Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
Addendum to the President’s Address
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
1 Since independence, Singapore has pursued economic growth in tandem with social inclusion and environmental protection. This is the foundation for the green and liveable city that we enjoy today. However, we cannot take our success for granted. In a global landscape characterised by pandemics, climate change, and resource constraints, sustainability has become increasingly important. Sustainability is the principle that in meeting the needs of current generations, we should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It has always been part of Singapore’s DNA. But we will push for it to be at the heart of our plans, policies, and processes. This renewed commitment is reflected in our name change to the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE). We will continue to work with all segments of society and the economy to realise our vision for a sustainable Singapore, as we ride out COVID-19 and beyond.
Riding Out the COVID-19 Storm
2 As an immediate priority, we will shore up Singapore’s environmental public health resilience as a first line of defence against the transmission of COVID-19 and dengue. We will strengthen our environmental sanitation controls, upgrade public health infrastructure in hawker centres and coffeeshops, and rally Singaporeans to uplift and sustain cleanliness and public hygiene norms.
3 The disruption of global supply chains amidst COVID-19 is a reminder of why we must take Singapore’s food security seriously. While our food supply has remained stable, we have launched the “30x30 Express” grant to support agri-food players to accelerate local food production over the next 6 to 24 months.
4 We will play our part to support those affected by the economic downturn through meaningful jobs. For example, in Phase 2 of re-opening, agencies working with MSE have hired about 1,900 temporary staff from industries such as aviation and hospitality as Safe Distancing Ambassadors and SG Clean Ambassadors, who are helping to educate the public on safe distancing measures and promote positive social norms. We are also hiring more staff for our enhanced dengue management efforts.
Emerging Stronger Together
5 As we respond to immediate challenges, we look to the future to ensure that Singapore emerges stronger and more sustainable. In public health, we will further improve the way public health threats are managed. Besides scaling up Project Wolbachia as an important complement to our dengue fighting toolkit, we piloted a cutting-edge wastewater-based epidemiology programme that enables the early detection of COVID-19. We will explore how this programme can be scaled and applied to other infectious diseases.
A Green Recovery: Pushing on in Climate Action and Sustainability
6 We will keep sight of the longer-term existential threats from climate change. We will push for a green recovery from COVID-19, to support a competitive transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
7 MSE will drive and coordinate public sector efforts to take the lead in sustainable development, and ensure that sustainability is at the heart of the MSE family of agencies’ core functions. For example, we will develop Tuas Nexus to maximise energy and resource recovery by harnessing synergies between solid waste and water treatment processes; PUB will generate sufficient solar energy to power all of its local waterworks by 2021.
8 We will promote green growth, ride on opportunities from decarbonisation, and grow green industries such as carbon services and climate science. We will encourage and support companies to reduce their carbon footprint, and explore new private-public collaborations to make Singapore a leading example of how economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand.
9 We will invest heavily in research and development for climate action. The Climate Science Research Programme Office will be set up in end-2020 to drive efforts to formulate Singapore’s national climate science research masterplan. We have already launched a S$10 million National Sea Level Research Programme to develop more robust projections of rising sea levels, and we are setting aside dedicated resources in the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to protect Singapore against rising sea levels.
Safe, Secure, Sustainable Resources
10 The challenges of COVID-19 and climate change, together with other trade and environmental pressures, pose a threat to Singapore’s supply of critical resources like food and water. We will ensure that Singapore’s critical resources remain uncompromised for both present and future generations.
11 To enhance water security, we will continue to build up weather-resilient sources such as by expanding the Changi NEWater Factory. We will invest in technology to stay ahead of the curve in water management and conservation, including the rollout of smart meters in 300,000 premises by 2023. We aim to reduce household water consumption from 141 to 130 litres per capita per day by 2030.
12 To ensure food security, we will intensify efforts to diversify our imports, strengthen our food supply chains, and realise our goal to produce 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030 (’30 by 30’ goal). We will continue to unlock more spaces for farming, by encouraging sea-based farming in the deeper southern waters of Singapore, and bring food production closer to communities, such as on the rooftops of HDB multi-storey carparks. We will also masterplan Lim Chu Kang and develop the Agri-Food Innovation Park to create a vibrant and sustainable agri-food ecosystem and provide good job opportunities for the agri-food workforce.
13 In an increasingly resource-constrained world, we will continue to pursue Circular Economy approaches and work towards our vision of a zero-waste nation. Closing our resource loops locally and turning trash into treasure will reduce our vulnerability to global supply shocks and extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill. We are pushing boundaries in Circular Economy by transforming waste treatment residue into construction materials (or “NEWSand”), and discarded plastics into higher value products like pyrolysis oil (or “NEWOil”). We will also mandate key responsibilities to enable re-using and recycling nation-wide for our priority waste streams of food, e-waste, and packaging, and support the localisation of our recycling capabilities.
Creating Good Jobs: Training a Future-Ready Workforce
14 As we pursue sustainable development, the MSE family expects to create 4,000 new and upgraded jobs in the next year, and 55,000 over the next 10 years. As we strengthen food security, we will create skilled jobs in the high-tech agriculture and aquaculture industry. We will also continue to promote joint responsibility for food safety assurance with the industry by training more Food Hygiene Officers (FHOs) and Advanced FHOs, who will serve as food safety guardians at food establishments. As we raise environmental sanitation and waste management standards, this will create new good jobs for Singaporeans. We will review the Environmental Control Officer (ECO) scheme to broaden the work areas for ECOs beyond construction sites to more premises, which will create new opportunities for individuals like operations or facilities managers looking to establish high environmental standards in the premises they oversee. We will also help cleaning and waste management professionals enhance their skillset and take on more specialised roles in disinfection, recycling, or waste treatment.
15 We will develop a pipeline of talent to support sustainability in Singapore. MSE will offer scholarships for people passionate about our mission, in areas such as climate adaptation and climate science, and train a workforce that is ready for the sustainability challenges and opportunities of the future.
Working with all Singaporeans for a Sustainable Singapore
16 We are committed to achieving our long-term environmental goals by working together with partners in the People, Private and Public (3P) sectors. We will tap on their energy, experiences and ideas to co-create and co-deliver solutions for Singapore through consultations, collaborations, and initiatives such as Citizens’ Workgroups and SG Eco Towns. As part of SG Together, we are launching the $50 million SG Eco Fund to support projects on environmental sustainability. Available to the 3P sectors, this fund will enable every Singaporean to contribute to environmental sustainability.
17 MSE will do its part to keep Singapore at the forefront of public health, climate action, and resource security, with sustainability at the core. We ask all Singaporeans to work with us to make Singapore a green and liveable home and a global champion for sustainability.