SICC Awards Ceremony and Gala - Ms Grace Fu
Opening Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister For Sustainability and the Environment, at the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) Awards Ceremony and Gala on 19 October 2021
Mr Per Magnusson, Chairman, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC)
Mr Victor Mills, Chief Executive, SICC
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening to all of you.
2 I am pleased to join you today for the SICC Awards ceremony. The Awards celebrate innovation and collaboration — elements which have always been important for businesses to thrive. They provide opportunities to improve productivity, develop new products and expand into new markets. Now, more than before, such partnerships between organisations are essential in addressing the existential threat of climate change.
3 About three weeks ago, I was at the United Nations Climate Change Pre-conference, also known as preCOP26. It was the last informal meeting to take stock of the progress made to the Paris Agreement and exchange views on the negotiations before COP26 next month. The meeting laid out the immense work that lies ahead of us, and reinforced the importance of collective action in meeting our climate goals. No single country or entity can do it alone and everyone has a role to play in advancing climate action.
4 Earlier this year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation movement to advance Singapore's national agenda on sustainable development. The Green Plan sets out ambitious and concrete sectoral targets under five key pillars — City in Nature, Sustainable Living, Energy Reset, Green Economy and Resilient Future. All pillars present opportunities for collaborative innovation as Singapore transitions towards a low-carbon future. Let me share three ways in which partnerships can help businesses become more sustainable.
5 First, innovation and collaboration are key to mitigating climate change, by reducing and capturing CO2 emissions, and exploring alternative low-carbon energy. Businesses can provide much needed resources for R&D and commercialisation as the world searches for solutions to decarbonise at scale. The Government has launched a S$49 million Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative to support research, development, and demonstration projects in low-carbon energy technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). It will guide private consortiums on the deployment of low-carbon solutions and the development of the hydrogen supply chain. This is an area the oil and gas sector can potentially contribute in. Identifying synergies on Jurong Island can give us an advantage in transforming the Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park.
6 Partnerships across different industries are also valuable through horizontal adoption of technology. Many of you will be familiar with Singapore's water story, and how we have closed the water loop through the development of NEWater. Today, we continue to push frontiers to reduce energy intensity and carbon emissions from water recycling. We are looking into biomimetic membranes to improve NEWater recovery with no increase in energy consumption. This membrane technology has the potential to be applied in other areas, such as in kidney dialysis devices in the biomedical field.
7 Second, businesses contribute solutions for climate adaptation. The latest IPCC report suggests increased levels of warming, global precipitation and sea level rise by 2100 largely due to human influences. These could have an amplified effect on Singapore. Extreme weather patterns affect crops and impact transportation and energy, disrupting supply chains. We are seeing all these unfolding in front of our eyes as we speak. Sea level rise also poses physical risks to assets and infrastructure.
8 Through collaborative innovation, businesses can overcome these challenges. Our farms, for instance, are partnering technology solution providers to ramp up their productivity and reduce vulnerability to external environmental changes. Our farmers are able to cultivate vegetables indoors in a controlled environment with artificial lighting. Using smart sensors, parameters such as temperature and humidity are detected and automatically adjusted to optimise the environment for growth.
9 One of the finalists for the SICC Awards is a project by Hocklim Engineering, NTU and HDB to enhance a GeoBarrier System. The project will serve to maintain earth retention and slope stability during intense rainfall. As we expect more extreme rainfall events in Singapore, this innovative solution will help to strengthen our adaptation measures.
10 Third, as the world witnesses the emergence of alternative forms of energy, and ways of production and consumption, new businesses will emerge and our companies will do well to ride the wave of sustainability, which will be a new engine for growth and jobs in Singapore.
11 Building on our reputation as a trusted financial and business hub in the region, we have the ambition to develop Singapore as a carbon trading and services hub. Arising from the Government's Emerging Stronger Taskforce Alliance for Action on Sustainability, DBS, SGX, Standard Chartered Bank and Temasek announced their plans in May to develop the Climate Impact Exchange. This will be a carbon exchange and marketplace for companies to access high-quality carbon offsets. Through satellite monitoring, machine learning and block chain technologies, it will address the need for transparency, quality and integrity of carbon credits.
12 In our pursuit of a circular economy, where waste is recovered as a resource instead of being discarded, we aim to reduce the amount of waste sent to our landfill by 30 per cent by 2030. I am encouraged by Sembcorp Solar Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic's project to recycle used solar panels and address photovoltaic waste. This will have useful applications as we scale up our solar energy deployment.
13 In another partnership, Dow Chemical and B.T. Sports developed an environmentally friendly surface material for tennis courts. This new material allows for almost immediate play after rain as it allows the rainwater to permeate below the play surface, and removes the need to deploy water rollers, which are susceptible to wear and tear. Of course, this is fantastic news for tennis players out there. So it is not only environmentally friendly, it is also useful to facility owners. These creative ideas will help to extend the lifespan of our landfill and maximise the utility of our resources, while providing new areas of growth for businesses.
14 Let me conclude. Innovation and partnerships are beneficial for businesses as they transform to become more sustainable. Such initiatives also help companies to mitigate risks and tap on new opportunities that arise from climate change. The Government will support companies in the green transition and development of sustainable products through various grants and programmes.
15 I thank SICC for encouraging businesses to innovate and collaborate, and offer my heartiest congratulations to finalists and winners from all four award categories. I hope you continue to find ways to innovate and work together to build a more resilient and sustainable Singapore.
Thank you very much.