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Singaporeans' ESG awareness higher than global average, but attitudes are similar: SEC Newgate survey

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 3 min read
Singaporeans' ESG awareness higher than global average, but attitudes are similar: SEC Newgate survey
About 55% of Singaporeans think greenwashing is a problem among Singapore-based companies, though this is lower than the global average of 63%. Photo: Bloomberg
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Singaporeans are more aware of environmental, social and governance (ESG) terms than their peers abroad, but their attitudes towards sustainability policies are similar to the global average.

Global strategic communications, advocacy and research group SEC Newgate polled over 12,000 participants in 12 countries and territories for the third annual edition of its ESG Monitor research report, released on Oct 11. 

Of over 1,000 Singaporeans polled, 75% have heard of the term “ESG”, higher than the global average of 53%, while 65% of Singaporeans surveyed have heard of the term “net zero”, compared to the global average of 54%.

According to SEC Newgate, Singaporeans are also increasingly interested in ESG. The percentage of Singaporeans rating their interest as seven or higher out of 10 increased from 58% in 2022 to 64% in 2023. 

This trend mirrors the global trajectory, adds the firm, where interest in ESG also rose from 56% to 67% y-o-y. 

A substantial majority (76%) of Singaporeans emphasised the importance of companies taking action on ESG issues, though this is in line with the global average of 77%. 

See also: CGSI publishes inaugural sustainability report, unveils Asean Institute of Carbon Neutrality with partner NUS

In addition, about 55% of Singaporeans think greenwashing is a problem among Singapore-based companies, though this is lower than the global average of 63%.

Singaporeans are incorporating ESG factors into their daily decision-making processes, says SEC Newgate. About 60% of Singaporeans believe ESG issues are important considerations in their daily consumption of food, products and services, as well as their employment decisions. 

See also: Sembcorp CEO, DBS energy head deliver reality checks on renewables

Some 70% of Singaporeans felt that companies should express their position on matters important to both their employees and customers, similar to the global average. 

Claims made by companies regarding ESG activities are met with distrust and scepticism, adds the firm.

Only 41% of Singaporeans actively looked for companies’ disclosures relating to their ESG initiatives and performance. When asked about their attitudes towards companies’ ESG claims, close to 60% of Singaporeans expressed distrust and were worried that these claims relating to ESG impact could be misleading. 

Sue Vercoe, managing director of SEC Newgate Research and partner at SEC Newgate Australia, says last year’s study in Singapore showed a “distinct disconnect” between people’s desire for companies to take action on ESG issues and their willingness to pay extra for it. “This year, we observed a clear progression in ESG attitudes in Singapore, with rising interest in ESG issues. Two-thirds want companies to communicate the results of their ESG efforts more clearly but there are some issues emerging, including very few people regularly looking for ESG information and a level of distrust and scepticism regarding companies' claims about their ESG efforts.” 

Vercoe says the research offers a “valuable snapshot” of on-the-ground sentiment regarding ESG. “We hope that the insights from our ESG Monitor 2023 survey will be helpful to business leaders, who can utilise this data to integrate ESG considerations into their business decision-making processes.” 

Infographics: SEC Newgate

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