Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Hacking the New Normal Sustainability Hackathon on 26 March 2021
Good afternoon everyone.
2 Let me begin by thanking *SCAPE for organising this hackathon. The participation of 14 teams and 59 youths is encouraging.
Role of youths in addressing climate change
3 I am heartened that Singaporean youths are increasingly taking lead in climate action, by raising awareness on environmental and sustainability issues, and organising ground-up initiatives to rally our community. Let me cite two examples.
4 Last year, Singapore Youth for Climate Action, a ground-up community organisation, developed a Citizen's Guide to Disposing E-Waste in Singapore. This helps to improve awareness and encourages proper disposal of electronic waste, which is an important aspect of becoming a Zero Waste Nation.
5 Earlier this month, Eric Bea from the NUS Asia Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Melissa Low from the Energy Studies Institute helped to organise a youth dialogue on the 26th Annual Conference of Parties (or COP26), in partnership with the British High Commission in Singapore, the Embassy of Italy in Singapore and the National Youth Council. The dialogue provided a platform for youths to share their concerns on sustainability and climate change, and enabled the exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources.
6 The Government has been working closely with youths to tap on their ideas and expertise. Through platforms such as the Youth Circle, we have partnered youth leaders to identify trends and key issues of concern that allow for co-deliberation, and enabled youths to embark on initiatives such as engaging stakeholders on measures to reduce food waste.
7 Youths can also influence business decisions. Studies have shown that millennials desire to invest in companies with good Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (or ESG) track records. The growing demand for green goods and services has led to a positive impetus for more companies to implement sustainable business models.
Building a Green Economy
8 This hackathon is timely. The Government recently launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030. This is a national movement, which seeks to nurture a green citizenry, help businesses make a competitive transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future, and ensure Singapore remains a green and sustainable home. All five topics of this hackathon are closely related to sustainability, and your ideas from this journey have the potential to bring us closer to the ambitious and concrete targets that we have set out to achieve over the next 10 years under the Green Plan.
9 One of the key pillars of the Green Plan is Green Economy. Under this pillar, we will seek green growth opportunities, transform our industries and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage. To help our local enterprises develop capabilities to capture these new opportunities, the Government will introduce an Enterprise Sustainability Programme. The Programme will have three key thrusts: 1) Support enterprises to develop capabilities in sustainability,; 2) Support enterprises to develop new products, services and solutions; 3) Strengthen the sustainability business ecosystem by working with industry partners.
10 There will be career opportunities in several sectors, including high-tech agriculture, food safety and green finance. We expect to see high demand for skills to help corporates navigate the complexities of the green transition. Our youths, like yourselves, will be well-positioned to capture these new opportunities.
11 You can find examples of such opportunities among the initiatives started by the hackathon mentors and judges. One of these mentors, Chu Wong, is the Founder of Shop Bettr which is a business that encourages sustainable fashion. Judge Elias Tan is the Director at Nut Culture, which produces vegan cheeses that cater to alternative food diets, and also help to reduce pressure on livestock supply chains.
12 Ideas from youths cannot take flight without a suitable platform to nurture their growth. Today's hackathon is a good opportunity for youths to dive deep into sustainability issues and come up with business plans to tackle these challenges under their mentors' guidance. Through such initiatives, *SCAPE seeks to encourage more youths to conceive out-of-the-box business solutions in this new normal, and address the associated key challenges. At the same time, MNCs, SMEs and startups can gain fresh insights from the youths. This will take us a step forward to developing sustainability as an engine of growth for Singapore.
13 To conclude, I would like to congratulate the finalists and wish you all the best for your presentations later. I also thank all participants, judges and mentors for contributing your ideas, time and effort to this hackathon. I urge everyone to continue to pursue your passion, and to develop innovative solutions that will help build a sustainable future for Singapore.