chang Kee’s first Changi Airport outlet

The new outlet’s construction cost more than half a million dollars.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
11 Sep 2014 | 5660 views

5 craziest things you can't imagine founders would do to make their startup successful

5 craziest things you can\'t imagine founders would do to make their startup successful

Will you jump out of the plane flying at over 15K ft  just to catch a potential client?

by KRISANA GALLEZO
3 Sep 2014 | 5380 views
 

Three best buddies in their 30s set up 6 Prawns and a Beer

Three best buddies in their 30s set up 6 Prawns and a Beer

Here’s a new food hub at Bukit Timah to enjoy a well-loved seafood with beer.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
12 Aug 2014 | 4508 views

The wait is over: Japanese restaurant chain ON-YASAI finally hits Singapore

The wait is over: Japanese restaurant chain ON-YASAI finally hits Singapore

10 to 15 more outlets coming over the next 5 years.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
28 Aug 2014 | 4438 views
 

Get ready to work and play at Spotify’s regional office

Get ready to work and play at Spotify’s regional office

All the furniture except the bean bags were imported from Sweden.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
23 Sep 2014 | 4379 views

Opera Estate welcomes a little bar simply called ‘Slake’

Opera Estate welcomes a little bar simply called ‘Slake’

It wants to be your living/dining room outside of home.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
25 Sep 2014 | 3742 views
 

These NUS students boldly suggest removal of Malaysian Airlines' CEO to survive

These NUS students boldly suggest removal of Malaysian Airlines\' CEO to survive

That's just one part of the strategy.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
16 Sep 2014 | 3101 views

No boys allowed: Here’s a coworking space designed for women only

No boys allowed: Here’s a coworking space designed for women only

The office space can be transformed to a large event venue for social nights.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
14 Aug 2014 | 3052 views
 

Will you take up the challenge to live on $5 a day and share the experience?

Will you take up the challenge to live on $5 a day and share the experience?

This campaign already generated over 8,000 followers on Facebook.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
23 Sep 2014 | 2531 views

Could this be the most intelligent phonebook app yet?

Could this be the most intelligent phonebook app yet?

It’s self-updating and removes duplicates for worry-free contacts storage.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
29 Sep 2014 | 2526 views
 

Worry about your loved ones’ whereabouts no more

Worry about your loved ones’ whereabouts no more

Folr introduces a real-time geo-location tracking mobile app that also details where they were.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
5 Sep 2014 | 2519 views

Arete Culture opens first store in Lam Soon Building

Arete Culture opens first store in Lam Soon Building

It's a one-stop shop for your quirky interior decors.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
24 Sep 2014 | 2514 views
 

Have money but don’t know what to do? Call DrWealth

Have money but don’t know what to do? Call DrWealth

It creates Asia’s first online financial planning platform for the masses.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
12 Aug 2014 | 2492 views

Want to know a ‘smart’ way to have your clothes washed?

Want to know a ‘smart’ way to have your clothes washed?

My Laundry Box introduces a smart laundry locker platform that works with an app.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
17 Oct 2014 | 2436 views
 

Orchard Gateway welcomes the second outlet of Outback Steakhouse

Orchard Gateway welcomes the second outlet of Outback Steakhouse

The store construction costs US$1.5million.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
21 Aug 2014 | 1977 views

Noël Caleb Concept Store opens September 29

Noël Caleb Concept Store opens September 29

It targets women wanting to wear designs not found anywhere in the world.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
10 Sep 2014 | 1793 views
 

Sofitel in Sentosa launches world's largest So SPA

Sofitel in Sentosa launches world\'s largest So SPA

Future plans are finally revealed.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
22 Oct 2014 | 1738 views
close Don't Show Again

STAY INFORMED! Get our free weekly newsletter