The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) was set up in September 1972 as the Ministry of the Environment (ENV), to tackle issues such as pollution control, sewerage, drainage and environmental health.
In 2001, recognising that Singapore’s water catchment and supply systems, drainage systems, water reclamation plants, and sewerage systems are part of a comprehensive water cycle, PUB was reconstituted to become Singapore’s national water authority, overseeing the entire water loop. The drainage and sewerage departments from ENV were transferred to PUB, while PUB itself was transferred from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ENV.
On 1 July 2002, a new statutory board – the National Environment Agency (NEA) –was formed under ENV to focus on the implementation of environmental policies. It took on the operations of the Environmental Public Health Division, and the Environmental Policy and Management Division of ENV. The aim was to create a leaner, more policy-focused Ministry and a more streamlined, operations-focused statutory board. The division of responsibility between policy formulation and operational implementation would allow ENV to focus on setting strategic policy directions and address key policy concerns.
In September 2004, ENV was renamed the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to better reflect the Ministry’s significantly expanded role in managing Singapore’s water resources.
On 1 April 2019, a new statutory board – the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) – was formed under the Ministry to oversee food safety and security. The SFA brought together food-related functions carried out by the former Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, NEA and the Health Sciences Authority.
On 27 July 2020, MEWR was renamed MSE to better reflect the Government’s emphasis on sustainability, and its plans to press on with major initiatives in carbon mitigation, coastal protection, zero waste and circular economy, as well as food and water security. MSE will also continue to work with international partners to collectively address global climate and sustainability challenges.
Together with its statutory boards NEA, PUB and SFA, MSE continues to work towards ensuring a clean, sustainable environment, and supply of water and safe food for Singapore.