Remarks by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Virtual Conference On Sustainability by the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, on Wednesday, 12 August 2020
Mr Jens Ruebbert, President of the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, or SGC
Mr Christoph Hallier, Charge d’affaires of the German Embassy in Singapore
Mr Nikolas Stürchler, Deputy Head of Mission / Counsellor of the Swiss Embassy in Singapore
Members of SGC
1 A very good morning to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you for this conference on sustainability. I would like to thank the SGC for organising this event, and Mr Jens Ruebbert and esteemed members of the SGC for presenting me with a copy of the Grün [Groon] Book earlier this morning. I congratulate the SGC, Advantage Austria and the Swiss Embassy on its successful publication.
2 My Ministry – the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment – and the National Environment Agency were glad to support and contribute to this Book. It covers waste management and recycling practices, and possible collaborations between Singapore and Germany, as well as Austria and Switzerland, such as in closing the plastics loop through innovative plastic recycling technology. These countries are known for their waste management and recycling technologies. I look forward to advancing these discussions between our countries.
A Stronger Emphasis on Sustainability amidst Challenges
3 Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way in which we live, work and play has changed dramatically, and some of these changes may well be permanent. As countries continue to battle the outbreak and gradually restore economic activity, we must not waver in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Neither should we miss the opportunity to build a cleaner, greener and more sustainable post COVID-19 world.
4 Singapore will play our part to fight climate change, and seize the growth opportunities that stem from these efforts. My Ministry was recently renamed the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment to reflect an even stronger emphasis on sustainable development in our national agenda. We are developing our capabilities in climate science and implementing island-wide coastal protection measures. We are undertaking a full suite of carbon mitigation measures, and de-carbonisation efforts to help energy-intensive sectors transit to a low-carbon future.
5 As Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of our food, we are vulnerable to disruptions in global supply chains arising from volatilities of the global food market, impacts of climate change, and disease outbreaks. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of strengthening our resource resilience. To encourage our local agri-food players to use highly productive farming systems to ramp up local production over the next six to 24 months, we launched a $30 million “30x30 Express” grant call this year.
6 We will also strengthen our water resilience, and ensure that our Four National Taps – imported water, water from local catchment, NEWater and desalinated water – continue to supply sufficient water to meet the needs of our people into the future. Just like how we recycle our used water to produce NEWater, we are also adopting a circular economy approach to reuse and recycle our resources to turn trash into treasure. Our strategies to make Singapore a Zero Waste Nation are outlined in our Zero Waste Masterplan, which was published last year.
7 Adopting circular economy approaches will generate new opportunities for businesses and people. We already have a vibrant waste management and recycling industry in Singapore. Plans are underway to expand our local recycling capabilities and to close our food waste, e-waste, and plastic waste loops. These initiatives will create new jobs in emerging areas, such as engineering, robotics and automation. They will also put local companies in a position to export these solutions. These developments will strengthen Singapore’s economic resilience.
8 Pursuing sustainability through adopting innovative processes to achieve greater resource efficiency will give businesses a competitive advantage in the future economy. It will also have strong resonance with consumers who are increasingly environmentally-conscious.
Collaborating with Global Like-Minded Partners
9 The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which came into force last year, commits the EU and Singapore to protecting environmental standards. The SGC has played an active role in furthering partnerships and ideas in the field of sustainability. This includes organising many events, such as the annual Energy Efficiency in Buildings symposium, and the Innovative Solutions for the Water Industry symposium, in close cooperation with PUB, our national water agency. These efforts are a testament to the partnerships between our countries.
10 In particular, we have seen how companies from Germany and Singapore benefitted from these partnerships. For example, German environmental solutions company, Alba Group, recently partnered local waste management company, Wah & Hua, to secure the public waste collection contract for the Jurong region in Singapore. I am heartened by their efforts to introduce innovative solutions into their waste collection systems, to improve sustainability and productivity. This includes electrifying their waste collection trucks and using sensors to monitor refuse level for greater efficiency in waste collection.
11 I believe that Singapore and Germany are well-placed to help address the waste challenges in the South-East Asia region by deploying cutting-edge technologies and solutions. There is immense potential for greater research and exchanges in recycling which will generate economic opportunities and green jobs. In addition to working with like-minded partners in Europe, we will continue to find common ground with global partners and support international efforts to collectively address climate and sustainability issues.
12 Let me conclude. I am encouraged to know that the SGC is pursuing the theme of ‘Sustainable Growth’ this year, which builds on their discussions over recent years on topics such as Fish Farming in the 21st century, Future of Vertical Farming and Green Financing. We look forward to new opportunities for collaboration with Germany and the SGC to address common environmental challenges and to chart our path towards a sustainable future.