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Digital-green tech must be leveraged in ASEAN to move the needle in sustainability

15 Nov Digital-green tech must be leveraged in ASEAN to move the needle in sustainability

Media Release

For Immediate Release


Digital-green tech must be leveraged in ASEAN to move the needle in sustainability

Singapore, Wednesday, 15 November 2023 – As the world grapples with the mounting climate crisis, there is an urgency for governments and businesses to transition their business and growth models to be greener, especially in growing economies like ASEAN. Innovations in digital-green technology can facilitate this, but only when all hands are on deck. This was the common thread discussed at the Sustainable World Forum (SWF), a conference organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) at the Tower Club Singapore on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, some two weeks ahead of the landmark COP28 conference taking place in Dubai, UAE.

During the fireside chat titled “Singapore’s Pathways in Green Transition”, Guest-of-Honour Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, spoke about extensive efforts by Singapore to “green” physical infrastructure – or our hardware – such that there are now more energy-efficient buildings, cooling systems and energy transmission systems in Singapore. He said: “The future trajectory is going to require us to think about greening the compute, meaning the software. This is a paradigm shift and is likely to be a space where there are significant gains in the near future. Greening the compute will require extensive efforts such as the setting of standards and benchmarks, and having the financial models and incentives to drive green computation”. He added that: “The success of this transition is also going to be contingent on the extent of the relationships that we have – whether it is the relationship with the private or public sector or across borders in ASEAN and beyond”. This fireside chat is moderated by SIIA Chairman, Associate Professor Simon Tay.

Associate Professor Simon Tay highlighted that, “The role of the markets and digital technologies is crucial in building institutional trust and transparency in ASEAN’s green transition process.”. He then added, “Effective public-private partnership is also needed to allow digital innovation and green transition be the twin engines for ASEAN to grow while achieving its net-zero emissions target.”

This sentiment was reiterated by Dr Rudy Salahuddin, Deputy Minister for Digital Economy, Manpower and SMEs at Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, in his opening keynote speech titled “Indonesia and ASEAN’s Pathways in Green Transition”. Citing the report Building a digital-green ASEAN: Growing intersections between digital growth and sustainability goals , he emphasised that “ASEAN has the potential to pioneer a digital-green ecosystem” instead of approaching digital and sustainable growth as disparate sectors in “silos”.

This report by the SIIA provided research and analysis on the dual emerging trends of digitalisation and sustainability in ASEAN. Through a lens of innovation, inclusion, interoperability and sustainability, the SIIA conducted closed-door roundtables and interviews to garner insights from policymakers and the private sectors from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

With more than 70 participants from a wide range of backgrounds and sectors, the SWF brought together key regional corporate leaders, industry experts, policymakers, and decision-makers. They discussed how ASEAN can leverage digital and technological advancements for green transition, under the theme of ‘Enabling ASEAN’s Green Transition in a Digital World’.

The urgent need for climate action requires business practices to be more transparent about their carbon footprint, which digital technology can help enable. This was discussed in the panel, ‘Trust and Accountability: Transparency in the Green Transition’ moderated by Ms. Fang Eu-Lin, Partner and Sustainability & Climate Change Practice Leader at PwC Singapore. The panellists included:

  • Hum Wei Mei, Head of Asia Pacific and Global Head of Environmental Products, ACX Singapore;
  • Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer, City Developments Limited (CDL);
  • Rachel Teo, Head, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Google; and
  • Eric Lim, Chief Sustainability Officer, United Overseas Bank (UOB).


Ms Hum Wei Mei from ACX underlined the need for  “Everything needs to be tracked, measured and verified.” From a banking perspective, Mr Eric Lim added, “The next revolution in sustainability reporting, is to go down the value chains, and as you string out sectoral value chains what are the key sustainability value chain KPIs that needs to be reported to the ecosystem of regulators, investors and financiers.”

Ms Esther An spoke on the challenges of having enough and relevant data to remain accountable: “The challenge is that we need data, a lot of data is not available or is not recorded. That is where the digital aspects can come in to provide us reliable data.”

Ms Rachel Teo emphasised the need for tech powerhouses like Google to be more efficient. She underlined how Google is  “energy efficient across [its ]algorithms, code, servers which are designed and manufactured internally [with] data centre facilities that are built bespoke for [their] servers and algorithms.”

At the forum, the SIIA also launched a Special Report on Incentivising Green Transition in ASEAN, which is now available for . This special report provides research and analysis on a pivotal challenge facing ASEAN in the coming decades: the need to balance economic growth while reducing its carbon footprint.

The event was made possible by the following organisations: Key Donor: Google; Donor, City Developments Limited (CDL).


For further enquiries, please contact the SIIA: 


Ms. Siti Bazilah

Senior Executive, Media, Events & Marketing
Email: siti.bazilah@siiaonline.org

Ms. Hazeera Bi W.

Senior Executive, Marketing & Outreach

Email: hazeera.wahid@siiaonline.org

About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs

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Established in 1962, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is a non-profit and independent think tank committed to producing policy analysis, fostering in-depth dialogues and bridging gaps between policymakers, private sector decision-makers and experts to shape public policy and social responses. Centred around ASEAN focused themes, the institute aims to deliver policy analysis in international affairs and on issues driving environmental sustainability. The SIIA has been consistently ranked as one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2017, the SIIA was ranked the No. 1 independent think tank in Asia. It was also recognised as one of the top 50 think tanks globally, excluding the United States of America. For two consecutive years since 2019, it was recognised as the No. 1 think tank in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (excluding India). In 2020, it was also recognised as one of the think tanks with the best policy and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.