Search

COMMENTARY
ECONOMY | Contributed Content, Singapore
Published: 24 Jun 13
2779 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

LATEST ECONOMY JOBS »
  • No jobs posted on this category.
PRINT ISSUE »

Subscribe Now
What factors are keeping expats rooted in Singapore?

1008 views

What factors are keeping expats rooted in Singapore?

579 views

Can Asian private equity outgrow the west?

248 views

MOST READ EXCLUSIVES

16 items that are a tad cheaper in Singapore than in Hong Kong

16 items that are a tad cheaper in Singapore than in Hong Kong

Coffee lovers need not go farther for a cheaper cup of cappuccino.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
20 Mar 2015 | 99436 views
 

The 10 richest Singaporeans

The 10 richest Singaporeans

Altogether, their total amount of wealth dropped by 20% to US$32.5 billion.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
13 Apr 2015 | 98502 views

Singapore’s 8 hottest 40 and under hotel chefs

Singapore’s 8 hottest 40 and under hotel chefs

Check out and be inspired from their humble beginnings before rising the ranks.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Mar 2015 | 13461 views
 

Chow Tai Fook opens second store in Singapore

Chow Tai Fook opens second store in Singapore

It's a 1,000-square feet new jewellery shop on Orchard Road.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
26 Feb 2015 | 12285 views

This is a woman’s world: CRIB launches Singapore’s first business and lifestyle incubator for women

This is a woman’s world: CRIB launches Singapore’s first business and lifestyle incubator for women

Find out what the three key platforms of CRIB are.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
10 Mar 2015 | 8197 views
 

The New Black hits Singapore with rarest green coffee

The New Black hits Singapore with rarest green coffee

It also boasts of its Impossible Collection curated by the ‘world’s rockstar roasters'.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
5 Mar 2015 | 4818 views

Too many business cards? Why don’t you try Sansan’s business card management service?

Too many business cards? Why don’t you try Sansan’s business card management service?

After Singapore, this contract management company plans to expand in the APAC region.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
12 Feb 2015 | 4432 views
 

Check out this integrated office cum lab of Friesland Campina in Singapore

Check out this integrated office cum lab of Friesland Campina in Singapore

A curved glass wall resulted in a 90% open-plan office.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
17 Feb 2015 | 4396 views

Spencer Ogden gets funky with its newest trademark space in Singapore

Spencer Ogden gets funky with its newest trademark space in Singapore

The company invested over $1M to make this signature office possible.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
5 Feb 2015 | 3514 views
 

Want to be hands-on with your ideal home setting?

Want to be hands-on with your ideal home setting?

Commune is opening an Experience Centre for meticulous homeowners.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
23 Mar 2015 | 2940 views

Office in the sky: How’s having a meeting in the clouds?

Office in the sky: How’s having a meeting in the clouds?

Check out ACL Asia Pacific’s Cumulonimbus, Altostratus and Cirrus rooms.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
1 Apr 2015 | 2801 views
 

Lazada Singapore CEO Martell Hardenberg talks about his “Happy Customer” philosophy

Lazada Singapore CEO Martell Hardenberg talks about his “Happy Customer” philosophy

Find out what other goals the 27-year-old has for the company.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Mar 2015 | 2438 views

Take a look inside INSEAD’s $55m leadership development centre in Singapore

Take a look inside INSEAD’s $55m leadership development centre in Singapore

It marks the fulfillment of a vision too ambitious to achieve 15 years ago.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
1 Apr 2015 | 2347 views
 

LawCanvas saves the day: Easy legal documents in under a minute

LawCanvas saves the day: Easy legal documents in under a minute

The founders revolutionized the legal industry despite having different backgrounds.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
2 Mar 2015 | 2334 views

All the single ladies: Here’s Singapore’s first female-centric dating app for you

All the single ladies: Here’s Singapore’s first female-centric dating app for you

Its female-friendly features help women find serious daters.

by LEE ANNE BABIERRA
20 Apr 2015 | 2322 views
 

PocketMath makes buying mobile ad impressions easier

PocketMath makes buying mobile ad impressions easier

It integrates over 20 ad exchanges and offers over 20B impressions a day.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
9 Feb 2015 | 1785 views

#OnTheContrary campaign reveals the ‘real struggles’ of entrepreneurs

#OnTheContrary campaign reveals the ‘real struggles’ of entrepreneurs

Rags to riches stories are fabulous, but here’s the real deal.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Mar 2015 | 1061 views
 

Find out what it’s like going into business with your in-law

Find out what it’s like going into business with your in-law

A young entrepreneur teamed up with his father-in-law to redefine home entertainment needs.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Mar 2015 | 791 views

What is the future of the sports business in Singapore?

What is the future of the sports business in Singapore?

Can a new billion-dollar stadium give Singapore the edge it needs to compete for world-class sporting events?

by STAFF REPORTER
20 Mar 2015 | 707 views
 

Fragrance Du Bois to launch a new scent this year

Fragrance Du Bois to launch a new scent this year

Also, check out its pop-up boutique at TANGS Orchard open until April 26.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
17 Apr 2015 | 447 views

Megafash sets the stage for local entrepreneurs to introduce indie brands

Megafash sets the stage for local entrepreneurs to introduce indie brands

It plans to expand in Malaysia and Indonesia.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
20 Apr 2015 | 306 views
 
close Don't Show Again

STAY INFORMED! Get our free weekly newsletter