The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment Commemorates 50 Years of Building a Green and Resilient Singapore with Planting of 50 Trees
Singapore, 15 September 2022 – The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year with a series of meaningful activities to celebrate Singapore’s sustainability and environmental journey.
2 To mark the Ministry’s Golden Jubilee, the MSE Family planted 50 trees under the Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Tree programme with its alumni and partners on 15 September 2022 at Punggol Waterway Park. Around 100 participants, including Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Ms Grace Fu, Senior Ministers of State Dr Amy Khor and Dr Koh Poh Koon and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Mr Baey Yam Keng attended the event. The Garden City Fund is a registered charity and IPC established by the National Parks Board (NParks).
3 Each tree planted contributed towards NParks’ OneMillionTrees movement, which is part of efforts to transform Singapore into a City in Nature, a key pillar under the Singapore Green Plan 2030.
4 The trees planted at the event included native critically endangered species Asam Gelugor (Garcinia atroviridis) and Pianggu (Horsfieldia irya) as well as native vulnerable species Penarahan Tandok (Knema curtisii). Concerted efforts to plant critically endangered and vulnerable species are aimed at conserving Singapore’s habitats and ecosystems for long-term sustainability, so that Singaporeans can benefit from their multiple functions. Trees serve as natural air filters, and planting one million more trees will capture 78,000 tonnes of CO2. Denser tree canopies also reflect radiant heat and cool our surface ambient temperatures, mitigating the Urban Heat Island effect and enhancing our resilience against climate change.
5 Punggol Waterway Park was selected for the tree-planting ceremony as it is located within Singapore’s first eco-town, Punggol. The town has undergone a major transformation from its early days as a fishing village to the vibrant ‘Waterfront Town’ as it is known today. Punggol incorporates sustainable living initiatives such as effective energy, water and waste management technologies which enable eco-friendly high-rise living. The town’s transformation mirrors MSE’s sustainable development journey over the past 50 years to help Singapore grow to become one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world today, providing a high quality of life and liveability for our people.
6 Singapore has come a long way since the inception of the Ministry of the Environment (or ENV) in 1972. Even before sustainable development became a global concern, Singapore sought to balance environmental protection with economic growth and social inclusion.
7 Over the years, the Ministry’s role has evolved to address changing circumstances and varying emphases. In 2004, the Ministry was renamed the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources to better reflect the Ministry’s expanded role in managing Singapore’s water resources. In 2020, the Ministry was renamed MSE to underscore the Government’s commitment to sustainability, as well as drive initiatives to achieve carbon mitigation and adaptation, coastal protection, zero waste, a circular economy, and food and water security.
8 Our continued efforts, through the three statutory boards that comprise the MSE family – PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) – ensure a clean, sustainable environment, and safe food and supply of water for Singapore.
9 Here are some of MSE’s key milestones as the Ministry marks five decades of efforts to build a green and sustainable Singapore:
- 1977 – 1987: The Great Singapore River Clean-Up
A 10-year project to clean up the Singapore River transformed a waste-filled waterway into the beautiful waterway we know today. The $170 million project involved the removal of rubbish from the river, dredging of the riverbed, and relocation of 4,000 squatters, hawkers, and vegetables sellers.
- 1982: Singapore Declared Malaria-Free
Malaria was once the most threatening vector-borne disease in Singapore. Singapore was declared malaria-free on 22 November 1982 by the World Health Organization, the first country in South-east Asia to attain this status.
- 1986: Completion of Street Hawker Resettlement
18,000 street hawkers were resettled into purpose-built hawker centres and markets with proper amenities and sanitation. The effort cost more than S$36 million.
- 1987: Night Soil Bucket System Phased Out
Singapore bid goodbye to the century-old night soil bucket system on 24 January 1987 with the cessation of the last night soil collection centre at Lorong Halus. The project started in 1984. Over three years, 15,369 buckets were phased out as the Ministry installed modern sanitation.
- 1999: Groundbreaking Semakau Landfill
The amount of trash generated daily in Singapore soared from 1,600 tonnes in 1972 to 3,200 tonnes in 1982. With space running out at Singapore’s last inland dumping ground at Lorong Halus, Singapore’s first offshore landfill – Semakau Landfill – began operations on 1 April 1999. The 3.5 square-kilometre island is also home to a thriving biodiversity and was referred to by New Scientist magazine as the ‘Garden of Eden’.
For more MSE50 milestones, please visit https://mse.gov.sg/mse50milestones.
MSE50 Commemorative Activities
10 Besides the planting of 50 trees, the Ministry is also celebrating its environmental milestones with:
A commemorative stamp set themed “Building a Green and Resilient Singapore”. Each stamp is illustrated to depict a key aspect of MSE’s work: water and food security, climate mitigation and adaptation, public health resilience, as well as zero waste and building a circular economy.
A short film showcasing Singapore’s transformation into a clean and sustainable Singapore.
A short documentary and a social media series highlighting Singapore’s environmental milestones.
A campaign on social media to gather user-generated stories and photographs of Singapore’s sustainable development journey.
11 To recognise those who have contributed to Singapore’s sustainable development journey, the Ministry is also producing a video series to profile long-serving employees as well as lesser-known jobs in the MSE Family.