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Opening Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, at North East CDC Eco Kids Joe Day at Our Tampines Hub on 24 March 2018

Mr Desmond Choo, Mayor of North East CDC

Parents

Girls and boys

Introduction

1.                 Good afternoon. I am very happy to be here for the North East CDC JOE Day, which stands for Just One Earth. I understand that NECDC organises this family carnival every year for pre-schoolers and their families, to spread the message of how simple it can be to care for the environment.

2.                 Today, NECDC is also celebrating the finale of the North East ECO Kids programme.

About the North East Eco Kids Programme & JOE Day

3.                 I understand the students underwent a series of experiential, hands-on workshops to learn about the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They also learnt to keep Singapore clean and green. I would like to challenge everyone here help pick up litter and throw it away, to ensure that this place is litter-free after the event. Besides keeping our homes clean, we also need to keep our environment clean.

4.                 We also want to thank the partners, Tzu Chi Foundation and POSB. They have worked closely with the NECDC and the National Environmental Agency (NEA).

5.                 The North East ECO Kids programme was started seven years ago, and has reached out to more than 2,000 pre-schoolers from 75 preschools. I also hear that more pre-schools and organisations are interested to join this programme.

6.                 Well done to NECDC for organising this programme. Let us all give them a big round of applause.

About Just One Earth (JOE) Day

7.                 Today is also Earth Hour 2018, which makes todays theme Natural Joe especially relevant.

8.                 Natural Joe focuses on three messages. These messages apply not just to the children, but the parents as well. The three messages are: Food waste reduction, climate action, and anti-littering.

Food Waste Reduction

9.                 First, the amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the last 10 years. Every week, an average Singapore home throws away 2.5kg of food waste. That is a lot of food, especially when many people around the world are going hungry. I would like to encourage the children to remind your parents to only order what you can eat, and not to over-order, over-buy, or over-cook.

Climate Change

10.            Second, we are vulnerable to the impact of climate change. In recent years, Singapore has experienced intense rainfall and flash floods. At the start of this year, we had experienced colder temperatures, while last year was the hottest year on record, without El Nino.   

11.            These are evidence of climate change, which affects everyone. We need to play our part to tackle climate change.

12.            In order to encourage grassroots organisations, NGOs and interest groups to organise more activities to raise awareness of climate change, I had announced the Climate Action SG Grant two weeks ago. Organisations can apply to this grant from 1 April to the end of the year to organise climate action initiatives. Each group will be eligible for up to $5,000 during this period for their various projects, on a reimbursement basis.

13.            I would like to challenge the parents here to form an interest group and organise an activity for climate action. They can apply to NEA for the grant. It would be wonderful if the children could work together with the parents to organise such initiatives.

14.            Another way to tackle climate change can be to buy energy efficient appliances. Energy efficient models of refrigerators account for about three quarter of total sales in 2016. The Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS), which was introduced in 2008, has helped consumers like you and me to choose more energy efficient appliances such as air-conditioners, refrigerators, clothes dryers, televisions and general purpose lamps. I would like to encourage the children here to ask their parents to buy appliances with more ticks, which indicate they are more energy efficient.

15.            NEA will be consulting the industry and public on a proposal to expand the coverage of MELS to more lamps. The proposal will help households select more efficient lamp types and further reduce their energy consumption, which would lead to savings on the energy bill.

Anti-littering

16.            Third, we need to involve everyone in the anti-littering effort. As I had mentioned, we need to keep not just our homes, but the surroundings clean as well. In 2016, NEA issued more than 31,000 fines for littering, nearly 20% more than in 2015. Parents and children should remind each other not to litter.

Conclusion

17.            I would like to say that NECDC has done very well in organising environmental programmes. I encourage everyone to participate in them, which helps to inculcate green practices as well as values such as graciousness and care for the environment.

18.            I would like to challenge everyone to pledge your commitment for climate action at the pledge tree. You can also go to our website to make the Climate Action pledge. To date, we have garnered about 50,000 pledges.

19.            Lastly, I would like to ask all the boys and girls to be eco-champions!

Thank you, and have a wonderful day.

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