Getting youth more involved in sustainability

Programme by S'pore chapter of UN Global Compact will teach them about responsible business practices

President Halimah Yacob (centre) with the Asean delegates at the Global Compact Network Singapore Youth Forum 2019 yesterday. About 300 local and foreign youth engaged Madam Halimah in a dialogue.
President Halimah Yacob (centre) with the Asean delegates at the Global Compact Network Singapore Youth Forum 2019 yesterday. About 300 local and foreign youth engaged Madam Halimah in a dialogue. PHOTO: MCI

Youth interested in sustainability will be able to find internship placements and networking opportunities more easily, thanks to a new programme launched yesterday.

Open to people aged 18 to 30, the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Youth Alliance will invite members to flagship sustainability events and volunteer activities.

Members will also enjoy discounted rates for the alliance's sustainability training sessions.

The programme is administrated by the GCNS, the local chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, which encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.

Launched by President Halimah Yacob at the GCNS Youth Forum 2019, the programme aims to provide youth with learning, volunteering and career development opportunities in sustainability.

GCNS president Goh Swee Chen said: "Apart from championing sustainability at a corporate level, we want to develop a sustainability mindset in our youth.

"It is our goal that Singapore's future workforce will begin their careers committed to responsible business practices as a norm."

GCNS said annual membership will cost $50 per person. Young people who sign up in groups of 10 will receive a 10 per cent discount.

It added that the programme aims to give youth a deeper understanding of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which Singapore and almost 200 other UN members have signed up to deliver by 2030.

They include eradication of poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and affordable clean energy.

Miss Levonne Goh, 23, a participant who majors in South-east Asian studies at the National University of Singapore, said of the programme: "The Alliance would give me a head start on a career in sustainability and allow me to get to know like-minded peers on the same career path.

"It is good to get youth involved in sustainability before they even enter the workforce. They can then make more informed choices and this would signal to companies that sustainability is something to take seriously, especially if they want to hire the best talent."

At the launch yesterday, held at the NTUC Centre in Marina Bay, GCNS also organised a youth dialogue that Madam Halimah, Miss Goh and about 300 local and foreign young people took part in.

Madam Halimah took questions from several Asean youth delegates as they discussed topics ranging from climate change and promoting sustainability on digital platforms to the role that young people can play in policy formulation.

Responding to a question from a Cambodian participant about some people's struggle to see Asean's relevance, Madam Halimah acknowledged that this is a "common problem" across Asean countries.

She noted that some fail to see Asean's significance and are disinterested in what it is about.

But Madam Halimah cited how trade with the Asean region and between member states has grown, stressing that Asean is one of the most successful regional groupings in the world.

She attributed this to how Asean has allowed its member countries to engage one another in areas of common importance, such as social and economic issues, and urged youth to work hard to continue its success.

"You have an important job to make sure you spread your understanding and knowledge of Asean, and your own belief about Asean can benefit your country," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline Getting youth more involved in sustainability. Subscribe