Companies in Asia Willing to Allocate up to 20% of Operating Budgets to ESG Efforts: Survey

Managing climate risk continues to be a growing priority – and opportunity – for companies across Asia.

On average, companies that viewed ESG as a high priority (83%) were prepared to allocate about 20% of their budget within the next three years towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects, up from about 18% currently. These were the insights from the e-book “Catalysts of Sustainability” launched by Singapore’s largest bank DBS.

The online publication aims to pinpoint the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across five key industries – real estate, mobility, F&B/hospitality, power, and agriculture – as well as the opportunities to enable their transition to a low-carbon economy.

The findings were the result of an inaugural survey conducted in August last year of 800 SMEs across six markets in Asia.

Companies surveyed said that environmental projects will take a lion’s share of their sustainability investments, as nine in 10 believed that environmental factors would have the biggest impact on their respective industries. Access to funding and knowledge capital were also important drivers for businesses to engage in environmental initiatives.

Koh Kar Siong, Group Head of SME Banking, Institutional Banking Group, DBS, said: “Access to the right resources, technical know-how and tools to deploy ESG initiatives are especially essential for SMEs, who face the constant challenge of having to prioritise projects on tighter budgets. This is where partners, like DBS, can play a role – by working with customers to identify financing opportunities, help them adjust their portfolios to align with climate targets; and match appropriate risk management principles to help customers achieve their sustainability goals.”

To help companies yield better returns on their sustainability investments, DBS in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore, will curate more courses to help SMEs acquire new capabilities to implement and operationalise sustainable practices, address new ESG demands, and generate impact.

Since July 2022, DBS has taken on the role of a SkillsFuture Queen Bee. Under this initiative, the bank has enabled 80 SMEs to upskill employees in the areas of cyberwellness, digitalisation and workplace learning.

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