Welcome Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at the opening of the Senior Officials Meeting of the Third Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific on 24 January 2019, at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

            Welcome to the Senior Officials Segment of the 3rd Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific. This is the first time the Forum is being held outside of Bangkok and signals the importance of global effort on the sustainable development and climate action.

Innovation is Key to Overcoming Environmental Problems and Constraints

2                Here in the Asia Pacific region, we have seen tremendous growth and economic success. However, this has come at a price to the environment, straining resources, producing more waste, and generating higher greenhouse emissions.

3                Innovation is key to overcoming these environmental problems and constraints. For Singapore, innovation is absolutely essential. We are heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world. We cannot continue with business as usual; otherwise, we risk continuing on a catastrophic trajectory for climate change. Policymakers need to take the lead in seeking innovative solutions.

4                One of the innovative approaches many countries are pursuing is a shift away from the linear to the circular economy.

Singapore’s Innovative Solutions in Circular Economy

5                Singapore is committed to pursuing innovative solutions in the circular economy. That is why we have recently declared 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste. Singapore has closed the water loop, by recycling every possible drop of waste water into NEWater, Singapore’s brand of pure, reclaimed water. In the same way, we are now striving to close the waste loop and produce treasure out of trash. 

6                For instance, we are planning an integrated facility called Tuas Nexus that treats used water and solid waste. This will be the first and largest of its kind to be built from the ground up. Co-locating the two processes of used water and solid waste treatment will allow us to maximise energy and resource recovery. The Tuas Nexus will be able to reduce more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to taking 41,000 cars off the road. Waste here is not a problem, but a resource. 

7                Another innovation is processing incineration bottom ash for use in road or pavement construction. Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark are already using the ash for this purpose. 

8                Singapore has also set its sights on turning ash into construction material - NEWSand - and had previously worked with Samwoh Corporation, a leading integrated construction company and green products supplier.

Partnerships with Private Sector to Drive Innovation 

9                Such partnerships between the public and the private sectors are critical for innovation. To this end, we launched the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, or ESITM in December 2017, to work with industry to launch several key initiatives to drive innovation and technology adoption, upskill the workforce and improve productivity. 

10             One of our partners under a programme of the ESITM is City Developments Limited, a real estate developer. They are trialling in-sink grinders used in conjunction with on-site food waste digesters at one of their residential developments. This would allow apartments to easily recycle food waste to produce fertiliser for landscaping.    

11             We also launched a regulatory sandbox last July, to enable innovative environmental technologies and solutions to be tested in a safe environment, with relaxed regulations. We have received three proposals to trial waste management technologies and solutions that could enhance productivity in the delivery of environmental services.  

12             To promote research and development into innovative solutions, we have the Closing the Waste Loop R&D initiative led by the National Environmental Agency. This funds R&D projects related to the circular economy; and thus far, it has supported projects such as ultrafast conversion of food waste to bio-fertilisers, and green technology for metal recovery from electronic waste.  


13             Let me conclude. Our sustainability journey requires all hands on deck, between the public and private, but also within the region. At this Forum, we have the opportunity to sow the seeds of innovation, by sharing ideas and best practices. 

14             I hope that you will have productive discussions in the next few days. Thank you.


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