Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at Girl Guides Singapore’s World Thinking Day Celebration on 18 February 2023, at Jurong Secondary School
Dr Seetha Subbiah, President of Girl Guides Singapore
Mrs Koh-Teh Yi Wen, Chief Commissioner
Ms Yeo Siok Ee, Principal of Jurong Secondary School
1 A very good morning to everyone, and thank you for the warm welcome. I am glad to join you for this year’s World Thinking Day Celebration. This is an important event for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world to celebrate international friendship and take action on global issues.
2 This year’s theme of “Our World, Our Peaceful Future” supports the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action by empowering a generation of environmentally conscious girls and women. This is not only a laudable goal, but also an increasingly vital one, as we face the challenge of our generation – climate change.
Challenges posed by climate change
3 Climate change is already having a profound impact on our daily lives. Take the weather. The last decade has been the warmest on record. The Centre for Climate Research Singapore has projected that daily peak temperatures could hit 40 degrees Celsius as early as 2045.
4 We are also experiencing more intense and frequent heavy rainfalls, with increasing incidences of flash floods. It is also projected that sea levels could be as high as four to five metres when combined with extreme high tides and storm surges, high enough to potentially flood one-third of Singapore. These changes have started to affect our access to critical resources like energy, water, and food. They also negatively impact our biodiversity and public health.
5 And so, addressing climate change is a must. But it raises questions about the trade-offs. What are we prepared to do to reduce our footprint on the environment? How can we live more sustainably, in order to achieve our climate goals? For example, are we prepared to pay a little more for foods imported from countries further away so that we can buy from more sources and achieve greater food security? Can we reduce the use of disposables by carrying reusable bags, bottles and utensils? Shall we invest more in flood protection, even we have other equally critical needs such as healthcare?
Singapore’s efforts to address climate change
6 While there are many important issues to be addressed, Singapore is starting from a strong foundation in sustainability. We have conserved water, reclaimed water and created new sources of water through NEWater and desalination. We have reduced our flood prone areas significantly over the years. Last year, we raised our climate ambition to achieve net zero by 2050. And we are making good progress on the Singapore Green Plan. For example, Singapore is now one of the most solar-dense cities in the world, and you can find solar panels on HDBs, petrol stations and schools. We have set a target that every HDB town will be Electric Vehicle-Ready, with approximately 2,000 carparks to be equipped with charging points by 2025.
7 I am especially encouraged by the opportunities for the Government to partner closely with businesses, community, international counterparts, and youths, like yourselves, to deal with these challenges. Last year, our National Environment Agency partnered with DBS Foundation for a nationwide zero food waste challenge to inspire our youths to develop and pilot innovative solutions to reduce food waste. Through our Forward Singapore exercise, we have sought ideas and views from Singaporeans from all walks of life on how we can collectively address challenges in important areas like recycling of waste, food security and coastal protection.
Galvanising a generation of young leaders for climate action
8 Indeed, I have confidence that all of you will make significant contributions to achieving our Green Plan. Girl Guides Singapore has a rich history of breaking frontiers and making important contributions to our country. Our future leaders are in this hall. We count on the Guides’ Promise to “do our best”, to confront the challenge of climate change. Before today’s event, 7,000 Girl Guide members have already taken our Green Nation Pledge. Thank you for demonstrating your strong commitment to make Singapore a green, liveable and climate-resilient home. You have the ideas and energy to influence your school mates, friends and families to take action. Spread the word about the Green Nation Pledge, and encourage those around you to make the Pledge!
9 The Girl Guides serves as a role model by demonstrating the power of female leadership for climate action. In particular, you have put in place the Advocacy Mentorship Programme pilot that focuses on climate action and gender equality. I encourage you to exercise your leadership by spearheading projects in recycling, reducing wastes, and sustainable living. You can tap on my Ministry’s SG Eco Fund to kickstart your project.
10 Shortly after this, we will be “plogging ” in Jurong Lake Gardens. I hope you will enjoy your different plogging missions, where you will learn more about the natural environment and recycling. Beyond today’s activities, I encourage everyone to practise a sustainable lifestyle daily. These could be simple habits like taking public transport, setting your air-conditioning temperature to 25 degrees Celsius, turning appliances off when they are not in use, and reducing waste. Wherever you are at home, in school or within the community, set an example with your actions and encourage others to do the same!
11 I encourage you to be ambitious in your goals and start making progress today. Our collective actions today will ensure a cleaner and greener Singapore for tomorrow. Thank you.