Singapore poised to take green leap forward

New sustainability initiatives launched to change how people work, study and play

Singaporeans look set to lead much greener lives by 2030, with new sustainability initiatives launched to change the way they work, study and play.

The Singapore Green Plan 2030, released by five ministries yesterday, will chart the country's way towards a more sustainable future, "building back better" as it recovers from the fallout of Covid-19.

The plan seeks to inform all aspects of development here - from infrastructure, to research and innovation, to training programmes.

"The comprehensive plan will strengthen Singapore's economic, climate and resource resilience, improve the living environment of Singaporeans, and bring new business and job opportunities," said the ministries in a joint statement. The Ministries of Education, National Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Trade and Industry and Transport are driving the initiative.

Under the Green Plan, at least 20 per cent of schools here will be carbon-neutral by 2030.

Adults, too, will work in greener buildings, since there are plans to raise the sustainability standards of buildings. People will be encouraged to commute in a less carbon-intensive way - cycling paths will triple in length by then, and the rail network will be expanded to 360km, up from the 230km today.

This infrastructure will be built within a city cloaked in green, with more initiatives to help nature seep into the heartland.

For instance, more nature parks will sprout up over the years. By 2030, there will be a more than 50 per cent increase in nature park land where people can go hiking or birdwatching.

Even the fossil fuel haven of Jurong Island will be transformed into a "sustainable energy and chemicals park".

Behind the scenes, research and innovation in low carbon alternatives will continue, even as programmes such as the new Enterprise Sustainability Programme are rolled out to help firms develop capabilities in this area.

More details on these initiatives will be given during the Budget next week, and in the subsequent Budget debates.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that the Green Plan will build upon Singapore's past sustainability efforts.

"We need to ensure a Singapore for our future generations. All of us have to work together, and make Singapore a bright green spark for the world," said PM Lee.

The Green Plan follows a robust debate in the House earlier this month on the need for Singapore to speed up efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Co-founder of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action Nor Lastrina Hamid said that while many initiatives in the plan have been announced before, she was heartened that multiple ministries were involved in the Green Plan.

Ms Lastrina added that she hopes to see more regular engagement between the Government and civil society and the general public, to help the plans materialise.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore poised to take green leap forward'. Subscribe