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As Singapore pushes forward in its sustainability goals, we highlight three women who have dedicated their lives to solving our climate crisis

With COP26 ending in November last month, sustainability is on almost everyone’s mind. From consumers to corporations, the push to be more sustainable in various industries to reverse climate change is stronger than ever.

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In fact, at COP26 this year, the Singapore government committed to review its climate change targets.

In its 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), Singapore stated that they aimed to achieve “net-zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century”.

However, that needed to be relooked at. “We will go back and look at what we need to do, look at our responsibilities and review our position. We will review the NDC seriously. This whole package requires us as a party to take them seriously,” said Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu while she was in Glasglow for COP26. 

Of course, the road to sustainability is not just reliant on a single person or company. Rather, it is a collective effort and no one knows that better than the sustainability warriors we have right here in Singapore. 

From helping companies make their packaging more sustainable to creating programmes to empower young people to take part in the discussions surrounding climate change, these individuals are doing amazing work to help Singapore reach its climate goals. 

While the local sustainability scene is made up of many notable people, we highlight some of the incredible women who are making waves in the industry and are featured on Tatler’s 2021 Asia’s Most Influential list released this week. 

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1. Susan Chong

Entrepreneurial, far-sighted and passionate, Susan Chong has been making waves in the sustainability scene since 2002 when she launched Greenpac as a one-woman operation.

Greenpac is a knowledge-based company that offers innovative and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to its customers.

Through sheer hard work, Chong grew her tiny business to become a leader in the re-engineering, design and distribution of eco-friendly packaging products and solutions.

One of their biggest achievements was re-engineering wooden packing pallets by making them durable and lightweight. They are also obtained from sustainable tree farms which help clients save more because there is less waste. 

Chong’s firm has won various awards and certifications for its innovative and eco-friendly contributions, including Spring Singapore’s Quality Award in 2014. Greenpac also regularly clinches the Worldstar Packaging Award for innovation and quality in packaging. 

Now a 50‑strong workforce, Chong encourages her Greenpac employees to focus on the community and environment while also practising hiring inclusively by giving opportunities to ex-convicts as well as people with disabilities. 

2. Esther An

Esther An is the chief sustainability officer of Singapore-based property firm City Developments Limited (CDL) and has gained an incredible reputation over the years of promoting sustainability across sectors, speaking at events around the world, and bringing people together to build partnerships.

Some of her most notable environmental contributions include publishing the first sustainability report in Singapore in 2008, issuing the first green bond by a Singaporean company in 2017, and building an integrated sustainability reporting framework since 2015.

Under her leadership, CDL was ranked as the top real estate company in the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World and became the only CDP A-List company for climate strategy and water security in South-East Asia. 

In 2017, An founded the Women4Green, a collaborative platform that aims to empower female executives to adopt and champion sustainable living at work, home, and play.

CDL has also recently partnered with Singapore Youth for Climate Action at COP26 to launch the ‘Keep Calm and Love Our Planet’ campaign which is a series of programmes that engage youth from around the world to support their vision of “Turning Climate Anxiety into Positive Action”.

3. Ruth Yeoh

Ruth Yeoh is the executive director of real estate firm YTL Singapore and the director of YTL-SV Carbon, YTL’s carbon credit and clean development mechanism consultancy.

In her role, Yeoh leads the sustainability division at YTL and publishes its sustainability reports on an annual basis among other tasks.

She was also the driving force behind the firm’s flagship educational campaign on climate change, Climate Change Week.

Under her leadership, YTL has won the multi-disciplinary firm various awards, including the prestigious Singapore Environmental Achievement Award (Regional) from the Singapore Environmental Council in 2012.

The company is now an international conglomerate that comprises six listed companies with approximately 10 million customers on three continents.

Yeoh also is an investment committee member of the Asian Renewable Energy and Environment Fund as well as a board member of Reef Check Malaysia, which is dedicated to protecting coral life in Southeast Asia.

Read the full list of Asia’s Most Influential 2021 here.

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