Closing Remarks by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Youth Action Challenge Season 4 Final Open Mic (Environment & Sustainability Theme) on 28 January 2023
Good morning everyone!
1 I am happy to be here at the Youth Action Challenge (YAC) Season 4 Final Open Mic. I had the pleasure of being a judge in the first YAC season back in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit. On behalf of my fellow judges, I would like to commend all of you for your creative proposals to bring sustainability closer to our everyday lives.
Youth Action Challenge
2 The SG Youth Action Plan is a national initiative for youths to envision what the future of Singapore could be like in 2025. Thousands of youths have contributed to this vision, which calls for an inclusive, sustainable, and progressive Singapore; a home where we care for one another and have a fair shot at realising our dreams.
3 The YAC is a key driver of the SG Youth Action Plan. It provides opportunities for youths to take action on issues you care deeply about. Through the YAC, you have met youth leaders, industry experts, government representatives, and peers from different backgrounds. I hope these interactions were useful and have sparked off ideas. Teams with feasible and innovative proposals will receive funding to bring their ideas to fruition.
Singapore’s efforts to pursue sustainable development
4 This season’s YAC focuses on raising awareness on sea-level rise and coastal protection under the environment and sustainability theme. As for the sustainable lifestyle sub-theme, it focuses on reducing waste, in line with Singapore’s ambition to become a zero waste nation. Let me share some thoughts on our zero waste ambition.
5 Over the years, Singapore’s domestic waste generation has increased in tandem with economic growth. As our nation progresses towards sustainable development, there is greater urgency to transition from a linear economy of ‘take-make-use-throw’, to a circular one where we reuse and recycle, as well as produce and consume sustainably. How then do we raise our national consciousness and galvanise people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?
6 The Government will lead these efforts with our policies. Let me share some brief examples.
- This year, we are working to implement a disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets, to nudge people to consider what they really need, instead of taking bags freely.
- We are also proposing to implement a beverage container return scheme (BCRS), to encourage the return of clean and high quality recyclables, and cultivate better recycling habits.
Forward Singapore – A Whole-of-Nation effort to adopt greener lifestyles
7 However, it is not possible for the Government to build a sustainable Singapore on its own. It requires the collective efforts of all stakeholders, for the community, businesses, and individuals to come forward to do our part. Under the Steward pillar of the Forward Singapore exercise, we are engaging the public and our partners to discuss our social compact, the trade-offs we need to manage, and how we can all contribute to environmental sustainability. For example, we recently concluded a public consultation on the BCRS, and will share our findings soon.
8 Businesses can contribute to our national sustainability agenda by launching their own zero waste initiatives that benefit the community. SembWaste, for example, is partnering students from Singapore Polytechnic to pilot a plastic bottle recycling initiative. The pilot aims to raise the recycling rate of plastic bottles in the Punggol precinct, and the results will be used to determine the most cost-effective and lowest carbon-footprint methods to harvest clean stream recyclables.
9 As consumers, we can drive change by supporting businesses with sustainable practices or products. We can also adopt sustainable habits – use reusables, think twice about buying clothes to keep up with the latest fashion trends, and refrain from buying excess food. You can start by making a Green Nation pledge as a commitment to adopt a greener lifestyle. Encourage your friends and families to join you in pledging too!
10 Beyond cultivating personal habits, there is much more that youths like yourselves can do to champion sustainable practices. I am glad that all of you here today have taken a strong interest in ideating solutions that help the wider community to cultivate green lifestyles. Team Noshinom for instance aims to tackle fruit waste by using flash-freezing technology to produce individually quick frozen products from ‘ugly’ fruits, while Team Worthy is creating a marketplace to help businesses give a second life to large quantities of items they no longer need.
11 The YAC is one of many platforms available for youths to ideate and pilot solutions for sustainability. If you need support to drive a sustainability initiative, you can tap on the National Youth Council’s Young Changemakers Grant, or the SG Eco Fund administered by my Ministry. We have provided seed funding through the SG Eco Fund to a few teams that emerged from the previous YAC season, such as Stridy, Earth School and K.sugi. I am heartened to see their projects progress beyond the YAC, and hope to see more youth-led projects take root in our community.
12 Let me conclude. I hope that you have enjoyed your journey in the YAC, made new friends, and gained knowledge along the way. Regardless of today’s Open Mic results, I encourage you to continue driving sustainability on the ground, and be the change that you want to see in our society.
13 Thank you to all the teams for the effort you have put in, and to the judges for your participation today. Have a great weekend!