Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship Virtual Award Ceremony, on Tuesday, 22 September 2020
A very good morning to all.
2 Thank you for joining us at the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship Award Ceremony. We would normally hold this ceremony at the Environment Building where our office is located but because of COVID, we are conducting it virtually. I’m delighted that we are still able to come together to celebrate this meaningful event.
3 In July, our Ministry was renamed the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (or MSE), to better reflect the Government’s commitment to put sustainability at the core of everything we do. It’s not just in MSE, but all Government agencies. We will press on with major initiatives in carbon mitigation, coastal protection, zero waste and circular economy, as well as food and water security.
4 In line with our Ministry’s name change, the National Environment and Water, or NEW scholarships have also been renamed as the Singapore Sustainability Scholarships. This year, we are awarding scholarships to 22 young persons who want to pursue a career to strengthen environmental resilience and sustainability for Singapore. Congratulations to our newest scholarship recipients and a warm welcome to our MSE family.
Towards a Green Recovery from COVID-19: A Leaner, Stronger and Kinder Singapore
5 The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted global economic activity, and devastated lives and livelihoods. Many Singaporeans feel uncertain about their future. But the pandemic also presents new opportunities to build back stronger and secure a greener future. A sustainable nation is a resilient one, and our recovery from COVID-19 will need to be built on sustainable principles.
6 MSE’s immediate priority is to work towards a cleaner and safer Singapore, as a first line of defence against the transmission of COVID-19 and public health threats like dengue. We will strengthen our environmental sanitation controls, upgrade public health infrastructure in hawker centres and coffeeshops, and rally Singaporeans to uplift and sustain cleanliness and public hygiene norms.
7 We also want to help build a leaner, a stronger and a kinder Singapore.
8 A Leaner Singapore is one which is closer to zero waste, and more efficient in our use of resources. MSE is working with the industry and community to pursue circular economy approaches in production and consumption. We will be able to extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill and move towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation.
9 COVID-19 has underscored the need for Singapore to safeguard our supply of critical resources, while the existential threat of climate change will further aggravate this challenge. We must therefore build a Stronger Singapore with increased resilience in our food and water supplies, a more climate-resilient green economy and future-ready infrastructure. This will ensure that Singapore’s critical resources remain uncompromised for both present and future generations.
10 To enhance water security, we will continue to build up weather-resilient sources. To strengthen food security, we have been diversifying our imports, and working to ramp up local production. By 2030, we aim to meet 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs with local produce. We call this our “30 by 30” goal.
11 Last, we are working to build a Kinder Singapore ― where citizens show care for one another and for the environment we share. By picking up after ourselves and not littering, we not only keep our public spaces clean, but also help to alleviate the workload of our cleaners.
How MSE Family officers can make a difference
12 Through the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship, we hope to develop a pipeline of talent to support sustainable development in Singapore. As a new member of the MSE family, you have an important role to play in achieving this goal. Let me give you a few examples of how some of our scholars have contributed.
13 Mr Pang Hao Yang works at the Eastern Regional Office under NEA’s Environmental Public Health Operations Group. Hao Yang manages vector control operations, including dengue. Since COVID-19 hit us, Hao Yang has also taken up additional duties as a Safe Distancing Enforcement Officer in wet markets and hawker centres.
14 Like Hao Yang, Mr Alex Ng is part of the team at SFA’s Northwest Regional Office, which carries out inspection and enforcement activities on food establishments. Alex, together with his colleagues, makes regular checks on food establishments to ensure that food is prepared in a safe manner.
15 Ms Vernice Toh is an electrical engineer from PUB’s Water Supply (Plants) Department. She is responsible for the maintenance, replacement and improvement of electrical equipment at Chestnut Avenue Waterworks. She is also part of the team looking into the deployment of floating solar panels at Upper Peirce Reservoir.
16 This experience of interacting with hawkers, stall holders and technicians and at times dealing with difficult people while enforcing will no doubt enrich Hao Yang, Alex and Vernice’s life skills. It will also enable them to gain an appreciation of the difficulties of our officers on the ground. There is no better way for our scholars to start their career – and that is with solid ground experience! And my word of advice here – with humility, we can all learn a lot from our hawkers and our colleagues who may not be very educated but have much wisdom that life has given them.
17 Let me conclude by congratulating all our scholars and your parents. To our scholars, you would not be where you are today without the support of your families and teachers. Take some time to thank your parents, teachers and family members for their support.
18 The journey ahead will be challenging and exciting. I look forward to your contributions in the coming years, to help build a sustainable Singapore.
Thank you, and congratulations.