An SDG Pioneer for a 1.5°C-compliant business model

Seo Jia Han Alvin is intent on keeping a pipeline of fresh ideas to protect the environment and improve people’s lives flowing in from social innovators throughout the Asia Pacific.

As Group Sustainability Manager at Singtel (Singapore Telecommunications Limited), Alvin leads the Singtel Group Future Makers programme in Singapore, its impact accelerator programme that supports budding social enterprises intent on using technology to create a positive difference in the region. The regional programme supports impact start-ups from Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

In 2018, the accelerator selected 48 start-ups throughout Southeast Asia and Australia and provided them with more than $1 million in funding and capacity support. The work of these start-ups will help complement seven Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being); Goal 4 (Quality Education); Goal 5 (Gender Equality); Goal 10 (Reduced Inequality); Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); Goal 13 (Climate Action); and Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

The Singtel Future Makers programme is just one slice of Alvin’s contribution to a high-energy Singtel sustainability team devoted to keeping its corporate sustainability strategy’s four focus areas — Environment, Community, People and Marketplace and Customers — aligned with the Global Goals.

Earlier this year, Singtel was the only Southeast Asian firm in a pioneering group of 28 global companies to commit to new and more aggressive climate targets by keeping global temperature increases within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and by reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. In 2017, Singtel was one of the first companies in Asia to have its carbon reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

It was also one of the first companies globally to endorse the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures recommended framework. Alvin’s work has supported the company’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions and manage its climate risks.

Alvin joined Singtel four years ago in 2015 through its management associate programme and in October 2018 began an overseas assignment at Optus, the giant telco’s fully owned subsidiary in Australia. He will return to Singapore in January 2020.

As Environmental Manager at Optus, Alvin is contributing to environmental sustainability activities in two areas: product stewardship, which zooms in on packaging and electronic waste; and climate change and carbon, which envelopes renewables, energy efficiency, disaster resilience and adaptation. These two areas support Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production); Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

Alvin actively strives to integrate the environmental goals of the Ten Principles into the environmental operations at Optus. The company’s strategy, “Leaving the Smallest Footprint,” aims to understand, manage and minimize its environmental footprint across its value chains.

He shares his knowledge and gains valuable insights as a working group member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organization. His work to curb electronic waste is enriched through supporting Mobile Muster, an industry mobile phone recycling programme in Australia, with Optus as an executive committee member.

Singtel has been participating in the UN Global Compact since 2007 and the company holds a seat on the management committee of Global Compact Network Singapore.

Network Singapore is a Singtel Future Makers partner and Alvin helps the impact start-ups funded by the accelerator tap into the expertise of company and industry experts throughout the network. Alvin also hones his sustainability skills by attending Network Singapore’s training sessions and seminars. He extends his enthusiasm and dedication to other young people through speaking events, such as sitting on a panel at the Network Singapore Youth Forum, held in Singapore in 2018.

Alvin holds a Master of Science in Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the National University of Singapore. He was also awarded the Shell Best Dissertation Award 2018 and Dean’s List. Alvin is 29 years of age.

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