Is The SG Green Plan 2030 Bold Enough - What More Can We Do (Session 1 – 16 July 2021)
This conversation, co-organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) and National University of Singapore (NUS), was held on 16 July 2021 via Zoom, involving 90 youths from NUS and the following Political Office Holder and invited speakers:
- Mr Alvin Tan – Minister of State (MOS) of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry
- Ms Clare Chow – Senior Assistant Director, Environment Policy, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
- Dr Lee Poh Seng – Executive Director, Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore; Associate Professor, NUS Mechanical Engineering
Here are the key insights of the conversation raised by the participants:
Green Plan Pillar ‘City in Nature’:
Growing our connection to nature
- Holistic benefits in integrating nature into our urban environment – Participants said that enhancing our natural capital through parks and urban greenery could promote biodiversity conservation and positively impact us physically, mentally and emotionally. Participants said that more green spaces could have a cooling effect, provide spaces for recreation, and deepen urbanites’ interaction with and appreciation of nature.
- Involve more stakeholders in enhancing greenery in Singapore – Participants suggested for different stakeholders, including community and daycare centres, schools, and the military, to be involved in enhancing greenery in Singapore.
- Cultivate an increased appreciation for nature – Participants said that sustaining a City in Nature required Singaporeans to value nature and green spaces. They called for greater efforts to foster an appreciation of nature among the public, such as by featuring nature more frequently on media platforms.
Green Plan Pillar ‘Energy Reset’:
Navigating our switch to cleaner energy
- Road to Electric Vehicles (EVs) exciting but challenging – Participants were positive about the transition to cleaner-energy vehicles, but recognised user concerns such as “range anxiety” and accessibility of charging stations and discussed whether the usage of EVs was damaging to the environment.
- Greening older buildings – In addition to constructing more environmentally-friendly buildings, participants suggested retrofitting older buildings to make them more energy-efficient as an alternative to the energy-intensive process of demolition and construction.
- Set realistic goals – Participants said that there are many factors to consider when enacting measures to address the climate crisis. Professor Ang Beng Wah, Executive Director of the Energy Studies Institute, NUS, noted that Singapore might appear to lag behind other countries in achieving net-zero carbon emissions as it is an energy-deficient city that faces unique challenges in achieving carbon neutrality. However, he reassured participants that Singapore has committed to a set of realistic goals within an achievable timeframe and encouraged youth to play a part by having more awareness, using less energy, and being more sustainable through how they live and work.
Green Plan Pillar ‘Sustainable Living’:
Empowering our green citizenry
- Foster a recycling culture – Participants said there was a lack of recycling culture in Singapore compared to other countries and called for the Government and businesses to play their part in influencing individuals’ recycling habits.
- Education to spur green habits – Participants called for holistic education to address the urgent need for sustainable living. Suggestions included appealing to people’s sense of responsibility, increasing people’s awareness of environmental degradation, and partnering with religious institutions.
- It starts with the individual – Participants said that the power of individual action in driving change should not be underestimated and cited the ripple effect of influencing their social circles to go green through small actions.
Green Plan Pillar ‘Green Economy’:
Building our competitive advantage in sustainability
- Greening the economy is crucial – Participants said that financial considerations were often the driver behind individual and policy decisions and agreed that pricing adjustments to limit the use of finite resources were vital to combat climate change.
- Supporting businesses’ green transformation – Participants said that while Singapore was transitioning towards a green economy, it was important to support SMEs in adopting green practices while remaining economically competitive and suggested sharing relevant knowledge through common platforms and services.
Green Plan Pillar ‘Resilient Future’:
Preserving our way of life
- Climate change will affect our everyday life – Participants acknowledged that climate change adaptation was crucial given Singapore’s susceptibility to rising sea levels, food insecurity and the urban heat island effect.
- Mindset changes are needed to prepare for the future – Participants emphasised the importance of building resilience by supporting local agriculture and reducing one’s carbon footprint. Participants also encouraged Singaporeans to think out of the box to come up with alternative food sources and how to reconfigure our use of space.