The global pandemic has given corporations and countries alike the impetus to invest for the long run. Singapore is no exception and has recently unveiled its SG Green Plan that is set to radically change our way of life. How will the global focus on sustainability change career landscapes and how will it affect you?
Sustainability is pandemic and thus recession proof
Even in a year dominated by a global pandemic, the sustainability revolution has accelerated faster as Covid-19 reveals the vulnerabilities in global supply chains. The topic is also expanding to include a wider range of environmental and social issues.
Countries are already shifting their focus. Bangladesh has announced to potentially scrap up to 90% of coal plants while Vietnam is looking to shelve half of its pipeline of coal projects.
Some corporates are grasping this change faster than others and have made public pledges to fuel green recovery - because commitment to sustainability makes business sense. Nielsen has reported that products with specific sustainability claims outperformed those without by manifold.
SG Green Plan: Sustainability to remain a priority for decades to come
The newly unveiled Singapore Green Plan 2030 is set to radically change the way we work, study and play over the next decade. It is spearheaded by the Ministries of Education, National Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Trade and Industry, and Transport.
The Green Plan outlines ambitious sustainability goals for Singapore that aim to strengthen her commitments under the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement. It is anchored in 5 key pillars namely City in Nature, Sustainability Living, Energy Reset, Green Economy and Resilient Future.
The green economy seeks to create new jobs in sustainability and transform local industries. Sustainability careers are gaining popularity as climate action becomes more urgent. These are essential careers that attempt to integrate social, environmental science, and civil engineering to transform our way of living into a sustainable one.
Jobs in sustainability are highly contextual
Since the launch of the Green Collar in July 2020, there has been a 300% increase in job listings for sustainability in Singapore. The types of jobs in sustainability will depend on each country's context.
In the context of Singapore, more emphasis is placed in local food production as it is heavily reliant on global commodities and imports. As such, a newly rolled out Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund of around $60 million has been dedicated to help local farmers harness technology to sustain food produ
Talent is required to utilise the fund and harness new farming technologies. The demand for people with the relevant skills and training opens up new roles critical to achieving Singapore’s “30 by 30” plan. In the long term, it serves to ensure Singapore's immunity to disruptions in global food chains as extreme weather events hit more frequently and erratically.
The focus for other countries might however differ based on its context. For instance, countries like Thailand are high on food self-sufficiency and would probably dedicate more resources to urban planning in view of rising sea levels.
Sustainability careers go beyond science and engineering
Contrary to popular belief, sustainability careers span beyond science and engineering, and can lead to many career paths. For instance, there is increasing interest in sustainable finance where environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are heavily accounted for in investment decision-making. ESG standards serve as a framework to help companies gauge their performance as a steward of nature and her resources.
Despite the massive economic shock brought about by the pandemic, sustainability funds are outperforming the market and almost 70% of global sustainable equity funds are ranked in the top half of their respective categories.
The Monetary Authority Singapore (MAS) is also taking active steps in promoting sustainable financing and there is demand for talent to support the adoption of ESG industry standards and guidelines. For those looking to create positive environmental impact in the financial sector, financing, governance (assurance and advisory) are bright spots of growth.
Sustainability work remains ambiguous for many, even the government
While the SG Green Plan outlines quantifiable goals, there has yet to be a roadmap that details how they will be achieved. The SG Green Plan also places more emphasis on certain industries like finance and technology. It does not give mention to other environmental concerns in Singapore like the need to innovate in the waste management space.
The pandemic has increased the use of disposable plastic for both consumption and medical purposes. The global emergency has revealed the reality in which the environment cannot always take precedence when other interests like public health are threatened. A balance has to be struck between both interests and thus, there needs to be more innovation to maintain this balance.
Where do I fit in?
As an upcoming field, a career in sustainability may seem like uncharted territory. What can I expect to do in my day-to-day life? What relevant skills and knowledge do I require to enter or transit into the field? How can I integrate sustainability with my current expertise?
If you are considering a career in sustainability but are unsure where to start, what better way to learn than to hear from industry professionals? Seastainable and Green Nudge Singapore are spearheading an initiative called "Journey Through A Green Purpose'' - a 12-week webinar series tackling various verticals in waste, law, finance, packaging, advisory and more.
To find out more check it out here!