SMU students emerge 2nd runners-up in Young SDG Leaders Awards with business proposal to reduce carbon emission for City Developments Limited

By the SMU Corporate Communications team

Jointly organised by City Developments Limited (CDL) and Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS), the annual CDL-GCNS Young SDG Leaders Awards case competition offers young people a platform to champion sustainable development and SDG integration into business for positive change.

Since 2011, the competition has nurtured over 2,400 young Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) leaders. It seeks to educate and empower young leaders with SDG knowledge and skills, while inspiring companies in Singapore to take concrete actions for SDGs.

A group of Singapore Management University (SMU) students formed Detox Squad in January this year, competing with more than 60 other teams in Singapore. The team included Year 3 students, Amanda Lim Si Hui, Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) and School of Information Systems (SIS), Gauri Saxena, LKCSB and School of Social Sciences (SOSS), Derrick Chua, LKCSB and School of Accountancy (SOA), and Year 4 student, Slevin Chua, (LKCSB and SOA).  After working on the project for close to seven months, the team emerged 2nd runners-up at the finals held on 24 July 2021.

For their case proposal, the team was assigned to help achieve the net-zero carbon emission goal for their client, PwC. Their business proposal aimed to leverage on different agents of change: employees, the organisation itself, and the wider community to expedite PwC’s net-zero carbon journey. These included:

- gamifying eco-friendly behaviour through the use of a mobile application.

- the use of a dashboard that generates predictive and prescriptive sustainability analytics based on data inputted into a centralised system, which circumvents the need for an employee to input the data manually.

- partnering eco-friendly companies to ensure that every segment of PwC’s value chain utilised eco-friendly materials and processes.

The solutions were commended for effectively tackling the upstream portion & operations portion of PwC’s value chain, which were the areas that generated the greatest carbon emission.

Derrick Chua, team leader of Detox Squad, said “We were excited to join this competition as it gave us the opportunity to apply knowledge on sustainability to a company like CDL, which has a varied portfolio of businesses.  The competition was also interesting as it let us collaborate with real companies and make an impact on their journey towards sustainable action.”

On their challenges, he shared that being assigned a client in the service-dominated industry was more demanding as it was difficult to find obvious areas where sustainable options could be taken up, and the main cause of carbon emissions. This necessitated greater effort in understanding how to drive behavioural change as well as tracking individual data, which is difficult to collect.

He added, “As students without a background in sustainability, we are proud to be able to come together with our varied expertise in different fields to clinch a position in the top 3 in this competition. Applying our knowledge across disciplines like information systems, business, accountancy, psychology and law, was interesting and taught us how the various disciplines can interact in the real world. It was also really satisfying to see the company take tangible steps towards implementing our solution.”