Sustainability

Discover how easy it is to hold a green event following thorough sustainable city planning in Singapore.

Overview

For People and Planet To Profit

Credit: Marina Bay Sands

As the global conversation around sustainability grows, event organisers across the globe have rallied to do their part. The 2018 Schneider Electric Global Innovation Summit held in Singapore, was the largest green event held locally – one free from single-use materials like paper or plastic, and with a fully sustainable, Earth-friendly menu1. Finally, travel trade show ITB Asia 2014 also managed to achieve a 34 percent reduction in its overall carbon footprint by implementing waste and energy-saving measures.2    

These examples show how it is possible for both people and planet to profit as events increasingly go paperless, reduce food wastage, or set up in eco-friendly central locations. Yet for success in this arena, it is important to find the right choice of destination partner.

 

Singapore’s Commitment to Sustainability

Singapore has always prioritised sustainability and placed it at the forefront of its long-term plan. In 2009, we launched the first Sustainable Singapore Blueprint to continuously outline strategies that will improve our green footprint by year 2030. Green measures are now woven into the infrastructure of the economy, with emphasis placed on reducing waste and increasing the use of renewable energy sources like solar power. Businesses are also rewarded for sustainable business practices as the government ramps up efforts to create a green economy with green jobs3.

This has led to global recognition for our sustainability efforts: 

Key stats: 

Sustainable design reduced environmental footprint reduced by

8.9%4
3 Singapore firms

on the 2021 Global 100 Rankings for Most Sustainable Companies5

Recognitions:

Green Port for 3 consecutive years
Awarded to Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Port Services Network (APSN)6

2019 Apex Corporate Sustainability Award Awarded to Changi Airport7

Level 3 of the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme Awarded to Changi Airport8

Commitment has remained high over the years as we step up efforts in tandem with the global conversation. Sustainability is a key area in the Research Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan budget, a five-year blueprint outlining Singapore’s science and technology strategies. 

In 2021, the government also launched the Green Plan, outlining a focus on six pillars — a green government, a city in nature, sustainable living, energy reset, a green economy and a resilient future9 —, and green targets to be achieved by year 2030.   

New initiatives include goals to double electric vehicle charging points, reduce carbon waste by 30 percent by 2026, and to review carbon tax so that only the best-in-class carbon-intensive investments enter the country. Plans are also in place to transform Jurong Island into a sustainable energy hub, as well as for greater emphasis on sustainable tourism, sustainable packaging, decarbonisation, waste up cycling urban farming and water treatment.10

An Infrastructure for Green Events

Credit: Oasia Hotel Downtown

The effects have trickled down to the events sphere, giving event organisers plenty of support when embarking on their sustainability journey. 


In 2013, for example, the Singapore Tourism Board launched sustainability guidelines that build on the ISO 20121 International Standard for Event Sustainability Management and the APEX-ASTM Environmental Sustainability Standards for Events11.

These guidelines cover the entire business events ecosystem, from hotels and venues to event organisers and meeting planners. It even includes transportation, food and beverage, and audio-visual set-up providers. Basic and intermediate options are available so businesses at different stages of the sustainability journey will not be left out.

For businesses that lack the resources needed, there is also the MSC MICE Certification designed to help SMEs achieve recognition for sustainability efforts12.

Event venues, too, are doing their part. Resorts World Singapore has removed single-use plastics across its establishments13 while MBS has become the country's first carbon-neutral venue14. Specialised business event spaces like MICE facility, MAX Atria, have received the Building & Construction Authority Green Mark Platinum standard for its eco-friendly building design.

Finally, to ensure event organisers reach their sustainability goals, hotels like MBS offer special Green Meeting Packages that include a specialised Green Meeting Concierge to help with planning15. Local SMEs like event organisers, Xhebit, have also come on board offering green event organising teams16

 

A Desirable Destination To Meet for Business

For the eco-conscious business delegate, Singapore's commitment and the number of green venues provide assurance that attending an event in our country offers a myriad of ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Besides traversing across the island in electric vehicles, and meeting in the growing number of Green Mark certified buildings across the country, they can also reside more sustainably, thanks to the sheer number of green hotels catering to different budgets.

For example, larger hotel chains like Pan Pacific Singapore have renovated its existing establishments to include eco-friendly design features that reduce electricity usage17. Local brands like Oasia Hotel Downtown now features a massive vertical garden that both reintroduces biodiversity and reduces temperature in the building18, while Carlton Hotel Singapore managed to lower both water and energy consumption with its sustainability measures19.

Driving Interest in Green Events

Overall, interest in sustainability is high, and Singapore is already home to various sustainability events, including but not limited to:

Ecosperity Week

An annual confluence of events anchored by the Ecosperity Conference organised by Temasek, that brings together global business leaders, policy-makers, investors and other communities across the region to discuss pertinent trends in sustainability. In 2021, discussions are focused on decarbonisation and climate action, reimagining nature and resources, and sustainable investing and financing.

Sustainability Reporting Summit

Asia’s top regional conference organised by CSRWorks International. The summit is dedicated to discussing trends, techniques, challenges, solutions and success stories in sustainability reporting.

Credit: Temasek

The renewed focus on a green economy and the green growth opportunities that come with it, indicate potential for more events and conferences in this area, especially revolving around the topics of sustainable tourism, carbon services and green finance.

Besides support in holding green events and finding an eager audience, event organisers may also benefit from avenues to network and collaborate with experts as Singapore leads the way to a greener future for us all.

 

Footnotes

1https://www.marinabaysands.com/expo-events-and-convention-centre/game-changer/sustainable-food.html

2https://www.travelweekly-asia.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/ITB-Asia-exceeds-its-sustainability-targets

3https://www.nccs.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/ssb-2015-(2016-version).pdf

4https://www.arcadis.com/en/news/asia/2020/6/arcadis-singapore-is-now-carbon-neutral

5https://sbr.com.sg/economy/news/three-singapore-firms-named-worlds-most-sustainable-companies-list

6https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/media-centre/news-releases/detail/18b5b5db-3495-46a7-b1e3-7ad2b36ff490>

7
https://apexawards.unglobalcompact.sg/past-winners/


8https://www.changiairport.com/content/dam/cacorp/media-centre/6.2%20Resources/CAG-Sustainability%20Report%20FY1920.pdf

9https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/

10https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-green-plan-2030-targets-10-years-14161356

11https://www.visitsingapore.com/content/dam/MICE/Global/downloads/STB_sustainability_guidelines_manual_november_2013.pdf

12https://www.saceos.org.sg/article/PULIq

13https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/resorts-world-sentosa-no-longer-provides-single-use-plastic-straws-at

14https://www.marinabaysands.com/content/dam/singapore/marinabaysands/master/main/home/company-information/media-centre/Sep2020/sands-expo-and-convention-centre-is-now-a-carbon-neutral-venue-8-sep.pdf

15https://ko.marinabaysands.com/content/dam/singapore/marinabaysands/master/main/home/meetings/amenities-services/green-meetings/Marina-Bay-Sands-Green-Meetings.pdf

16
https://www.xhebit.com/


17https://www.meetings-conventions-asia.com/News/Hotels-and-Resorts/Pan-Pacific-puts-its-green-thumb-on-new-eco-friendly-brand

18http://greenhvacrmag.com/2018/oasia-hotel/

19https://www.carltoncity.sg/sites/carltoncity/files/2019-09/Press%20Release%20-%20Pushing%20the%20Green%20Envelope%20at%20CCHS%202019.pdf

Green Venues

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Green Specialists

MCI Global

MCI is a worldwide events and meetings organiser with a strong track record in driving sustainable events and standards for the MICE industry.

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Greenview Hospitality

Greenview is a sustainability consultancy that focuses on sustainability reporting and measurement within the hospitality industry.

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Sustain Ability Showcase Consultancy Asia

A leading Singapore-based sustainability consultancy that introduces, manages and promotes sustainability measures and services for events and businesses.

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HOST A SUSTAINABLE EVENT

As climate change has taken centre stage in global conversations, Singapore stands as an eco-friendly tourist and business events destination. Here, planners can readily put together events with sustainability at the core.

Travel green to and within Singapore

Transportation accounts for 21% of global carbon emissions and is the largest emitting sector in many developed countries1. Planning for sustainable events must therefore start even before delegates reach tradeshow floors and meeting venues.

National airline Singapore Airlines (SIA) and its low-cost subsidiary Scoot, which together connect more than 130 destinations around the world2, are doing their part to go green. By the third quarter of 2022, all SIA and Scoot flights out of Changi Airport will use a blend of refined jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel, reducing CO2 emissions by about 2,500 tonnes annually3. SIA also offers a programme for passengers to offset carbon emissions from their flights by supporting environmental projects in India, Indonesia and Nepal4.

Resource efficiency and conservation principles are at work throughout Singapore’s Changi Airport5. During the day, natural light fills the buildings with the self-adjustable skylights and reflector panels on the roof, while jet diffusers strategically placed around the departure halls help distribute cool air near occupied zones. In recognition of these sustainable design elements and more, all Changi Airport terminals have been certified with Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark (Gold)6 and above.

Upon leaving the airport, delegates can easily make it to venues and other meetings by utilising Singapore’s reliable and interconnected public transport system. Event planners can make travel via public transport even more seamless by providing NETS FlashPay Cards customised with event branding. These cards for digital payments can be purchased in bulk through the Singapore MICE Advantage Programme and used for up to seven years.

Point-to-point transportation in Singapore is also eco-friendly with ride hailing service Grab enabling passengers to make contributions to solarisation projects when booking rides7. For those that require private transport, car-sharing services are widely available throughout the island with providers such as GetGo, BlueSG and Car Club8.

Looking forward, Singapore will continue to reduce emissions from transport. By 2030, half of the city's public buses and public taxis will be electric, and by 2040, all the city's public buses will transition off diesel and run on cleaner energy9.

 

Consider energy consumption and efficiency

According to the 2021 edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan, 80% of Singapore's buildings will be certified green by 203010. Yet, even today, event planners are already spoilt for choice when choosing among green venues in Singapore, many of which have a focus on energy efficiency.

Among these venues is Marina Bay Sands (MBS), which between 2012 and 2020 managed to cut its carbon footprint by nearly 50%11. MBS has long been recognised internationally for its commitment to environmental protection and sustainable event planning. In 2014, guided by its SANDS360° global sustainability strategy, it became the first MICE facility in Southeast Asia to receive the ISO20121 Sustainable Events Management System certification12. It is also the first MICE venue in Asia Pacific to garner LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Green Building Certification and in 2020, became Singapore's first carbon neutral MICE venue, supporting the city's green energy targets through investments in Renewable Energy Certificates13.

 

Introduce sustainable catering and minimise food waste

Photo Credit: Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford

Many business meetings take place over meals, and Singapore is a foodie's paradise offering countless choices for business and networking meals. Nevertheless, food waste remains a critical issue for the MICE sector. To help solve this challenge, Singapore is updating legislation to require large commercial and industrial food waste generators such as hotels and developments housing food caterers to segregate their food waste and allocate space for on-site food waste treatment from 2024 onwards14. Likewise, MICE venues in the country are providing more options for sustainable catering menus.

Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford are prime examples of MICE venues that have taken significant steps towards sustainable food preparation and waste management. They recycle food waste using an Eco-Wiz Dry System Model DV1000 machine which can process 100 kg of raw vegetable scraps and peelings daily, with the compost later used as fertiliser in their shared herb garden15. They also launched the industry's first urban aquaponics farm in 201916, a 450-square-metre space designed to allow fish and vegetables to grow together in an integrated system and supply vegetables and fresh fish for the two hotels. Event planners can request for catering menus to feature produce from this garden.

 

Reduce paper and plastic waste

Paper and plastic make up more than a third of waste generated at events17, and many event planners in Singapore have done one or more of the following to significantly reduce this type of waste:

  • Conduct registrations via QR codes or through online event ticketing applications like Eventbrite, Peatix and SISTIC.
  • Implement 'Bring-Your-Own' initiatives for reusable bottles, containers, cutlery or stationery.
  • Engage sustainable vendors like Triple Eyelids which upcycles industrial waste into furnishing for event spaces18 and XCEL Industrial which provides reconditioned wood pallets for event logistics19.

Singapore MICE venues have also made paper and plastic waste reduction a significant part of their operations. For instance, Resort World Sentosa (RWS) has stopped using single-use plastic straws, water bottles and tableware not just at MICE events but also in all its themed attractions, hotels and dining establishments, saving more than 100 tonnes of plastic every year20. In 2021, RWS also introduced Eco-MICE packages for sustainable events, which include serving meals in sustainable packaging and providing reusable pens and recycled paper at events. Affirming the integrated resort's ongoing sustainability journey, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council has honoured RWS with its Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria for Hotels certifications.

 

Book rooms at eco-friendly hotels

Many hotels in Singapore have incorporated sustainable measures that go beyond planting a few extra trees on its compounds. Delegates can unwind in these lush spaces equipped with the latest green technologies.

Case in point: the two PARKROYAL COLLECTION properties by the Pan Pacific Hotels Group are testament to how nature can be seamlessly woven into hotel design. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is Singapore's first garden-in-a-hotel and is home to one of Southeast Asia's largest indoor atriums that also function as natural air purifiers21. With its solar panels and double-glazed glass ceilings, the hotel reduces energy consumption by an estimated 160,000 kwh a year. Its sister hotel PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering boasts 15,000 square metres of sky-gardens, reflecting pools, waterfalls, planter terraces and cascading vertical greenery22. All in all, foliage constitutes more than 200% of the property's total land area - a scale unprecedented in a built-up city centre.

 

Explore the City in Nature

When networking sessions and meetings are done, planners should encourage delegates to explore the wide variety of flora and fauna in Singapore and discover how the country earned its moniker “City in a Garden”.

At Pulau Ubin, visitors can take part in Amazing Races and kayaking challenges while learning about the rich ecosystem of the island accessible via a 15-minute ferry ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Available tours include the ‘Chek Jawa Guided Tour’ and ‘Kampong Tour at Pulau Ubin’ by NParks, as well as ones organised by private operators including Let’s Go Tour and Bike Around Tour.

Back on the main island, on the north-western corner of Singapore, sits Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Through free guided walks held there every weekend, visitors can get the chance to glimpse resident wildlife like otters and estuarine crocodiles23. Sungei Buloh is also a must-visit for budding ornithologists, as Singapore is part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, the world’s largest flyway stretching from Alaska to Australia and New Zealand24.

For those who need a quick respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a stone’s throw away from the Central Business District. Spanning 74 hectares, it is the first and only tropical botanic gardens on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list and has something for everyone including an Ethnobotany Garden where visitors can learn about plants used by indigenous cultures in Southeast Asia25.

With Singapore planning to add 1,000 hectares of green spaces by 2035, including 130 hectares of new parks by 202626, visitors can expect even more options to get in touch with nature when they visit in the coming years.

 

Create a legacy of good

Today, companies are expected to act as agents of change, and Singapore provides event planners many options and potential partners to build itineraries that demonstrate social purpose - blending doing good with having fun.

For example, Project Dignity offers sponsored trainings and work placements for people with special needs and work placements in the F&B, hospitality and retail sectors. Through programmes like 'Hawker For A Day' and 'Cook, Bake & Makan', volunteers can work together to prepare meals for the elderly or learn sign language skills.

Sentosa has its Marine ConservAction programme where groups can clean the island's shorelines27. The programme, suitable not just for corporate teams but even for families with young kids, also teaches participants about marine life around Sentosa and how trash is processed in Singapore.

For those seeking an unconventional yet refreshing experience, Ground-Up Initiative offers CSR activities and team learning journeys in a rustic kampung environment. Corporates can get involved in the 'Food with Love' programme, where participants plant new crops and harvest produce for delivery to a community kitchen of choice28.

 

Footnotes

1https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/global-transport-carbon-emissions-decarbonise/

2https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/us/plan-travel/destinations/where-we-fly/

3https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/all-sia-scoot-flights-from-changi-to-use-sustainable-aviation-fuel-from-q3-2022-in-1-year-trial

4https://www.singaporeair.com/nl_NL/nl/media-centre/press-release/article/?q=en_UK/2021/April-June/jr0521-210625

5https://www.changiairport.com/corporate/sustainability/sustainable-changi.html#s6

6https://www1.bca.gov.sg/buildsg/bca-awards/bca-green-mark-awards

7https://www.grab.com/sg/press/others/grab-singapore-announces-transport-sustainability-goal-as-part-of-its-grabforgood-initiative-aims-for-a-full-fleet-running-on-cleaner-energy-by-2030/

8https://getgo.sg/, https://www.bluesg.com.sg/, https://www.carclub.com.sg/

9https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/newsroom/2022/3/news-releases/reducing-peak-land-transport-emissions-by-80-.html

10https://www.mnd.gov.sg/our-work/greening-our-home/singapore-green-building-masterplan

11https://www.marinabaysands.com/content/dam/singapore/marinabaysands/master/main/home/company-information/environmental-sustainability/mbs-2020-responsible-business-highlights.pdf

12https://www.marinabaysands.com/content/dam/singapore/marinabaysands/master/main/home/company-information/media-centre/february/Marina%20Bay%20Sands%20is%20Singapore's%20first%20ISO%2020121%20certified%20venue_26%20Feb%202014.pdf

13https://www.marinabaysands.com/content/dam/singapore/marinabaysands/master/main/home/company-information/media-centre/Sep2020/sands-expo-and-convention-centre-is-now-a-carbon-neutral-venue-8-sep.pdf

14https://www.towardszerowaste.gov.sg/foodwaste/#govt

15https://www.lifestyleasia.com/sg/food-drink/dining/going-green-how-hotels-and-restaurants-manage-food-waste-in-singapore/

16https://www.fairmont-singapore.com/blog/fairmont-singapore-debuts-urban-aquaponics-farm/

17https://plastic-action.asia/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/WWF-Guide-to-Zero-Waste-Events.pdf

18https://www.tripleeyelid.com/pages/about, https://www.creuse.sg/

19http://www.xcelindustrial.com/

20https://www.rwsentosa.com/en/sustainability/green-initiatives, https://www.ttgmice.com/2021/10/27/resorts-world-sentosa-rolls-out-eco-mice-packages/

21https://www.augustman.com/sg/travel/hotels-resorts/parkroyal-collection-marina-bay-is-singapores-first-garden-in-a-hotel/, https://singaporeland.com/championing-sustainability-down-to-the-smallest-detail/

22https://www.visitsingapore.com/content/dam/MICE/Global/plan-your-event/venues/parkroyal-pickering/PARKROYAL-COLLECTION-Pickering_Sustainable-Green-Features.pdf

23https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/sungei-buloh-wetland-reserve

24https://www.nss.org.sg/articles/2f436f5e-a10-15-NW20Q3FlywaysD.pdf

25https://www.nparks.gov.sg/SBG

26https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/key-focus-areas/key-targets#city-in-nature

27https://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/plan-your-event/community-programmes/

28https://groundupinitiative.org/corporate/

Tap into the conversations and trends shaping MICE events in the area of sustainability. With exclusive research and industry reports, explore insights and strategies for sustainable business events, and what Singapore can offer as a leading MICE destination.

Ready, get set, go green! - Smart strategies for sustainable meetings and events

A whitepaper published by American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) in partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

The great return to in-person meetings and events worldwide is taking place against a background of growing corporate focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Organisations are increasingly concerned about how their business activities impact the wider world, with sustainability at the forefront. This whitepaper sets out key strategies and approaches to help travel and meetings professionals deliver the sustainable events and a case study on Singapore’s sustainable destination offerings, examining the policies and practices that the country has enacted to create a powerful proposition for green meetings and events.

 

Download and read more here

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