Navigating the Decade of Delivery: Singapore’s 15th GCNS Summit on Sustainable Development

The 15th UN Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Summit’s overarching message was unequivocal: sustainability is a path we walk together. Companies must align with their supply chains and wider ecosystems to progress meaningfully.
Singapore’s dedication to sustainable growth shone brightly at the impactful two-day UN Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Summit, which kicked off on November 2, 2023. More than 300 leaders spanning business sectors, government policy, and academic spheres gathered to amplify the call for urgent action under the theme “The Decade to Deliver: Raising the Bar on Sustainability Ambition.” Their collective aim was clear: to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030.


A Unified Vision at the 15th GCNS SummitS

The summit opened with a fireside chat featuring Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Mr. Heng Swee Keat, alongside Dr. Bicky Bhangu, President of GCNS. The duo tackled the topic “Sustainability in Uncertain Times: Bridging Complexity with Uncertainty.” The session marked the beginning of a series of deep dives by prominent speakers into critical areas, including the pathways to a net-zero future and the integration of artificial intelligence in corporate sustainability initiatives.
Industry leaders like Melissa Moi from UOB, Ted Howland from CapitaLand Investment, Yuki Yasui from GFANZ, Prof Lynn LOO from GCMD, and Ng Lay San from UN Global Compact Network Singapore shared their expertise on pressing matters such as climate action and the future of sustainable finance. The summit further offered breakout sessions focusing on gender equality, fair wages, water resilience, and responsible investment practices, with backing from prominent partners like Accenture Singapore, CDP, and the Wealth Management Institute.
A highlight of the event was the 2023 CDL-GCNS Young SDG Leaders Award, which shone a spotlight on the innovative team Green Phenomena from Nanyang Technological University, applauding their efforts to weave sustainable development into the fabric of business strategy.
Dr. Bhangu emphasized the shared responsibility of confronting global issues, calling for immediate and bold measures to fulfill the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. He pointed out the critical need for multisectoral collaboration to take significant steps toward sustainability milestones.
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, a member of the UNGC Board, discussed the pivotal role of corporations in fostering sustainability, which he likened to a “passport to operate, succeed, and attract in the future.” He emphasized the UN Global Compact as the unified language that enables businesses to collaborate on building a more sustainable world, grounded in the Ten Principles and the 17 UN SDGs.
The summit cast a spotlight on five SDGs in dire need of focused attention: gender equality, climate action, living wages, water resilience, and sustainable finance. These interlinked goals were recognized as crucial in propelling the advancement of all SDGs.
A significant takeaway from the summit was the crucial role small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in realizing net-zero emissions. SMEs account for 99% of Singapore’s businesses, and to support their green transformation, GCNS has unveiled initiatives that include courses in carbon accounting and greenhouse gas management, bolstered by Enterprise Singapore.
Broadening the lens to the wider Asian context, the summit acknowledged that the region’s GDP faces potential risks by 2050 if the current dependency on fossil fuels continues. A shift in energy consumption and production practices is deemed essential to mitigate looming economic and environmental crises. The summit’s overarching message was unequivocal: sustainability is a path we walk together. Companies must align with their supply chains and wider ecosystems to progress meaningfully.

Lead image courtesy of UN Global Compact Network Singapore.