Mentorship scheme to spur youth to roll out green solutions

63 youth and 52 mentors have signed up, with 2nd round of applications now ongoing

Singapore wants its young people to come up with innovative solutions to spur sustainability in companies and the community.

Media outlet Eco-Business' non-profit arm EB Impact has started a mentorship programme where groups of young people will help to solve environmental issues for companies, under the guidance of professionals in the green sector.

This initiative, which has seen 63 youth and 52 mentors signing up so far since the middle of last month, was officially launched at a virtual dialogue yesterday.

The event included Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, and Transport, Dr Amy Khor, students, climate activists and professionals.

The mentorship programme, called Sustainability Exchange, also opened a second round of applications yesterday on the EB Impact website, which will close on Dec 11.

Applicants must be aged between 19 and 30, and they should be passionate about sustainability issues and have shown some activism in green causes. Mentors should have at least five years of experience in a green-related field.

Each mentor will be matched with three to four young people based on their interests. The three-month mentorship will start on Jan 11 and end in April.

At the end of the programme, the youth have to submit a written report explaining their solutions. The programme is held in partnership with Facebook and supported by Climate Action SG Alliance.

During the dialogue, Dr Khor highlighted four areas that she hopes young people will act upon: coming up with zero-waste strategies to cut the amount of waste going into Semakau Landfill by 2030, research into technologies for converting waste into useful products, climate science, and ways to protect the coast against sea-level rise.

She stressed that youth should understand the "intricacies, the considerations and the trade-offs that are often required when incorporating sustainability in policies and business decisions".

She added: "This will enable them to effectively lead the charge against climate change."

One professional who has signed up to be a mentor is Ms May Liew, electricity and gas provider SP Group's head of sustainability and open innovation.

It recently released a feature on its app that allows customers to buy green credits and support renewable-energy projects. Ms Liew hopes to hear from her mentees on ways to market this initiative.

Ms Sheri Zuleika, 22, an undergraduate at Singapore Management University (SMU) who joined the programme, is no stranger to green solutions.

She and two friends from SMU and the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science recently joined a competition where they proposed ways to reduce food and general waste on Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights.

To ensure that SIA still makes money from sustainable decisions, they suggested that it could sell the energy from processed food waste.

The North West Community Development Council is also calling for more young people and students from the district to propose sustainable ideas.

Last year, it announced a fund of $300,000 to support ground-up environmental projects, among others.

Recently, students from Northland Secondary School made use of another environmental fund from the council to address the problem of bruised fruit and vegetables going to waste.

The students used the blemished produce left on supermarket shelves to cook meals and help people realise that "ugly food" is still edible.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'Mentorship scheme to spur youth to roll out green solutions'. Subscribe