Mr James Soh,
Mr Wong Kee Joo,
Dr Goh Mong Song,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon everyone.
It is a great pleasure to be here with you. I thank the National Youth Achievement Award Council (NYAA) and HSBC Singapore for organising this initiative to recognise the efforts of SMEs and ITE students to come together and develop solutions for climate change.
Addressing Climate Change in a Post-COVID World
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways. Businesses and systems across industries were put to the test, including food supply chains and healthcare. But these would pale in comparison to what we are likely to experience if we do not tackle climate change with urgency.
Climate change is an existential threat to the world and its impact is far reaching. As a low-lying island city-state, Singapore is especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and supply shocks on essential resources such as water and food. Change in weather pattern could result in more intense typhoons, more frequent flooding, drought and disruption to farming, loss of wildlife and biodiversity, and emergence of new diseases.
I returned from the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow earlier this month with renewed hope for global climate action, as Parties agreed to review and strengthen their climate pledges to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal. Singapore also contributed to the success of COP26 by co-facilitating ministerial consultations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on carbon market rules and working out an agreement amongst Parties. While there is much work ahead of us, COP26 has laid a firm foundation for future progress in our fight against climate change.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030
Although Singapore emits just 0.1% of global carbon emissions, we are committed to support global efforts to address climate change. Earlier this year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to spark a national movement on sustainability. The Green Plan sets out a clear pathway towards our climate goals, with ambitious and concrete targets over the next decade.
As a small city-state with limited land and limited alternative energy options, Singapore faces much starker trade-offs than most other countries. To overcome these constraints, we continuously push the boundaries on innovation and invest in solutions that will help us make a transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future, and ensure Singapore remains a green and sustainable home.
Many opportunities abound for our local businesses and Singaporeans under the Green Plan. The Enterprise Sustainability Programme supports Singapore companies, especially our SMEs, in harnessing sustainability as a competitive advantage and capturing new opportunities in a green economy. The S$180 million programme is set to benefit at least 6,000 enterprises over the next four years.
As we pursue sustainable development, there will be new 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 youth, like yourselves, will be well-positioned to capture these new opportunities.
Importance of Collective Action
Sustainability is a long-term endeavour and requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders – the government, businesses, civil society and individuals. Our youth, especially, play an important role in shaping the future of Singapore. Not just for this generation, but the generations to come. You are also well-positioned to seize and create opportunities for a low-carbon future.
I am heartened to learn of the efforts by the students in the ITE SMEs Climate Change Solutions pilot project. For example, a team of students from ITE College West worked to reduce waste and carbon emissions from the Bettr Group (pronounced as “better”). The students developed eco-solutions such as repurposing coffee ground waste as a new sustainable product – soap. This reduced operating costs and carbon footprint of the company’s waste regime. I am proud to share that the climate solutions rendered from the project are expected to reap a total savings of 144 tonnes of carbon emissions per year with an associated business cost savings of $76,000.
There are many more exciting stories of students developing and implementing sustainable solutions across different industries, from manufacturing companies, to landscape companies and F&B businesses.
Ideas from youths cannot take flight without a suitable platform to nurture their growth as well as support from industries to tackle real-world problems. This project was a timely opportunity for our youths to dive deep into sustainability issues, and come up with innovative business and technological solutions. Through such initiatives, more youths would be encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions in this new normal and to take concrete steps towards our climate goals. At the same time, SMEs can reap benefits to their businesses from these fresh ideas while reducing carbon footprint. This will take us a step forward to developing sustainability as an engine of growth for Singapore companies.
To conclude, I congratulate the winning teams and all the students who did good work in developing innovative and sustainable solutions with the companies. I urge everyone, youths and businesses alike, to continue synergising and pioneering solutions to shape a sustainable future for Singapore.