A refreshed social compact across generations and among Singaporeans, plus the roles and responsibilities of the Government, businesses, community and people play are key foundations of Forward Singapore’s Steward pillar.
Launched by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu Sep 19 (Monday) at the Partners for the Environment Forum, this Steward pillar was created to focus on environmental and fiscal sustainability as well as grow partnerships for a green, liveable and climate-resilient Singapore.
It will be led by Minister Grace Fu; Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin; Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Transport Chee Hong Tat.
“How does Singapore continue to thrive as a global trading and finance hub?” asked Minister Fu at the Forum, pointing to the pandemic, climate change, geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions as matters which will test Singapore in upcoming years.
“We must always strive to be one step ahead, so that we can advance on our own terms, and not be forced to play catch up, or bow to the whims of external forces.”
The Steward pillar’s social compact in three parts
Towards achieving these goals, the Steward pillar is tapping upon the collective will, wits and efforts of everyone in Singapore all the way from Government bodies to individual advocates.
This involves a three-part social compact, explained Minister Fu:
A social compact across generations
We inherited a Singapore that is in a good state due to the efforts of our forefathers and now it’s our turn to do our part to minimise the cost of climate change to future generations, she said.
But we are facing challenges on multiple fronts: extreme weather conditions like drought and flood can affect Singapore’s access to energy and food and rising sea levels are an existential problem for an island nation such as ours.
Thus, one effective way is by putting a price on carbon to reflect its environmental costs, said Minister Fu.
For instance, the announcement of the carbon tax hike in Budget 2022.
“We have announced that Singapore’s carbon tax will be raised from the current S$5 per tonne to S$25 per tonne in 2024 and 2025, and S$45 in 2026 and 2027, with a view to reaching S$50-80 per tonne by 2030,” she said.
Together these mean climate adaptation to survive, and climate mitigation to thrive.
“These are significant long-term investments and economic shifts that will span years, even decades,” said Minister Fu.
“The sacrifices we make today will not bring us immediate benefits, but they will enable us to bequeath a liveable planet to future generations of Singaporeans,” she added.
A social compact among Singaporeans
“Our nation’s progress hinges on achieving the holy grail of economic progress, social inclusion, and environmental protection. However, this is a delicate balancing act that comes with difficult trade-offs.”
The question is that, with limited resources, how we can continue to grow the economic pie sustainably, while distributing it in a way that ensures no one is left behind, she added.
For instance, the Government will use the carbon tax revenue and channel it to support companies that invest in greener and more sustainable production methods, and cushion the impact on households.
Food supply resilience is also key.
To spread out risks, Singapore needs to go beyond sources that are nearest and cheapest, and buy from a diversity of sources, the minister said.
In a world with food supply chain disruptions, this also means the 30-by-30 goal for local produce to meet 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030 is crucial.
Concurrently, the Government will leave no Singaporean behind. It will support workers reskilling and upskilling in order to remain employable and competitive.
“The greening of our existing industries — such as electrification of our transport system, more resource and carbon efficient manufacturing, and the growth of renewable and green energy — will also transform existing jobs and generate new economic opportunities,” reassured the Minister.
Examining the roles and responsibilities of the Government, businesses, community and people
“We all have a stake in Singapore, and a duty to protect our environment,” said Minister Fu.
So the Government leads this stewardship with the Singapore Green Plan. This is a whole-of-nation roadmap for Singapore’s sustainable development.
Under this plan, the GreenGov.SG initiative targets that by 2030 the public sector reduces energy and water use by 10 per cent from the average of 2018-2020 levels, and to reduce the amount of waste disposed by 30 per cent from 2022. These are more ambitious than the national targets. Similarly, the public sector aims to peak emissions around 2025, five years ahead of Singapore’s national target.
Businesses and industries also, should lower their resource footprint and move towards circular and zero-waste business models. Minister Fu cited the Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for e-waste and (upcoming) for beverage containers, as ways for companies to drive sustainability.
Communities too, can bring attention, people and resources towards addressing local environmental issues. Here, groups such as Ocean Purpose Project, Green Nudge, and Waterways Watch Society are cleaning up Singapore’s beaches and waterways. The SG Eco Fund has awarded over S$6.6 million to 105 community projects across the people, private and public sectors.
People can drive change forward
“But ultimately, it is us individuals who will drive the change,” said Minister Fu. “As consumers, we can exercise our purchasing power to encourage businesses to produce greener goods and services.”
“As residents, we can be gracious and considerate to our neighbours by keeping our communal spaces clean and healthy.”
“As community members and leaders, we can act for change by starting ground up projects and rallying others to pitch in for the environment.”
“As stewards, we can lead sustainable lifestyles, and encourage our family and friends to adopt environmentally friendly habits, like reducing waste,” she elaborated.
And so, Forward Singapore needs mentioning again. It is an all-of-nation exercise for all of us to come together, examine our values and aspirations, build consensus, and so refresh our social compact for Singapore’s shared future. Conversations around environmental and fiscal sustainability are upcoming.
“To kick this off, we invite members of the public to share with us their views on environmental sustainability issues, and come forward with a pledge — to be a contributor, an advocate, or a champion for environmental sustainability — via the Forward SG website. I look forward to hearing your views and suggestions,” said Minister Fu.
“I look forward even more to your participation, to co-lead and co-create.”
Click here to make yourself heard.
Cover photo credit: Grace Fu Facebook