Behind Sentosa’s ambitious goal to decarbonisation by 2030

Sentosa is as committed to being a one-stop MICE destination as it is to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, says Sentosa Development Corporation’s CEO Thien Kwee Eng.

Sentosa Development Corporation CEO Thien Kwee Eng, who likens the carbon reduction journey to scaling Mount Everest, believes that every single step and partner counts towards the island's goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.
Sentosa Development Corporation CEO Thien Kwee Eng, who likens the carbon reduction journey to scaling Mount Everest, believes that every single step and partner counts towards the island's goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, something that Thien Kwee Eng only knows too well in her CEO role at Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) as she steers the island's development into a sustainable tourism and meetings destination.

Since taking on the top executive role in June 2020, Thien has led the mission to position Sentosa as an internationally recognised island destination built on a sustainable development model, aligning with Singapore’s national goal of becoming a sustainable urban destination with net zero footprint by 2050.

Under Thien’s charge, SDC has embarked on the Sentosa sustainable strategic roadmap to achieve two goals: one, for Sentosa to become a certified sustainable destination by 2022; and two, to make Sentosa a carbon neutral precinct by 2030.

However, turning a 500-hectare island with myriad partners — comprising one integrated resort, 17 hotels, 25 attractions and 200 F&B and retail outlets, among others — into a carbon neutral one in the span of a decade is no easy task, admits Thien.

“Tackling carbon reduction is as difficult as climbing Mount Everest,” she remarked, speaking to M&C Asia at the recent IMEX 2022 in Frankfurt.

This is where the chief executive sees benchmarking and data playing crucial role in kickstarting Sentosa’s sustainability journey. “If there’s no data in sustainability, you’re shooting in the dark,” she added. “Carbon reduction starts with understanding what your footprint is, and that has to be aligned with international standards.”

With that in mind, SDC has completed its inaugural sustainability reporting in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI standards) for 2020. It has also engaged sustainability consulting and energy management company, Engie Impact, to conduct an island-wide carbon profiling and carbon mitigation approaches for Sentosa.

For Sentosa, which is estimated to emit 162,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, top decarbonisation opportunities lie in solar deployment, transportation electrification, energy efficiency, among others.

Already, Sentosa’s fleet of beach shuttles have been fully-electric since 2020 and electric buses have been progressively deployed in Sentosa this year. Come 2025, 100% of Sentosa’s on-island public transportation is set to be electric by 2025.

Island-wide support for sustainable meetings

Besides planning and infrastructure development, Sentosa’s decarbonisation journey also requires plenty of engagement with island partners to spur commitment and collective action towards carbon neutrality, Thien stressed.

“We proliferate the (carbon reduction) template across the island, and we talk to all our island businesses to come along with us.”

The outcome was the Sentosa Carbon Neutral Network (SCNN), which was launched as a business alliance to collectively achieve Sentosa’s carbon neutrality by 2030. These SCNN members account for 95% of the island’s carbon profile.

As well, SDC is also working with Deloitte Carbon Care Asia to develop a template for green MICE events, a growing priority for many multinationals in their ESG drive.

Island partners have already shown a strong commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, said Thien, citing Resorts World Sentosa’s Eco-MICE packages as well as Oasia Resort Sentosa's initiative to repurpose 'ugly' food into dehydrated fruits as some notable examples.

While all these initiatives reflect the island partners’ efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, on the visitor front Sentosa has also been launching fresh experiences with a sustainability bent through the pandemic.

SentoSights, for example, is a suite of sustainability-themed tours that allow guests to experience biodiversity and conservation through marine, terrestrial and historical offerings. Other new offerings launched on the island include SkyHelix Sentosa, an open-air panoramic ride; Skypark Sentosa, which features a bungy jump and giant swing.; Southside, a waterfront space with a variety of dining options; and Scentopia, which provides perfume tours and workshops.

All these initiatives come together to make Sentosa into a one-stop MICE destination for bespoke experiences, Thien said. “We think Sentosa offers a very unique proposition in a post-Covid world, providing a refreshing backdrop and environment for meetings to happen.”



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