The ESG Forum for Family Business 2023, held on November 14, 2023, emerged as a triumphant convergence of distinguished speakers, industry leaders, and engaged participants. This dynamic exploration unfolded against the backdrop of the crucial role family businesses play in propelling sustainable growth through Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies.
Co-organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), SMU Business Families Institute (BFI@SMU), SkillsFuture Singapore Lifelong Learning Institute (SSG-LLI), and the International Association for Agricultural Sustainability (IAAS), the event showcased a resounding success in fostering collaboration, sharing insights, and sparking meaningful discussions.
The forum commenced with an inspiring opening remark by Mr. Andrew Kwan, Vice Chairman & Honorary Secretary of the Singapore Business Federation and Group Managing Director of the Commonwealth Capital Group. Mr. Kwan underscored the imperative of incorporating ESG practices into corporate strategies, citing family businesses as uniquely positioned champions of sustainability due to their values-driven approach, commitment to legacy building, and strong ties to local communities.
Key themes and discussions
1. Harnessing ESG for entrepreneurial innovation
The forum delved into the pivotal role of family businesses in ESG strategies, focusing on innovation. Business leaders from the food and manufacturing sectors, including Ms. Michelle Cheo, Deputy Chairperson & Chief Executive Officer of Mewah International Inc., Mr. John Cheng, Founder and Managing Director of Innovate 360, and Ms. Cynthia Handriani Wijaya, Chief Corporate Officer and Board Director & Sustainability at Daya Selaras Group, shared valuable insights on leveraging ESG principles for innovation and business transformation.
In the subsequent Panel Discussion, the distinguished Prof. Annie Koh, Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice) & Senior Advisor at the Business Families Institute, Singapore Management University, skillfully took on the role of moderator. to engaged in a dynamic discussion with the aforementioned speakers. Together, they explored the nuanced landscape of opportunities and challenges faced by family businesses in Asia, unraveling the key factors contributing to their sustained success over the long run.
2. ESG for sustainable growth and development
Research supported by the Vital Wellspring Group, titled “Landscaping the ESG Space for Family Businesses.” Is set to unveil its findings. Dr. Kenneth Goh, Associate Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Academic Director at the Business Families Institute, SMU, presented the research results on the same day,. This comprehensive foundation acts as a strategic guide, illuminating the seamless integration of ESG practices for sustainable growth within family businesses.
Adding to the wealth of knowledge, Prof. Anne Wu, Chair Professor of the Department of Accounting at the College of Commerce, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, presented live to share insights on “Management Accounting and ESG: Taiwan Experience.” Prof. Wu employs AVM as the cornerstone, leveraging management accounting to measure ESG performance and demonstrate business continuity, providing business executives with advice on business decision-making.
The subsequent panel discussion, skillfully moderated by Mr. Mark Lee, Deputy Honorary Treasurer of SBF and CEO of Sing Lun Holdings Limited, convened panelists representing different generations of family businesses, including Ms Jamie Lim, CEO of Scanteak Singapore, Mr. Nicholas Ng, Director of X-Inc Pte Ltd and Mr. Arthur Chua, CEO of Goldbell Group. The discourse centered around identifying challenges and presenting viable solutions in the transformative journey of enterprises. This engaging session provided a unique perspective, combining academic insights with practical experiences from family business leaders, contributing to a rich and comprehensive understanding of the enterprise transformation landscape.
3. ESG-driven strategies for resilient agriculture investment:
In the enlightening afternoon session, Dr. Ravi Khetarpal, Executive Secretary of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) provided valuable insights into incorporating impact investing as a long-term strategy for family businesses in the evolving landscape of global agricultural advancement.
With a growing world population, changing climate, and increasing environmental degradation, ensuring access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food has become a global challenge. Prof. Chew Fook Tim, from Department of Biological Sciences at National University of Singapore, then introduced a groundbreaking solution — Unlocking Opportunities for Urban Farms through Seeds R&D, Deep Phenotyping and In Silico Breeding, which is an example of current SFA grant research programme. This approach aims to enhance food self-sufficiency, with a focus on stable domestic supply as opposed to relying on potentially unstable international trade.
The session took an intriguing turn with Prof. Paul Teng from National Institute of Education International Pte. Ltd., Nanyang Technological University challenged the traditional assessment norms, advocating for a shift from ESG to EES - Environment, Economics, and Social. In the agri-food space, especially for SMEs, this nuanced approach provides a more comprehensive evaluation of sustainability.
The forum concluded with Dr. Tan Wee Liang, Vice Chairman of IAAS, sharing his thoughts on the impact of ESG on agriculture and engaging the audience in a discussion about its potential benefits. In conclusion, the influence of ESG on agriculture is highly contingent on factors such as the responder’s position in the supply chain, the scale of the operation, and the state of ESG implementation. Recognizing that embracing ESG will be a journey, not a quick fix, is crucial, and the process may disrupt financial projections. Ultimately, progress will depend on collaborative efforts from businesses, government, and society, requiring responsible behaviors to navigate the complexities of sustainable agricultural practices.
For media inquiries and further information, please contact IAAS Secretariat Office at firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the organisers
1. Singapore Business Federation (SBF): https://www.sbf.org.sg/
2. SMU Business Families Institute: https://bfi.smu.edu.sg/
3. SkillsFuture Singapore Lifelong Learning Institute: https://www.lli.sg/
4. International Association for Agricultural Sustainability: https://iaas.org.sg/