Thought Leadership

Commentary: Singapore will finally charge for plastic bags. What’s next?, Channel News Asia, 20 March 2023

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal reinforced the need for consumers to change their plastic bag habit besides the 5-cent charge for plastic bags. Besides waste reduction, factors contributing to the total carbon cost incurred in the life cycle of packaging materials were also discussed. The implementation of a carbon score card will potentially encourage consumers to adopt greener habits in more aspect of their lives. Merchants should continue to implement rewards for customers who choose to go green and live beyond the unsustainable convenience of plastic bags.


Peaking Inflation, Rising Interest Rates: Can Singapore Households, Businesses and Banks Cope? - NUS BIZBEAT, 9 February 2023 (edited version)

High inflation and interest rates: Supporting Singapore households, businesses and banks can be a wicked problem, The Straits Times, 8 December 2022

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal analysed the current challenges arising from the higher cost of borrowing for big-ticket items and shared targeted financial support available for the nation to deal with the double whammy - high inflation and interest rates. He also emphasised the need for striking a balance in pulling specific policy levers and encouraged businesses to leverage existing public policy and initiatives to find new markets, lower costs and build business resilience.


Want People to Use Less Water? Tell Them It’s Going to Cost More, Bloomberg, 2 February 2023

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal shared that control on water pricing, coupled with effective communication may serve as a water conservation tool. A research project focused on monitoring monthly water consumption for 2 million homes in Singapore from January 2011 to December 2019 reflected interesting insights on consumers’ behaviour to the change in price of water - low-income households that had access to the expanded government subsidies in 2012 and 2019 decreased their water consumption at levels similar to those households without the same assistance.


Long Overdue Protection for Platform Workers, NUS BIZBEAT, 3 January 2023 (edited version)

Platform firms must not exploit protection for platform workers for more profit, The Straits Times, 29 November 2022

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal emphasised the need for transparency in price adjustments by platform firms and shared the importance of closing the employment policy gap to protect platform workers and provide a stronger safety net for them. As platform firms mature and the number of platform workers increases, Singapore has stepped up platform workers’ protection to level the playing field – by providing health insurance and Central Provident Fund (CPF) payments for platform workers.


Singapore’s Financial Services Industry is Going to Be Hiring. Here are Some Emerging Jobs, Dollars and Sense, 15 December 2022

In this commentary, Associate Professor Zhang Weina, Deputy Director of SGFIN and Academic Director of Master of Science in Sustainable and Green Finance (MSGF) programme shared about emerging job opportunities in sustainable and green finance field in Singapore and beyond going forward.


MAS urges households to exercise prudence in spending amid rising interest rates, Channel News Asia, 26 November 2022

In the commentary, Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal shared that Singapore has very stringent debt-to-income and loan-to-value requirements and explained Singaporeans’ vulnerability to income and interest rates shocks as greater number of homeowners take on higher property loans.


Placing a Value to Sustainability, NUS BIZBEAT, 7 September 2022

Associate Professor Zhang shares her view of the value of sustainable activities' current and future impact; and how we need more green talent to help firms and society make better decisions with these rapid developments in the sustainability landscape.


The Importance of Green Finance., NUS BIZBEAT, 1 September 2022

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal and Associate Professor Zhang Weina (all from the Dept of Finance and the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute) gives a clear message of what green finance is, why it is important, and how everyone can play a role in this development.


How would a person's carbon scorecard work?, The Straits Times, 22 April 2022

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal shared the view on the one way to assess the impact of your carbon choices is by tracking digital spending


Ending cheap, convenient deliveries will help platform workers in Singapore, Channel News Asia, 24 March 2022

In the commentary, Low Tuck Kwong, Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal, and Chua Yeow Hwee shares the legitimate concerns about platform work, is there a better way to help workers without distorting the market. It highlighted the growing concerns that such work offers little protection or a way out of precarity and proposed several interventions to support platform workers.


Asia needs more talent amid drive towards green economy, South China Morning Post, 19 March 2022

Associate Professor Zhang commented on the need for Asian talents for the sustainable development in Asia. Both corporate sector and financial sector need to gear up in hiring skilled labor force for the changing regulatory landscape and the increasing demand for greener products and investment vehicles.  


Race for scarce talent in green finance looming in Singapore, Channel News Asia, 17 March 2022

In a commentary, Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal, Assoc Prof Zhang Weina and Dean’s Chair and Assoc Prof Johan Sulaeman (all from the Dept of Finance and the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute) explain why we need more talents in green finance. NUS also recently launched the MSc in Sustainable and Green Finance programme.  


How to convince people to save electricity, iREUS Newsletter, 25 February 2022

Professor Sumit Agarwal and his team investigated the effectiveness of Singapore's energy campaigns in catalysing desired behaviours in the local population, and demonstrated that interventions which communicated economic gains clearly were more effective than those that did not.  


A carbon scorecard to help people make environmentally-friendly day-to-day choices, The Business Times, 28 February 2022

In its 2022 Budget announcement, Singapore will raise carbon price from $5 to $50-$80 per tonne of emissions by 2030. Consumers are the trigger to all supply chains and should participate fully in the transition from carbon-intensive products to a modern, sustainable economy. Professor Sumit Agarwal proposed the development of a carbon scorecard for individuals to help them understand the carbon impact of their consumption choices and motivate them towards adjusting their behaviour in response.  


Climate crisis: Hong Kong, UK and Singapore dive in, but are green bonds just greenwashing?, South China Morning Post, 08 March 2021

Associate Professor Weina Zhang commented on the risk of greenwashing in the rising of sovereign issuers of green bonds.  


Fixing our plastic bag habit, NUS BIZBEAT, 04 September 2020

Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor Sumit Agarwal shared the view on single-use plastic bags that have been labelled as one of the biggest polluters, and Singapore is one of the world’s biggest offenders.


A time for CSR to shine, The Business Times, 24 August 2020

Associate Professor Weina Zhang described a unique Private-Public-People collaborative model for CSR to accumulate social capital at firm-level, industry-level, and societal level in the midst of pandemic in Singapore.  


Green Finance, MediaCorp Channel 8, 26 November 2019

Associate Professor Weina Zhang discussed the definition of green finance, types of green related financial products for investment, green investors, and the role to be played by Singapore in the development of green finance going forward.  


A burning issue: Calculating the cost of the haze, TODAY, 23 September 2019

Together with his NUS colleagues, Professor Sumit Agarwal studied the financial impact of haze on Singapore, based on the risk avoidance behaviours by local residents and foreign travellers. To find an effective and lasting regional solution to the haze issue, he saw monetary incentive as the most powerful means to galvanize actions in changing behaviours. Studies; like the NUS study; which quantified the real economic cost of haze serve as a useful aid for governments and policymakers to justify using public funding for preventive and protective measures against the haze. 


What is sustainability reporting?, The Straits Times, 22 September 2019

In the financial quotient series, Associate Professor Weina Zhang described the definition and three key aspects of sustainability reporting in Singapore context.   


What is social return on investment?, The Straits Times, 07 July 2019

In the financial quotient series, Associate Professor Weina Zhang and Ruth Tan discussed in details what was social return on investment (SROI) and how it could be useful to evaluate the non-monetary impact generated by social/environment projects and activities. 


Air quality affects productivity: study, The New Paper, 14 May 2019

Through this research study on the productivity level of a group of taxi drivers when air quality worsened, Professor Sumit Agarwal cautioned on the wider detrimental effects of lower productivity not only on the personal health, but also the economy at large.  


Can firms do well by doing good?, The Business Times, 13 December 2018

Associate Professor Weina Zhang commented on the principles, benefits and practices of companies that were active in doing good. 


What are green bonds?, The Straits Times, 05 August 2018

In the financial quotient series, Associate Professor Weina Zhang explained that a green bond was a sustainable investment vehicle that provided investors with financial returns and an opportunity to be environmentally responsible. 


Bike-sharing: Balance between regulation, supporting innovation, The Straits Times, 14 July 2018

Bike sharing offers an innovative solution to the pollution and congestion problems facing urban cities around the world. Professor Sumit Agarwal reasoned that where a particular innovation could generate many positive externalities, regulators should support and manage its development and progress, as well as its wider impact. He argued the careful need to consider how regulation and innovation could work together to better support Singapore’s drive to encourage and nurture innovators. 


What is impact investing?, The Straits Times, 20 May 2018

In the financial quotient series, Associate Professor Weina Zhang explained that impact investing was an alternative but important consideration for investors who cared about environmental and social impact of their capital investment. 


When construction noise impacts electricity consumption, The Business Times, 20 April 2018

In a NUS study investigating electricity consumption of households involving 5,300 HDB blocks, Professor Sumit Agarwal shed light that the increased consumption of electricity by households near the sites to shield from noise pollution continued to be so even after construction had ended. Given the potential astronomical consumption involved when over one million HDB flats and many construction activities were factored in, he recommended real time data feeds to households on usage and cost to induce a change of behaviour away from the persistent habit of consuming electricity for ventilation comfort.  


Commentary: Beyond price hikes and conservation campaigns, saving water through smart showers, Channel News Asia, 27 March 2018

In this international research collaboration involving NUS to study how households’ shower water usage behaviour could be improved for water conservation, Professor Sumit Agarwal shared findings on how offering real data to households could promote awareness in water conservation, by getting them to set personal targets and giving them feedback on their usage performances as the means to persuade lower water consumption.