Participants and respondents to a national dialogue on Singapore’s environmental future have indicated stronger legislation and early intervention, among other suggestions, as key factors which will be necessary to shift behavioural change towards a cleaner, greener and safer Singapore.
The suggestions and ideas from members of the public from various sectors of society are a result of 19 dialogue sessions which were conducted over a three month period by the Singapore Environment Council, Singapore’s leading non-governmental organisation (NGO) which champions environmental advocacy, education and action.
Other recurring themes which were brought up by participants include better and greener infrastructure, a stronger culture of corporate citizenship as well as consistency in policies, messages and actions. (Please refer to Annex A for the list of recurring themes.)
“The ENVision dialogue sessions have been an effective conduit in gathering feedback from the ground, to continually nurture citizens who exhibit ownership, responsibility and care for our environment. The visioning report addresses common issues pertaining to Singapore, which includes how the people sector, one of the most important Ps in the 3P framework which make up the Public, Private and People sectors, should be empowered with the right to be heard and make a difference in how environmental policies are crafted,” said Mr Jose Raymond, Chief Executive of the SEC.
Added Mr Raymond: “The challenges we face now, and in the near future, will require a many-hands-on-deck approach, and solutions will have to be co-constructed by using a 3P framework. This is one of the reasons why it is crucial for all sectors to work together to achieve a common objective of a sustainable, clean, green and safe city of the future.”
Agreeing with Mr Raymond, Mr Eu Pui Sun, Senior Vice President of Senoko Energy Pte Ltd said: “It is crucial for Singapore to work ceaselessly to preserve what little we have in the environmental areas at a sustainable level. Those of us who care for environmental issues need to be the brave conscience of our nation, and speak out just as we did during the ENVision dialogues.”
Besides those from the business community, the dialogue sessions also involved participants from the community groups, government agencies, NGOs, schools and the youth sectors, among others.
Students, who formed nearly half of the participants, also felt empowered to speak their minds on Singapore’s green future.
“It is wrong to think that individual efforts do not make a difference. It is through our little initiatives that the world can become more environmentally friendly,” opined Mr Gideon Loh, a Secondary 2 student from Queensway Secondary School.
From the list of recurring themes, the SEC was able to conclude that the three values which Singaporeans and members of the public felt strongly about were ‘Care, Responsibility and Ownership’.
“Participants were forthcoming with their feedback and showed a keen sense of interest in the future of our earth and nation, perhaps attributable to the atypical weather conditions Singapore has seen recently such as the haze and dry spell. We are confident that the visioning report will play an essential role in ensuring the success of a sustainable future due to its grounds-up approach, strategically targeted at every sector. It also underscores the vital role that NGOs like the SEC play in tackling national issues. Ultimately, what’s important is that we have to take ownership and be responsible stewards of the environment,” added Mr Raymond.
The findings will form the basis of an upcoming review for the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, and are in response to the call made by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at the Singapore Sustainability Symposium held on 8 Jan 2014.
“Everyone can make a difference, regardless of our backgrounds. It begins with one and it begins with me,” said Mr Lawrence Joseph, Associate General Secretary of Singapore Kindness Movement.
“Though the series of ENVision dialogue sessions have ended, the conversation has only just begun – we look forward to receiving more views from the public to help us further refine the visioning statement,” added Mr Raymond.