SINGAPORE - In the next 10 years, 55,000 jobs are expected to be created as Singapore pursues sustainable development, including about 4,000 in the next 12 months, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Thursday (Aug 27).
Skilled jobs will be created in the high-tech agriculture and aquaculture industry, she said, as Singapore looks to local production to increase its food security in the face of global food supply shocks.
And with the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the urgent need to raise public hygiene standards, "food safety guardians" will be appointed at food establishments, she added in the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment's (MSE) addendum to the President's Address.
Ms Fu outlined these possible areas of growth as opportunities Singaporeans can exploit from the threats posed by pandemics, climate change and resource constraints.
Her ministry will also focus on enhancing the skill sets of cleaning and waste management professionals, so that they can take on more specialised roles in disinfection, recycling or waste treatment.
In addition, it will develop a pipeline of talent to support sustainability in Singapore, by offering scholarships in specified areas, such as climate adaptation and climate science.
"This will train a workforce that is ready for the sustainability challenges and opportunities of the future," said the minister.
Beyond developing the workforce, the Government will shore up policies in some areas to meet environmental challenges.
These include upgrading standards of public hygiene, for instance, and boosting infrastructure in others, like in local agriculture, so that Singapore's food supply is not compromised during a global food supply shock.
Singapore's water security will also continue to be a priority, Ms Fu said, pointing to the expansion of the Changi Newater Factory. Newater, or recycled used water, is one of Singapore's four national taps, the others being rainwater, imported water and desalination.
She noted that sustainability 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," she added, saying this renewed commitment is reflected in the renaming of her ministry, formerly known as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
MSE's immediate priority, amid Covid-19 and record-breaking spread of dengue here, is to raise public hygiene standards as a first line of defence against the transmission of the infectious diseases, said Ms Fu.
New legislation in this area is to be introduced in the next three to six months, according to an earlier announcement.
She noted that disruption of global supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic is a reminder of the need to safeguard Singapore's food security.
Hence, her ministry will strive to speed up local food production in the next six to 24 months, and has launched the "30x30 Express" grant to support agri-food players.
Singapore produces less than 10 per cent of its own food, but plans are under way to ramp this up to 30 per cent by 2030.
The minister stressed that Singapore cannot take its eyes off the existential threat of climate change.
"We will push for a green recovery from Covid-19, to support a competitive transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. We will promote green growth, ride on opportunities from decarbonisation and grow green industries such as carbon services and climate science."
With the pandemic affecting many economies, other countries are also pouring money to reboot their economies in ways that are climate-friendly as well.
Ms Fu noted that Singapore has invested heavily in research and development on climate science.
For example, the Climate Science Research Programme Office will be set up at the end of this year to drive efforts to formulate a national climate science research masterplan, she said.
She also said her ministry 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."