Singapore’s sustainability journey

Edward Koh, executive director, conventions, meetings & incentive travel, Singapore Tourism Board, fleshes out the city-state’s progress in building a sustainable business events landscape

Launched in 2022, Singapore’s MICE Sustainability Roadmap is now a year old. What progress has been made?
Since the launch of the roadmap in 2022, STB has worked with Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), Singapore Standards Council (SSC), which is overseen by Enterprise Singapore, and public and private stakeholders to launch the Workshop Agreement (WA) 3 Sustainable MICE – Guidelines for waste management (March 2023), and the Workshop Agreement (WA) 4 Sustainable MICE – Guidelines for carbon emissions management (July 2023).

Currently, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is working on the development of the GSTC MICE Criteria, with support from STB. Development officially started in April 2023, and this will serve to meet the need for an international standard in sustainability for the business events industry.

SACEOS is also refreshing the MICE Sustainability Certification (MSC) to ensure the industry has a current, robust set of standards to adhere to, and get certified against. This is on track to be launched in early 2024.

In July 2023, the inaugural Sustainability Innovation Marketplace was launched at the Singapore MICE Forum. The Marketplace explored various solutions, which included a zero-waste prototype booth by Miniwiz, an idea born by STB, Informa Markets, and members of the Global MICE Sustainability Alliance. The booth, which can be dismantled, packed, and reused, will be showcased in the coming years.

These efforts add to our attractiveness as a sustainable and responsible travel destination, and contribute to our target of developing sustainability standards, as well as reducing waste and achieving net-zero emissions.

What support is STB providing?
STB developed the Tourism Sustainability Programme (TSP) to support tourism businesses at all stages of their sustainability journey. Grant schemes are open to more than 1,800 eligible companies in the tourism sector.

Grants such as the Business Improvement Fund (BIF) and Training Industry Professionals in Tourism (TIP-iT) also support sustainability initiatives that improve productivity and competitiveness. Companies can tap on the TIP-iT grant to train staff to take on new sustainability roles and grow their talent pipeline.

We also support event organisers in their event planning process and publicise their events as part of positioning Singapore as a leading sustainable business events destination. Visitors can visit the Visit Singapore website to find out more about sustainable accommodation, sustainable itineraries, green brands, and green venues.

What does STB need from business events stakeholders to ensure that the 2050 net-zero goal can be met?
According to ICCA, 44 per cent of international associations have changed their RFPs in the last three years, with sustainability requirements being the second most common change.

Hence, companies need to continue thinking about how sustainability makes business sense for them and how it fits into their processes. For example, investments in sustainability solutions, such as food waste management and sustainable building management systems can benefit bottom lines in the long run.

Associations and event organisers can work with STB to shape the legacy they want to achieve and leave a lasting impact on the wider community. This appeals to those who are keen to create a positive impact, be it through incorporating eco-friendly experiences into their delegate journey, or co-investing in resources to guide our local industry in adopting more sustainable practices.

What is next on Singapore’s sustainability agenda?
Singapore will continue to attract and nurture sustainability-themed events that enable the sharing of best practices. This includes the Asia Climate Forum, Ecosperity Week, Singapore Carbon Market & Investor Forum, and World Cities Summit.

Upcoming sustainability-themed events in Singapore include Investments into Forestry & Biodiversity Summit (January 16-17, 2024), Plastics Recycling Asia (November 13-14, 2024), and Global Sustainable Tourism Council Global Conference 2024 (November 13-16, 2024).

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