Keynote Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Ricoh Eco Action Day 2021: The Future of Work on 26 August 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon, everyone.
2 It has been more than one-and-a-half years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. Many of us are now used to working from home and conducting virtual meetings with the use of teleconferencing tools. Today's hybrid event is the result of our adaptation to the new normal.
3 Although countries around the world are progressively opening up their borders, it is certainly not business-as-usual. We have seen how the pandemic has impacted supply chains and livelihoods, disrupting businesses and societies. Climate change will also have a massive impact. Against the backdrop of these two drivers shaping the world, it is essential that we pursue a green recovery that will allow us to build a resilient nation into the future.
4 This year, the Government launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation movement to advance Singapore's national agenda on sustainable development. The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete sectoral targets over the next ten years, which will influence all aspects of our lives. How does this affect the future of work? Let me outline three examples.
BUILDING A GREEN ECONOMY
5 First, under the Green Economy pillar of the Green Plan, we will harness sustainability as a competitive advantage and new engine of growth to create green jobs and transform our industries. To thrive in a low-carbon future, companies will have to embed sustainability in their business operations, from being more efficient in the use of finite resources to promoting sustainability as a corporate culture.
6 The public sector will lead by example in driving sustainability. Under the GreenGov.SG initiative, we will introduce ambitious targets, including for carbon, energy, water and waste. These will apply to the whole spectrum of public sector operations, from government offices and schools, to key infrastructure such as water plants and healthcare facilities. Government agencies will use environment-friendly building products, as well as the most efficient water fittings and electrical appliances. Companies' sustainability-related policies and practices will also be factored in when evaluating government tenders. We hope that these measures will catalyse the demand for greener buildings and products, as well as influence our service providers and suppliers to be more sustainable.
7 Industries will evolve to tap into new areas of green growth, such as the circular economy, green finance and R&D for sustainable solutions. Earlier this month, the National Environment Agency announced the establishment of its $3 billion Multicurrency Medium Term Note (or MTN) Programme and its Green Bond framework. Proceeds from the issuance of Notes under the MTN Programme will be used to finance sustainable infrastructure development projects. This includes the Tuas Nexus Integrated Waste Management Facility, Singapore's first integrated facility to treat incinerable waste, source-segregated food waste and dewatered sludge. Issuance of green bonds will help channel the flow of capital to develop sustainable infrastructure and the requisite technology. At the same time, the development of infrastructure such as Tuas Nexus will help to boost our recycling efforts and move Singapore closer towards a circular economy.
8 Second, technology will transform the way we work. For example, a start-up called Lumitics uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the quantity and category of food that is thrown away at F&B establishments. This helps businesses to track their food waste and plan their inventory more accurately. AI can also be used in the financial sector to analyse data for risk management and to inform decision-making.
9 Technology can also help firms to become more climate resilient. Many of our local vegetable farms have tapped on the $63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund to adopt climate-control technologies that mitigate adverse weather conditions, thereby raising their production capacity. For example, through Internet of Things (IoT) data analytics, farms are able to control environmental conditions such as light as well as track temperature and the growth of crops.
10 Finally, partnerships will continue to play an important role in future. To tackle challenges like climate change, all of us must work together to pool resources and enable collective action. I commend Ricoh for running your 15th Eco Action Day campaign this year, to spur ground-up support for the UN SDGs through pledges for climate action as well as distribution of seeds to encourage Singaporeans to grow local.
11 To empower the People, Private and Public sectors to take ownership of the environment, I am happy to announce that we are launching the second grant call for the SG Eco Fund today. The $50 million SG Eco Fund was set up in 2020 to support ground-up projects that involve the community and advance environmental sustainability in Singapore. Earlier this year, a total of 37 projects were awarded $3.7 million in funding under the first grant call.
12 For the second grant call, we are adding a new "Sprout" funding category to spur more ground-up action. The Sprout category offers a simpler application process for projects seeking funding of up to $10,000. Instead of a written proposal, applicants will only need to submit a pitch deck and present their ideas to the evaluation committee if shortlisted.
13 The SG Eco Fund is open to individuals, businesses and NGOs who wish to address a broad range of sustainability-related issues. These may include climate change mitigation, waste reduction, and nature and biodiversity conservation. I encourage everyone with innovative ideas, especially those with the potential for long-term impact, to apply for the Fund.
14 Let me conclude. Businesses have an increasingly important role to play in building a sustainable future for Singapore, be it rallying the ground to take action or creating value for society. I encourage all of you to collaborate with partners from the 3P sectors to co-create solutions, achieve synergies and advance your sustainability agenda. By doing so, we will be able to build back stronger and better as a nation, together.