World Environment Center Looks to Asia for Eco Action

World Environment Center Looks to Asia for Eco Action

Sustainability experts at this year’s Eco Action Day Panel Discussion – held in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Environment Day – say that achieving real positive impact for the environment has to go beyond simple actions to involve policy change, cross-sector collaboration, mind-set shifts and communicating the business case of sustainability. In Singapore for the event was World Environment Centre chief Terry Yosie from Washington. Read More

Ken Hickson reports:

Special guest at this year’s Eco Action Day in Singapore was Terry Yosie, President and CEO of the World Environment Center (WEC), based in Washington.

While mostly working within America, WEC has offices and activities now in Beijing, China, San Salvador, South America and in Munich, Germany.

He told me that his visit to Singapore has shown him the potential in Asia and how much has already been achieved by environmental organisations.

WEC believes in a collaborative approach to its work, joining forces with business and community organisations to achieve more.

His major responsibilities at home and aboard are “the development and implementation of strategies to advance business solutions for sustainability challenges”.

During his tenure, WEC has developed core competencies in supply chain management, innovation and the preparation of the next generation of sustainability leaders. WEC’s work in these areas have been recognized by the U.S. Department of State, United Nations Environmental Programme and many global stakeholders.

As he has worked in the public sector, in business as well in the non-government space, Terry wants to see greater business involvement in long-term, work for the environment.

His recent engagement with IBM and Ricoh not only highlighted the work of these companies but brought him to Asia to see at first hand was these companies were doing.

For more on the work of WEC around the world and in the US, go to:

Ricoh, for example, has spearheaded the Eco Action Day in Singapore and he was engaged to speak at one of its sessions.

Here’s a report from Singapore on what Eco Action 2015 was all about:

Eco Action Day 2015 celebrates organisations that have implemented sustainability practices in Singapore

Sustainability experts at this year’s Eco Action Day Panel Discussion – held in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Environment Day earlier today – say that achieving real positive impact for the environment has to go beyond simple actions to involve policy change, cross-sector collaboration, mind-set shifts and communicating the business case of sustainability.

In Singapore, the government is looking into further legislative efforts to aid the city-state on its quest to become a zero waste nation, said Ronnie Tay, CEO, National Environment Agency. But while the government can impose rules and regulations on companies to make them comply with environmentally-friendly business practices, a more effective way to realise change is cross-sector collaboration.

One example is e-waste recycling in Singapore – there is no legislation on e-waste recycling yet, but there is a growing number of e-waste recycling programmes offered by businesses. Other initiatives include the Singapore Packaging Agreement, and the Energy Efficiency National Partnership.

“Such initiatives have positive outcomes such as allowing companies to share best practices with one another and recognising companies that are doing well in these areas,” he said.

Ariel Muller, Director, Asia Pacific, Forum for the Future, observed that communicating the need for sustainable business practices is also important in achieving change at scale.

“I often start with: ‘Do you agree that the future is getting more uncertain? Do you agree that there are strategic risks?’ These opening questions are a good way to identify shared risks and opportunities, and getting people on the same page. I think there are multiple solutions and I don’t think they will all thrive. What we can do is to find the ones that work and amplify them.”

Organized by Ricoh Asia Pacific and Eco-Business, this year’s Eco Action Day panel discussion focused on the World Environment Day theme on sustainable consumption and production.

The panel featured distinguished speakers including Ronnie Tay, CEO, National Environment Agency; Ynse de Boer, Managing Director, Strategy and Sustainability Services, Accenture; Ariel Muller,

Director, Asia Pacific, Forum for the Future; Professor Victor Savage, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore; and Vincent Lim, Managing Director, Ricoh Singapore.

The theme is aligned with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Environment Day (WED) message: Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. Aptly, it was also held on WED on 5 June as the highlight of Eco Action Day, Singapore’s largest business-led environmental awareness campaign. The dialogue was attended by 100 people from business, government and civic society leaders.

“The message to small and medium enterprises, by far the largest employers in Singapore, is – there are companies that will purchase if you are advocates of sustainability,” said Vincent Lim, Managing Director, Ricoh Singapore. “I think the key is to start somewhere and hopefully use that – that I’m a sustainable company – you will probably have a better edge.”

In the lead-up to Eco Action Day 2015, 165 companies, 40 schools and 449 individuals pledged to take actions to reduce their resource consumption and environmental impact. Collectively, these pledges have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 42,000 kilograms.

Featuring the slogan “Green the Red Dot, Join the Movement”, the initiative – in its ninth year – aims to mobilize and inspire individuals and organizations in Singapore to pledge eco-actions.

Launched on 8 April, the campaign hopes that by encouraging simple acts such as conserving energy, reducing waste and raising environmental awareness in the office and at home, it will help the wider public ingrain these actions into daily life and make a positive impact on the environment.

To raise awareness of this issue, Eco Action Day organiser Ricoh and its partners disseminated the call to pledge actions through bus advertisements, posters at commercial buildings, online advertising, roadshows and social media, as well as the Eco Action Day website, where businesses and individuals could register their pledges.

Mr. Tetsuya Takano, Managing Director of Ricoh Asia Pacific, said that the company is honoured that senior business, government and civic society leaders in the environment & CSR sectors have chosen to join them to delve deeper into the sustainability issues and share their views on Singapore’s sustainable development.

“The Ricoh Group will proactively work to increase sustainability, thereby achieving the growth of its businesses, boosting its corporate value, and consistently meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.”

In conjunction with Eco Action Day, the Eco Action Day Awards were presented to seven schools and organisations to recognise their efforts in raising awareness of the importance of sustainability.

This year’s Award Winners are:

 Most Creative & Most Fun Eco Award – Crescent Girls’ School

 Most Inspiring Eco Award – Loola Adventure Resort (Bintan)

 Most Inspiring Eco Award (Merit) – Starhub Ltd

 Most Effort Eco Award – Orchid Park Secondary School

 Most Effort Eco Award (Merit) – West Spring Primary School

 Best Eco Practices Award – Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company Pte Ltd

 Best Eco Practices Award (Merit) – Samwoh Corporation

Crescent Girls’ School won the Most Creative & Most Fun Eco Award for actively involving its students in sustainability education by organising a Make-a-Mascot competition at Ang Mo Kio-Bishan Park. Using just recyclable materials and their imagination, the students created various mascots that best represent the idea of sustainability. The school also organised a 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) competition to get students to design creative products out of recyclable materials. “Stars and Crescent: Building Hopes and Dream Together” is also the theme for the school this year.

Loola Adventure Resort nabbed the Most Inspiring Eco Award. The highlights of the resort, located at Bintan, include its specially-designed system to collect rainwater, which is used for toilet flushing and general cleaning; a biological wastewater processing system which improves sanitation in rural villages; and its use of solar power to run all air-conditioners at its villas.

Employees of Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company, winner of the Best Eco Practices Award, have been involved in environmental campaigns organised by government bodies such as NEA and PUB for years. Close to 200 of their employees volunteer regularly in activities such as litter-picking and the company’s “Hot Spot to Bright Spot” Programme has also helped to collect more than 280kg of trash in its immediate environment in a year. The company’s resource saving projects since 2003 has also reduced usage of energy and water by more than 10milllion kWh and 1 million cubic metres respectively.

Eco Action Day partners for 2015 include the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), National Environment Agency (NEA), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Energy Market Authority (EMA), Singapore Environment Council (SEC), Singapore Compact for CSR, Singapore Business Federation, Keppel Land, Keppel Reit, Mapletree Business City, ComfortDelGro, Rice Communications and Eco-Business.

“Sustainable consumption and production does not simply imply consuming or producing lesser goods and services – it is about adopting more efficient and less resource intensive processes. As consumers, we can help by shifting our consumption patterns towards goods that use less energy, water and other resources, and by wasting less food,” said Jessica Cheam, Editor, Eco-Business.

Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, in his World Environment Day message, sums it aptly when he asks: “What the world would be like if each of the seven-billion people made one change towards a more responsible consumption of resources? I would like you to hold on to that vision and strive to make it reality—be it refusing to buy single-use plastic bags or riding a bike to work.”

“World Environment Day is the opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change,” he said.


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