Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, on 19 July 2023
Madam President, Excellencies.
2 Singapore is a small island city-state with no natural resources or a hinterland.
3 We have pursued sustainable development since independence, balancing economic development with environmental sustainability.
4 At Singapore’s first VNR in 2018, we shared our development story and our efforts towards achieving the SDGs.
5 Since then, we have maintained our commitment to build a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society.
Advancing Sustainable Development
6 Two years ago, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation blueprint aligned with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
7 It charts out ambitious and concrete targets to support our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
8 Under the Green Plan, we have five pillars of workstreams. For example, in City in Nature, we plan to add more green spaces for our people. In Resilient Future, we are formulating coastal adaptation measures to address sea level rise.
9 The Green Plan will transform the way Singaporeans live, work, and play.
10 The public sector will take the lead. It has committed to reach net zero around 2045, five years ahead of the national target, and will strengthen green procurement policies to spur the development of green products and services.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
11 Though Singapore is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, our people enjoy universal access to clean water. Our robust Four National Taps system ensures safe and secure water supply – water from local catchments, imported water, desalinated water, and treated used water, which we call NEWater.
12 We are redoubling our efforts to improve the efficiency and resilience of our water infrastructure.
a) To make our water supply more climate-resilient, we will bolster NEWater production. As NEWater can be reused endlessly, it remains our game-changing solution for SDG 6.
b) At the same time, we target to reduce the energy consumption of desalination from 3.5 to less than 2 kilowatt-hour per cubic meter by 2025. Our newest desalination plant is co-located with a power plant, making it more energy efficient through synergies and resource-sharing.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
13 Energy efficiency is especially important for Singapore as a small and dense city-state with limited alternative energy options. While it remains challenging for Singapore to achieve our net-zero goal, we have mapped out possible pathways and strategies for our energy transition in the Energy 2050 Committee Report.
14 Solar power, hydrogen, and electricity imports will play key roles.
a) We have grown our capacity for solar power – our most viable renewable energy source – by more than four times since our last VNR.
b) We have launched a National Hydrogen Strategy to accelerate decarbonisation in the power and industry sectors, as well as the maritime and aviation sectors.
c) We are partnering neighbouring countries on energy cooperation. Together, we hope to unlock Southeast Asia’s potential for renewable energy and cross-border electricity trade.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
15 The low-carbon future offers economic opportunities. Singapore is transforming our economy to participate in new growth areas.
16 We foster the innovation of low-carbon solutions and green financing, which will help to grow the green economy in Singapore and beyond. For example, we are collaborating with the industry on hydrogen deployment, and investing in innovations in carbon capture, utilisation, and storage.
17 We apply carbon tax to encourage decarbonisation. Singapore is the only country in Southeast Asia to implement a broad-based carbon tax, which covers 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions. We will raise our carbon tax progressively over the next few years, further enhancing the business case for the development and deployment of low-carbon solutions.
Promoting Inclusiveness and Digitalisation
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
18 Our central goal is to create a home that is sustainable, resilient, and inclusive for our people. COVID-19 provided us with valuable lessons, reminding us that we are only as strong as our weakest.
19 COVID-19 forced us to adapt quickly and harness technology to support our nation-wide response.
a) When we introduced TraceTogether for contact tracing during the pandemic, we provided two options – a smartphone application and a physical token – to ensure that all communities, including the less tech-savvy, were protected.
b) Under the SG United initiative, we rallied all segments of our society to exercise their community spirit, by checking on our seniors, helping them to secure vaccinations, and giving them digital support.
c) COVID-19 also laid bare some gaps to address, such as social norms on gender roles. We gathered feedback and suggestions from nearly 6,000 persons and co-created the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development last year. It encapsulated our shared values of fairness, equality, respect, and solidarity, and set out concrete action plans in the areas most salient to Singapore women.
d) For example, in strengthening our laws to enhance workplace fairness, and enhancing support for caregivers, who are often women.
20 Overall, Singapore emerged stronger, together, from COVID-19. We will continue to learn from experiences, and work towards a fairer and more inclusive society. Now, I would like to introduce Ms Farah Sanwari, our youth representative, who will share her experiences in community engagement.
Presentation on FiTree/ ForwardSG (Farah)
21 Thank you Minister. As we learned in dealing with COVID-19, trust is a key success factor. Singapore is reinforcing trust and strengthening our social compact through the Forward Singapore exercise.
a) It comprises a series of engagements to consider and discuss the values, priorities, and trade-offs needed for the next bound of Singapore’s development journey.
b) Since its launch, over 14,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life have participated in about 140 engagement sessions.
22 Last year, I had the opportunity to moderate a national youth dialogue on Achieving Net Zero by 2050, with panellists across government, private sector, academia, and civil society groups. I was heartened that many youths, like myself, expressed their concerns and aspirations for our future.
23 Beyond dialogues, youth leaders are also encouraged to collaborate with the government on public policy. Under the National Youth Council’s Youth Circles initiative, youth leaders work alongside ministries to co-develop and co-implement policies and programmes. In 2019, I was part of the Youth Circle that studied food waste and how a Good Samaritan Law Food Donation Act might encourage donation of surplus or unsold food to the needy, while ensuring food safety.
24 In my personal capacity, I co-founded FiTree, an Islamic environmental group; and Repair Kopitiam, a community of repair enthusiasts who believe in giving used appliances a second life. In 2021, Repair Kopitiam and industry partners, SGTech and Meta, launched eRevival Square, a campaign to educate the public on e-waste recycling and the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme in Singapore. Through such cross-sector partnerships, we can collectively achieve more impactful and transformational outcomes.
Pursuing Sustainable Development Together
SDG 17: Partnership for Goals
25 And I agree with you, Farah. Such partnerships, especially cross-border partnerships, are essential for the global community to achieve the SDGs.
26 Singapore has benefited from the support of international partners and friends, especially during our early years.
27 To pay it forward, Singapore has provided technical assistance to fellow developing countries through the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
28 Over the last three decades, close to 150,000 officials have participated in courses under the programme, in areas such as education, sustainable development, urban planning, and transport management.
a) Last year, we launched the Sustainability Action Package to cover sustainability themes such as adaptation and resilience, green project management and financing, low carbon development, and carbon markets.
b) We hope that these will empower fellow developing countries as we work towards achieving the SDGs together.
29 In conclusion, Singapore is a firm believer of the sustainable development model. We embrace the SDGs in our national policies so that our people can have a better life and fulfil their potential.
30 As we learn from each other’s experiences and best practices, we acknowledge that countries must tailor solutions that best meet its national circumstances and contexts.
31 Yet, global challenges such as climate change require us, as one global community, to work together for global solutions. We must continue to foster international partnerships, to build a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive future that leaves no one behind.
31 Thank you.