Two companies here were among 25 winners of a start-up competition organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation: Seven Clean Seas is building a vessel that will remove plastic from rivers, while Lumitics created a tracker to help kitchens track food waste. Besides punching above their weight in the international arena, both firms are harnessing technology for the greater good and developing new business models to boot. Sustainability is the buzzword today as the world struggles to deal with a century of industrialisation and capitalism which brought the unwanted side effects of pollution and climate change. Dealing with these issues offers new economic and growth opportunities even as mankind strives to conserve the planet for future generations. The Government's awareness of such issues is reflected in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which aims to mitigate climate change and embrace sustainable development.
As Singapore builds its multi-pronged approach and negotiates the trade-off between development and sustainability, there are lessons from others. One clear example is the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, one of the world's few carbon-negative countries. Bhutan has pledged to retain at least 60 per cent of its forest cover and adopts a whole-of-economy approach for this goal. It relies on hydroelectric power, and encourages eco-tourism and organic farming. It built a new funding model with global partners so its conservation efforts can be financed for the long term. Singapore may be more advanced, but Bhutan's approach offers a model that can inspire the search for sustainability. Both countries demonstrate that size is no barrier to green ambitions.
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