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2023 Global ESG Forum in Singapore Underscores Biodiversity and ESG Reporting as Key Drivers to Sustainable Development
This is a press release prepared by the National University of Singapore and the organizing committee of the 2023 Global ESG Forum in Singapore.  The 2023 Global ESG Forum in Singapore, co-organised by the APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities) Sustainable Waste management Program, International ESG Association (IESGA), Korea University ESG Research Institute, the Centre for Governance and Sustainability (CGS) of NUS Business School and E2S2, National University of Singapore concluded successfully in Singapore. The event was attended by over 200 participants from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Poland, India, Indonesia, Korea and Malaysia. The forum saw fruitful discussions on important sustainability topics, including sustainable plastic management, consumer-centric ESG practices, circular economy, voluntary carbon markets (VCMs), net-zero initiatives, and renewable energy. Biodiversity and Nature Positive Reporting as the New ESG Commitment The forum noted a two-fold increase, from 16 in 2019 to 37 in 2021, in the number of companies reporting biodiversity and nature-positive practices, according to the “Biodiversity and Nature Positive Ranking of the Top 200 Korean Companies. In addition, 15 companies in 2021, compared to only 6 in 2019, considered biodiversity as a material issue. This reflected a significant shift in focus on biodiversity as a key indicator of sustainability reporting in Korea. It also reinforced the growing importance of biodiversity in sustainable development.    As such, IESGA and CGS of NUS Business School will be establishing an ESG advisory team dedicated to biodiversity assessment at a global level. This initiative aims to provide comprehensive insights into the global ranking of companies in terms of biodiversity. The report is aimed for release in November 2023. Study Reveals the Critical Gaps Remain in ESG Reporting According to the latest joint study by CGS of NUS Business School and PwC which analysed the sustainability reports of top 50 listed companies in 14 Asia Pacific jurisdictions, there are crucial reporting and disclosure gaps prevalent in business practices. Although the majority of companies (92%) in the examined jurisdictions excel in disclosing ESG targets, only 51% disclosed net zero targets, and a mere 42% aligned their net zero targets with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) framework. The study also emphasized the need for heightened efforts in measuring Scope 3 emissions, as less than 50% of companies disclose these indirect emissions originating from their value chain. This is amid an encouraging sign showing 80% of companies disclosing their Scope 1 (direct emissions from a company) and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (indirect emissions from purchased and used electricity). Prof. Lawrence Loh, Director of CGS at NUS Business School said, “The 2023 Global ESG Forum endorses the criticality of considering nature and biodiversity by businesses. Going forward, stakeholders should realize that climate change actions, in themselves, are only the means – the end outcomes are really to perpetuate nature and biodiversity. Enhancing human lives should be the core emphasis of sustainability.” The 2023 Global ESG Forum marks the implementation of the MOU signed in 2022 between CGS, NUS Business School, and IESGA. This agreement demonstrates the joint commitment to promoting knowledge on incorporating ESG considerations in business operations. Prof. Jay Hyuk Rhee, the President of the IESGA, mentioned, “Singapore is demonstrating excellent leadership through collaboration with international organizations in various fields related to sustainable management.” He explained the reason for hosting this year’s ESG Forum in Singapore. Prof. Yong Sik Ok, the President of the IESGA, and the Chair and Program Director of the APRU Sustainable Waste Management Program, emphasized that the Singaporean government is encouraging companies to focus on ESG management through various forms of support and incentives. There will be a follow-up ESG event on 28-30 November 2023 in Seoul, where top ESG scholars and experts from the Stanford University, National University of Singapore Business School and the University of Oxford as well as the Secretary General of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), will be present to discuss about nature positive business.   Front from left: Prof. Lawrence Loh (Business School, NUS), Dr. Amy Khor (Senior Minister of State for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, Singapore), Prof. Jay Hyuk Rhee (President IESGA). Back from left: Prof. Yong Sik Ok (President IESGA), Prof. Shawn Cole (Harvard Business School, USA), Prof. Sungyeon Hwang (Director IESGA), and Prof. Yen Wah Tong (Director CREATE, NUS).   About APRU SWM Program The APRU Sustainable Waste Management Program hosted by Korea University offers a timely opportunity for knowledge exchange among professionals from all over the world to assist in the formulation of an efficient sustainable management agenda for biological waste and remediation of soil, water and air in the local context, which satisfies the environmental compatibility, financial feasibility and social needs. It will deliberate on state-of-the-art treatment technologies, advanced management strategies, and political issues pertaining to the recycling and recovery of organic waste. Moreover, local and overseas experts from different sectors including academic researchers, industrial practitioners, green groups, and government departments will be gathered in this program to solicit scientific and technical inputs as well as political feedback, facilitating the development of integrated solutions. Experienced industrial practitioners, professional organizations, green groups, as well as government officers are invited to the conference. Find out more about the 2023 Global ESG Forum in Singapore. About International ESG Association (IESGA) The IESGA aims to improve information creation and sharing about ESG management through linking businesses with academics, from different fields of expertise, whose research findings can help predict future directions for ESG practices. These predictions aim to give corporations a head-start to incorporate the latest and most relevant ESG practices into their business structures. This not only helps to protect the environment and improve business sustainability, but also encourages ethically conscious investors to take notice. The IESGA presently mainly advises corporations in South Korea, but will soon expand its consultancy services worldwide, especially to companies in developing economies. In addition to its consultancy services, the IESGA launched the Global ESG Lecture Series in collaboration with major South Korean academic societies and industries. Monthly events have been held on topics such as the relevance of ESG scores for attracting investors, and how companies can integrate ESG performance measurement to develop sustainable supply chains. The IESGA collaborated with Nature Conferences and LG Energy Solutions to hold a hybrid event on waste management and valorisation, attracting more than 2,000 attendees from 97 countries. In August 2022, the association held its first Global ESG Forum in South Korea with a focus on sustainability through ESG. More than 1,000 participants from 55 countries attended. President Jay Hyuk Rhee and Yong Sik Ok also offer two MBA courses in South Korea and internationally, in conjunction with the IESGA, on business and environment, and sustainability in ESG management. These courses target students eager to find business opportunities associated with ESG practices.  About Centre for Governance and Sustainability (CGS) The Centre for Governance and Sustainability (CGS) was established by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School in 2010. It aims to spearhead relevant and high-impact research on corporate governance and corporate sustainability issues that are pertinent to institutions, government bodies and businesses in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific. Spearheading thought leadership, CGS conducts public lectures, industry roundtables, and academic conferences on topics related to governance and sustainability. CGS is the national assessor for the corporate sustainability and corporate governance performance of listed companies in Singapore. In tandem with growing demands from consumers and investors that financial returns are achieved with integrity, backed with environmental and social considerations, CGS has a slew of research focusing on sustainability reporting in Asia Pacific, sustainable banking, nature reporting, and climate reporting in ASEAN. More information about CGS can be accessed at https://bschool.nus.edu.sg/cgs/ NUS Business School is known for providing management thought leadership from an Asian perspective, enabling its students and corporate partners to leverage global knowledge and Asian insights. The School is one of the 16 faculties and schools at NUS. A leading global university centred in Asia, NUS is Singapore’s flagship university which offers a global approach to education, research and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 40,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.
July 27, 2023