Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at Sembcorp Sustainability Fair at Jurong-Clementi Town on 11 March 2023
Mr Lee Kok Kin, CEO of SembWaste, Sembcorp Industries,
Ms Jen Tan, Head of Renewable Business, Singapore and Indonesia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon to all!
2 It is a pleasure to join you here at the Sembcorp Sustainability Fair. The sustainability fair is the first of its kind in Jurong-Clementi Town! I hope that you will be able to take away insights into some of the sustainability solutions that are being implemented in Singapore. Or perhaps be inspired to upskill and explore a career in the sustainability space.
The challenge of climate change
3 Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation, and we are already experiencing its impacts. I’m sure many recall the prolonged heavy downpours over the past two weeks. This was uncharacteristic, as February tends to be the dry phase of the monsoon season. In fact, NEA found that for the month of February, Singapore received one and a half times more rain than the average. 28th February – which is now our wettest February day on record – saw a daily total rainfall of 225.5mm,
placing it in the top one percent of such records in Singapore. While this single weather event does not suggest climate change conclusively, it is an example of a phenomenon that we are seeing with greater frequency and intensity, and more commonly in many parts of the world. Despite the prolonged heavy downpours, our drains, canals, and waterways held up well. This is due to decades of efforts to improve our drainage infrastructure, which has significantly reduced our flood-prone areas from 3,200 hectares in the 1970s to less than 30 hectares today. The Government has invested around $2 billion on drainage improvement works in the last decade alone, and will continue to do so. In fact, in the next half decade, we will invest $1.4 billion to further improve the drainage system.In the past few weeks, PUB has doubled the frequency of its maintenance checks at locations with higher flood risks. These include maintenance activities such as removing debris, litter, and leaves, to ensure that our drains can channel rainwater effectively. PUB has also implemented a network of water-level sensors and CCTVs to monitor the real-time conditions of drains and roads. PUB’s quick response teams will be deployed on site to provide timely assistance and keep members of the public out of harm’s way in the event of flash floods. I am glad to note that there were no flash flood incidents reported during this period of time. We will continue to enhance our infrastructure and expand our capabilities in this very important area of climate adaptation, with the launch of the new dedicated Coastal Protection and Flood Management Research Programme. The Programme will provide $125 million to develop local expertise and strengthen long-termcoastal protection and inland flood management capabilities in Singapore.
Singapore’s efforts to address climate change
4 Sustainability has always been part of Singapore’s development since our independence. We are committed to addressing climate change. Last year, we raised our climate ambition to achieve net zero by 2050. And we have made good progress on the Singapore Green Plan 2030 since its launch two years ago. Under the GreenGov.SG initiative, the public sector has committed to achieving net zero emissions around 2045, which is five years ahead of our national target. Last week, at my Ministry’s Committee of Supply debates, I shared that the Government will publish an annual GreenGov.SG report to show our efforts, progress, and plans. Statutory boards will also make their annual environmental sustainability disclosures from FY2024. The Government will also adopt sustainability criteria for major tenders from 2024, starting with construction and ICT tenders.
5 But the Government’s efforts alone are not sufficient for Singapore to achieve its climate goals. We will partner closely with businesses, academia, the community, and individuals as we address climate change as a nation.
SembCorp’s sustainability efforts
6 Sembcorp, with its best-in-class capabilities in energy and urban solutions, has actively contributed to our nation’s decarbonisation journey. Sembcorp has been partnering HDB and EDB on the SolarNova programme, to accelerate the deployment of solar PV systems in Singapore. This includes blocks under the Jurong-Clementi Town
Council. Beyond Singapore, Sembcorp launched its carbon management platform, GoNetZero, at COP27. One of GoNetZero’s partnerships, with OCBC Bank, encourages clean energy adoption and decarbonisation, starting with Singaporean companies and scaling up to the region.
Jurong-Clementi Town Council’s sustainability efforts
7 The Jurong-Clementi Town Council has also worked with stakeholders to co-create and implement sustainability initiatives in our towns. The Town Council will continue to work closely with Sembcorp to harness solar energy to power the common facilities, which will help us deal with the rising costs in managing our estates. This is
alongside other cost-saving measures such as improving the efficiency of our operations (e.g. use of hydraulic machines for waste collection and water-saving jets for cleaning), installing LED lights in our towns, and leveraging bulk procurements to enjoy greater economy of scale. The Town Council has promoted upcycling initiatives – such as collaborating with ChopValue to upcycle used disposable chopsticks, into furniture, homewares, and accessories; and with LifeLine Clothing to upcycle used or unwanted clothing and cloths into new items. The Town Council has set up community gardens and allotment gardens to promote sustainable local food production practices; and facilitated the composting of organic food waste from hawker centres and wet markets for use in the gardens. These initiatives will help reduce the carbon and resource footprint of our towns, and involve the public, private, and people sectors in fostering a more sustainable way of life.
Opportunities in the green economy
8 In the transition to a green economy, many sustainability-related jobs will be created in both existing and emerging sectors. For instance, as more buildings and transport systems go green, skills such as Green Facilities Management are seeing demand growth of more than 2,000 percent. Other emerging areas such as
urban farming and food technologies are also seeing high demand for related skills as we build up our local agri-food industry. Green skills will become an increasingly horizontal skillset, cutting across different industries and job functions, from finance, legal to engineering. This also means that they are highly transferable, and are ‘no regrets’ moves for workers to upskill in. In fact, we are working closely with our universities to incorporate sustainability as a core module in their courses.
9 To prepare companies and workers for this transition, the Government has worked with tripartite partners to roll out training programmes at various levels. These include Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Sustainability Programmes for business executives and sector-specific programmes such as Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme for sustainability professionals. Further, the Ministry of Trade and Industry recently announced that it will set up a Green Skills Committee to bring together industry players and training providers to develop green skills in the local workforce that are relevant to industry needs. For a start, the focus
will be on training workers to conduct sustainability reporting and equipping them with the skills to operate in new growth areas in the energy sector, such as renewable energy and energy storage systems.
10 I encourage those who are interested in the sustainability space to explore the breadth of career opportunities, across the renewable energy, carbon markets, and resource management sectors.
11 To conclude, the impetus to address climate change and pursue sustainable development is very clear. The Government will continue to partner the public, private, and people sectors to advance our decarbonisation and resilience efforts. And while it will be a challenging journey, the transition will also open up new and exciting possibilities. I look forward to seeing more businesses and our workforce seizing opportunities in the green economy.
12 Have a great rest of the afternoon at the Fair. Thank you.