Opening Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at LASALLE College Interdisciplinary Project Opening Ceremony, on 10 January 2022
Staff and students of LASALLE College
1 Good morning and a happy New Year to all. I thank LASALLE College for inviting me to speak at your Interdisciplinary Project Opening Ceremony.
Addressing Climate Change in a Post-COVID World
2 I am delighted that this year’s project topic is climate change. The topic is a timely one and lends itself well to interdisciplinary work.
3 While 2021 will be remembered for the pandemic, it has also been eventful for sustainable development. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow last November gave renewed hope for global climate action. Parties agreed to review and strengthen their climate pledges to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal. Singapore also contributed to the success of COP26 by co-facilitating ministerial consultations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on carbon market rules and working out an agreement amongst Parties. There is much work ahead of us but COP26 has laid a firm foundation for future progress.
4 As a low-lying island in the tropics, Singapore is especially vulnerable to sea-level rise. Extreme weather events can disrupt our supply of essential resources such as food and water. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these vulnerabilities and caused further economic and social disruption.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030
5 We launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 last year. The Green Plan’s aim is to galvanise whole-of-nation action on sustainability. It sets out a clear pathway towards our climate goals, with ambitious and concrete targets over the next decade. There has been considerable progress. The public, private and community sectors are working closely together to transition to more sustainable business operations and models. This should result in cost savings and improved competitiveness over time, as the world gradually shifts towards a low carbon economy. We are also investing in science and technology to protect our coastlines and enhance our food and water security.
6 Pursuing sustainable development is not an easy task, especially for Singapore. With limited land, manpower and access to renewable energy sources, we face much starker trade-offs than most other countries. To overcome these constraints, we embarked on careful long-term planning. We continue to push the boundaries on innovation that will help us transit to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future, to ensure Singapore remains a green and sustainable home.
7 Complex issues such as climate change require multiple disciplines to come together for solutions. Projects related to food waste, recycling and climate change mitigation are potential areas for interdisciplinary synergy.
8 As we pursue sustainable development, there will be new and exciting career opportunities in several sectors, including climate science, food safety, and green finance. We expect to see high demand for skills to help corporates navigate the complexities of the green transition. Our young people, like yourselves, will be well-positioned to capture these new opportunities.
9 There will be some costs which all of us will have to bear as we pursue sustainability. These include tangible costs which may manifest in higher prices for goods and services. We will need to allocate scarce resources to more sustainable solutions. As individuals, we can mitigate these costs by making changes to our lifestyle. For instance, we can conserve electricity and water, reduce food waste, recycle more, and encourage our family and friends to do likewise.
Importance of Collective Action
10 A sustainable future for Singapore can only be achieved by everyone working hand in hand. Each of you play an important role in shaping the future of Singapore and the world — not just for this generation, but the generations to come. You are also well-positioned to seize and create new opportunities for a low-carbon future.
11 Your ideas cannot take flight without a suitable platform to nurture your growth. Through LASALLE College’s Interdisciplinary Project, I hope you will be inspired to integrate art with environmental advocacy. Your projects can help raise awareness on multi-faceted issues such as climate change and rally ground-up action. I hope that this journey will spark your passion and creativity in brainstorming for interdisciplinary solutions to achieve our climate goals.
12 Let me conclude. We must take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change and put sustainability at the core of everything we do. The Green Plan will bring forth many new opportunities in our journey towards sustainability. I encourage all of you to harness these opportunities and galvanise climate action through your own spheres of influence in the creative circle and wider public to achieve a sustainable future for Singapore.