Prestige 40 Under 40: Jessica Cheam, founder and managing editor of Eco-Business
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Jessica Cheam

36, FOUNDER OF AND MANAGING EDITOR AT ECO-BUSINESS

Back when she was a journalist with The Straits Times, Jessica Cheam realised that sustainable development and climate change issues were routinely ignored by mainstream media because “they were not the most exciting of news”. Convinced that climate change – along with related problems such as rising inequality, resource management, waste generation and pollution – was going to be a defining issue of our time, she started Eco‐Business in 2009, Asia-Pacific’s first and only media organisation dedicated to reporting on sustainable development. Journalists from around the world contributed content, and she eventually decided to make the for-profit platform for “purposeful journalism” her main hustle in 2013.

“Our content focuses on generating positive societal and environmental impact. We also reinvest any profits back into the business and into our programmes. For our 10th anniversary, we started a new non-profit called EB Impact, to provide information and sustainability training to underprivileged communities in Singapore and around the region,” says Cheam, who also sits on the boards of or acts as advisor to various environmental and non-profit organisations. Named one of Asia’s Top Sustainability Superwomen at the Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit last year, she also chairs the Climate Action sg Alliance.

Eco-Business launched its flagship initiative, Changing Course, in 2018 to raise further awareness about climate change. This year’s campaign takes the form of a multimedia exhibition at the ArtScience Museum that runs from Oct 4 to Nov 3. Opening day sees the global premiere of a new documentary Arctic Awakening – the sequel to From Asia to Antarctica, a short film produced and directed by Cheam that examines Asia’s footprint in Antarctica.