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OPENING KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, AT THE 5TH SINGAPORE DIALOGUE ON SUSTAINABLE WORLD RESOURCES, 18 MAY 2018

TOPICS: Sustainability

Dr. Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning, Indonesia
Ms Loren Legarda, Senator, Philippines
Prof Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning to everyone. I am pleased to join you at the 5th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources. To our friends from overseas, I hope you are enjoying your stay in Singapore.

FROM ‘GROW NOW, CLEAN UP LATER’ TO ‘GREEN GROWTH’

2. For many decades, economic growth was about “growing now, cleaning up later”, relying on unbridled exploitation of natural resources and rampant industrialisation. This has resulted in widespread environment degradation, including deforestation, air pollution and acute water scarcity. Unsustainable production and consumption are exacerbating the global threat of climate change. The extreme storms and floods that have brought devastation to our region are a foretaste of things to come, if we do not change our habits and the way we live.

3. Fortunately, we have already begun moving away from the “grow now, clean up later” approach. The costs of such a short-sighted approach are very high for both the current and future generations. Many nations have come to embrace the tenets of sustainable development encapsulated in the 17 UN Sustainable Developments Goals. These include climate action, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production. And with this paradigm shift, we have started viewing “green growth” as integral to, and not separate from, long-term economic development. Green growth is the foundation of real and sustainable prosperity.

SINGAPORE’S GREEN GROWTH JOURNEY


4. In Singapore, the integration of sustainability in long-term economic growth has been a cornerstone of our development path since independence. Over the past five decades, Singapore has taken a pragmatic and long-term view of environmental
governance and resilience.

5. We turned our water vulnerability into a strength through sound policy and the application of science and technology. Our Global Hydrohub, comprising more than 180 companies, is one of the densest concentrations of water companies globally. In 2015, the water sector contributed $2.25 billion to Singapore’s GDP and 14,000 jobs. We have rejuvenated our waterways by integrating green and blue spaces for homes and businesses as well as for recreation.

6. In the area of energy, we have developed Singapore into a solar hub for the region with over 50 local and international companies across the value-chain. The Economic Development Board (EDB) and Housing Development Board (HDB) have been leading the SolarNova programme, as part of our aim to generate 1 gigawatt-peak of solar energy beyond 2020. PUB is deploying floating solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on two of our reservoirs, to make our water treatment process greener and less dependent on fossil fuels. And the largest microgrids platform in the tropics is being operated by the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator – Singapore (REIDS).

7. As part of Singapore’s ‘Car-lite’ vision, the public transport network will be enhanced significantly so that 8 in 10 homes will be within 10 minutes’ walk from a train station. We have implemented a “zero-growth” policy on private vehicles, and facilitated the roll out of an Electric Vehicle Car-Sharing service that will have 2,000 charging points island-wide by 2020. These efforts will reduce our carbon footprint, enhance air quality, and promote a liveable city.

8. We have also put in place a series of measures to increase Singapore’s climate resilience. These include protecting our coasts, diversifying our food and water supply, and investing in weather-independent technologies such as vertical farming.

9. In short, Singapore today enjoys the dividends of our early investment in green growth and environmental resilience. These dividends have been in the form of a clean, safe and liveable Singapore which attractstalent and investment; the creation of jobs and business opportunities in our economy; and a more vibrant and cohesive society.

10. These dividends are not a product of chance. They have been the result of three factors, namely policies, partnerships and passion.

Policies

11. First, policies. We will continue to implement long-term policies that promote green growth without creating market distortions or an unequal playing field.

12. Next year, Singapore will join early movers to place a price on carbon emissions, and will be the first in ASEAN to do so. The carbon tax sends a clear signal to major emitters on the need to reduce carbon emissions and encourages them to invest in energy efficient technologies. At the same time, the Government will spend more than the carbon tax collected in the initial years, to support green growth projects that deliver emissions reductions.

13. As growth needs to be financed, Singapore has also been developing our financial sector to catalyse green finance locally and in the region. Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore launched the Green Bond Grant Scheme to kick-start the development of a green bond market in Singapore. Since then, there has been an increase in the number of green bonds being issued in Singapore.

14. In April 2017, City Developments Limited raised $100 million through green bonds to finance its investments in energy saving and efficient infrastructures. Both the DBS Group and Manulife Financial also issued green bonds worth $685 million and $500 million respectively. The Singapore Stock Exchange has also made progress in attracting green bond listings, attracting over 20 local and international listings amounting to almost $15 billion in recent years.

15. With the launch of ASEAN Green Bonds Standards in November 2017, MAS will also recognise it as a qualifying standard under the Green Bond Grant Scheme. These would help raise the estimated US$3 trillion required in ASEAN for green investments by 2030.

16. This year, we will also begin seeing the reports of sustainability reporting requirements for SGX listed companies.

17. In the area of waste and resource management, our vision is to achieve the circular economy, to enable Singapore to keep resources in use for as long as possible, before recovering and extracting the maximum value from them at the end of life. We are focusing on three key waste streams - E-waste, plastics and food waste. With the support of industry, and more importantly, the people of Singapore, whose participation in recycling efforts will be crucial, we will put in our best efforts to spur green growth in the waste industry, just as we have done for water.

Partnerships

18. Second, forging partnerships. Countries in our region are close and important partners. The theme for Singapore’s Chairmanship of ASEAN is resilience and innovation. Among our key priorities is the establishment of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network and the need to address climate change. The ASEAN Smart Cities Network will contribute to the UN SDGs by providing a platform for collaboration and capacity building among ASEAN cities to achieve smart and sustainable urban development. The Network will unleash new potential green growth areas by generating “network effects” that make
technologies more valuable as more people use them, and by providing start-ups with access to broader ASEAN markets.

19. Singapore will host a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA) in July in conjunction with the Urban Sustainability Week. An expanded meeting will bring together ASEAN, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the UNFCCC COP current President and President-designate Fiji and Poland. These meetings will provide our region the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Paris Agreement and take collective action in the fight against climate change.

20. In July, Singapore will also participate in the Voluntary National Review at the UN High Level Political Forum on our implementation of the UN SDGs in Singapore. Our participation will allow Singapore to learn from and collaborate with other countries on implementing the SDGs.

21. Innovative and resilient partnerships must flourish at all levels – not just among governments, but also corporations, NGOs, and citizen groups. On the business front, the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO) continues to gather momentum. Earlier this year, 10 major brands such as Crystal Jade, TungLok Group and F&N committed to joining the Alliance – bringing the total number to 81 brands and over 200 F&B outlets. This sends a strong signal that businesses in Singapore are committed to sustainable production practices across their operations in different territories.

Passion

22. Finally, to unleash the potential for green growth, we must have a critical mass of people who are passionate about the environment. A group of people who dream about creating a cleaner and greener world, and possess the creativity and tenacity to turn their dreams into reality.

23. Dreamers like Joline Tang who was trained in accountancy but switched tracks by setting up the Sustainability Project. Joline believes that businesses are tools for motivating people to transform their lifestyle. So she set up a business to promote sustainable living through a range of products that are high quality and affordable. Her motto: “never ever underestimate your power to make a change”.

24. To inspire more people and galvanise action, we have designated 2018 as our Year of Climate Action (YOCA). Since the launch of YOCA, we have received many inspiring stories from our “climate action champions” and pledges from people to take action. We hope more citizens, businesses and NGOs will come forward to pledge action to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. We will also host the 5th ASEAN Plus Three Youth Environment Forum in June whose theme will be Imagine, Create, Change. The Forum will encourage youths in ASEAN to exchange ideas on environmental sustainability with the aim of implementing what they had learnt in their own countries.

CONCLUSION

 25. Let me conclude. As we look to the future, it is clear that green growth is the only sustainable path for development. It is the key that can unlock continuing prosperity and well-being for the current and future generations.

26. I would like to thank the Singapore Institute of International Affairs for organising this annual event that brings together passionate stakeholders in forging partnerships for a sustainable future.

27. I look forward to lively and constructive discussions.

Thank you.

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