Singapore focuses on outcomes, not ideology, to foster inclusive society, says Masagos Zulkifli in New York

Mr Masagos Zulkifli said Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policy making and governance. PHOTO: ST FILE

WASHINGTON - Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policy making and governance, focusing on outcomes, not ideology, to foster a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous society, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, told the UN's 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development on Tuesday (July 17) in New York.

"Our economic transformation is a story about uplifting our people's lives, by providing good education, health, housing, employment and a clean environment," Mr Masagos said in Singapore's National Statement.

The HLPF is a global forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore are presenting Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) from July 16 to 18. Mr Masagos will deliver Singapore's on Wednesday.

There are 17 SDGs. Among the goals to be achieved by 2030 are no poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy.

"Ultimately, the 2030 Agenda is about transforming our people's lives," Mr Masagos said. "We also have the responsibility to work in partnership with our people, businesses and members of the international community."

The minister outlined three key elements of Singapore's strategy - balancing economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion; long-term integrated policy planning and implementation; and collaborative partnerships.

"Governments alone cannot tackle climate change and sustainability," Mr Masagos said.

"Singapore has designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, to increase awareness and spur nationwide action. In six months, close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, business corporations and Civil Society Organisations have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint."

Singapore had avoided compromising its environment, and will implement an economy-wide carbon tax without exemption from 2019, he said.

"This will accelerate innovation and energy efficiency, shifting our economy and society towards a sustainable, low-carbon future," the minister said.

Singapore had also made investments to ensure water resilience and sustainability, he said. "Today, we have a diversified water supply - imported water, local catchments, desalination and recycled wastewater."

Stressing the importance of collaboration, Mr Masagos added: "The goals of the 2030 Agenda represent the collective aspirations of our global community."

"Their unprecedented ambition and scale require our unwavering commitment. Singapore will continue to work with our friends and partners to help uplift the lives of people around the world."

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