Tackling climate change requires both individuals and organisations, says Desmond Lee

Singapore's Green Plan 2030's ambitions include planting a million more trees across the island.
Singapore's Green Plan 2030's ambitions include planting a million more trees across the island.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Everyone has a role to play in tackling climate change, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said on Friday (April 9).

He said it was a complex challenge that required effort from both individuals and organisations.

"We all have a part to play - from government action, to the business practices of our industry partners, to the daily habits of individuals and families, and everyone's contribution helps," he said at an event on climate action.

In his speech, the minister outlined the pillars of Singapore's Green Plan 2030, and its ambitions to plant a million more trees across the island over the next decade and introduce stricter building sustainability standards.

The Temasek Shophouse Conversations event was held virtually with about 1,000 participants.

In a panel discussion on climate leadership, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, also stressed that dealing with climate change starts with the individual.

"Beyond governments and businesses, climate action must be a whole-of-nation effort," she said.

It also requires collaboration, as communities and countries learn from each other, added Dr Khor.

She mentioned some of the sustainability action plans announced by other countries. Vision Indonesia 2045, for example, prioritises the circular economy - a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, reusing and recycling. Brunei recently launched its national climate change policy.

"We must deepen collaboration and create new opportunities to exchange information and experiences at the regional level," she said.

Singapore has launched a three-year action package to help its Asean neighbours and other developing countries build capacity in climate science and long-term green strategies. The Centre for Climate Research Singapore will also share its projection data and findings with other Asean countries, said Dr Khor.

But she added that more can be done and said Asean should deepen cooperation in the region to tackle common environmental problems.

"This will further shorten our learning and implementation curves," she said.

Other speakers on the panel included Professor Jan Peter Balkenende, former prime minister of the Netherlands, who said dealing with climate change depended on international cooperation.

"We need governments that are really willing to analyse how things are. It's a matter of monitoring what is really happening, and if things are not going right, be aware of it and be critical towards each other," he said.

Panellists also spoke on topics such as green financing and carbon emissions at the event, which was organised by state investor Temasek's philanthropic arm, Temasek Foundation.

On Friday, Mr Lee and Dr Khor paid tribute to Mr Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, a former Indonesian Cabinet minister and chairman of its advisory board for climate change policies, for his role in his country's environmental collaboration with Singapore.

An English translation of a book written by Mr Sarwono on his transition from youth activist to political statesman was launched at the event.

"Singapore looks forward to building on the strong bilateral foundation which Pak Sarwono has helped to lay to expand cooperation with Indonesia in areas such as circular economy, waste management and climate change," said Dr Khor.