SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) expects to create 4,000 “new and upgraded jobs” in the next year and 55,000 over the next ten years as Singapore pursues sustainable development, said its minister Grace Fu on Thursday (Aug 27).
In an addendum to President Halimah Yacob's presidential address, Ms Fu noted that sustainability must be at the heart of Singapore's "plans, policies and processes".
"Since independence, Singapore has pursued economic growth in tandem with social inclusion and environmental protection. This is the foundation for the green and liveable city that we enjoy today,” said Ms Fu.
“However, we cannot take our success for granted. In a global landscape characterised by pandemics, climate change, and resource constraints, sustainability has become increasingly important.”
Sustainability is the principle that in meeting the needs of current generations, we should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs, said the minister.
“It has always been part of Singapore’s DNA. But we will push for it to be at the heart of our plans, policies and processes."
In her address on Monday after 93 Members of Parliament (MPs) and two Non-Constituency MPs were sworn in at the opening of the 14th Parliament, Madam Halimah said that Singapore would make a "major push for sustainable growth".
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“We will reimagine how we plan our city, redesign urban mobility and grow using less resources in a low-carbon future,” she said.
Singapore will also push for green financing and sustainable infrastructure development across the region, to ride on Asia’s growth while protecting the environment, she added.
As Singapore pursues sustainable development, a variety of jobs in the sector will be created, said Ms Fu in her addendum.
This includes skilled jobs in the high-tech agriculture and aquaculture industry, as well as the training of food hygiene officers who will serve as “food safety guardians” at food establishments, she said.
Raising environmental sanitation and waste management standards will result in "new good jobs" for Singaporeans, said the minister.
The ministry also plans to review the Environmental Control Officer scheme to broaden the work areas for such officers beyond construction sites to more premises. This will create new opportunities for individuals like operations or facilities managers, said Ms Fu.
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She noted that the ministry has also helped to support those affected during the current economic downturn, giving the example of how about 1,900 staff members from the aviation and hospitality industries were hired to work as safe distancing and SG Clean ambassadors.
More staff will also be hired for "enhanced" dengue management efforts, she added.
There are also plans to develop "a pipeline of talent" to support sustainability in Singapore, said Ms Fu.
For example, MSE will offer scholarships for people who are passionate about the ministry's mission in areas such as climate adaptation and climate science.
PUSH FOR “GREEN RECOVERY”
The ministry’s name change - from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources to the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment – likewise reflects a “renewed commitment" to sustainability, said Ms Fu.
"We will continue to work with all segments of society and the economy to realise our vision for a sustainable Singapore as we ride out COVID-19 and beyond," she said.
And as Singapore tackles the public health threats of COVID-19 and dengue, the ministry's immediate priority will be shoring up the country's environmental public health resilience.
"We will strengthen our environmental sanitation controls, upgrade public health infrastructure in hawker centres and coffee shops and rally Singaporeans to uplift and sustain cleanliness and public hygiene norms," said Ms Fu.
The pandemic has also disrupted global supply chains, showing Singapore's food security must be taken seriously, she added.
"While our food supply has remained stable, we have launched the ‘30x30 Express’ grant to support agri-food players to accelerate local food production over the next six to 24 months,” she said.
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The ministry will also push for a "green recovery" from COVID-19, said Ms Fu, and support a "competitive transition" to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
"MSE will drive and coordinate public sector efforts to take the lead in sustainable development, and ensure that sustainability is at the heart of the MSE family of agencies’ core functions," she said.
This includes promoting “green growth”, riding on opportunities from decarbonisation and growing green industries such as carbon services and climate science, said the minister.
"We will encourage and support companies to reduce their carbon footprint and explore new private-public collaborations to make Singapore a leading example of how economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand,” she added.
At the same time, there is also a need to be mindful of the longer-term existential threats from climate change, said Ms Fu, adding that Singapore will invest heavily in research and development for climate action.
Initiatives set up to address this include the launch of a S$10 million national sea level research programme.
"Dedicated resources" are also being set aside in the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to protect Singapore against rising sea levels, added the minister.
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Said Ms Fu: "MSE will do its part to keep Singapore at the forefront of public health, climate action, and resource security, with sustainability at the core.
"We ask all Singaporeans to work with us to make Singapore a green and liveable home and a global champion for sustainability."