Sustainability, the Singapore Way
by Claire Langrée Saf (first published in the AWA May-June 2022 issue)
What is sustainability?
According to the Brundtland Commission's report, sustainable development, the processes used to pursue sustainability, means "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."
Many challenges for sustainability both affect and are affected by the climate: for instance, a warming Earth will make it harder to grow enough food, and clear-cutting forests to grow that food contributes to climate change. As with climate action, sustainability can also be a lens for thinking about personal choices and behaviors. Singapore tackles the sustainability and climate change challenges through its Singapore Green Plan 2030, a whole-of-nation movement to advance Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development.
What Does the Green Plan Seek To Achieve?
The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete targets over the next 10 years, strengthening Singapore’s commitments under the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement, and positioning Singapore to achieve its long-term net zero emissions aspiration as soon as viable.
There are five key programmes of the Green Plan:
1. City in Nature
Singapore will set aside 50% more land – around 200 hectares – for nature parks. Every household will live within a ten-minute walk of a park. One million more trees across the Little Red Dot, to be planted by 2030 to absorb another 78,000 tons of CO2, providing cleaner air, and cooler shade.
2. Energy Reset
While the space for large-scale renewable energy projects is not readily available, Singapore strives to become more energy efficient. By quadrupling its solar energy deployment, solar energy deployed will be five times that of today by 2030. Beyond HDB towns, Singapore will green 80% of all buildings over the next decade and plans to fully embrace electric vehicles (EVs). Combined, all these efforts will reduce energy consumption by more than 8 million megawatt hours per year, reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3 million tons per year by 2030.
Singapore wants to play active and important roles in fulfilling two international goals:
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s aspirational goals of 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement from now to 2050 and carbon neutral growth from 2020.
The International Maritime Organization’s target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, and to phase out such GHG emissions in this century.
3. Green economy
Tackling climate change is a key competitive advantage, and will present new opportunities for growth and job creation.
Among the 2030 targets are:
Jurong Island to be a sustainable energy and chemicals park
Singapore as a sustainable tourism destination
Singapore as a leading center for green finance and services to facilitate Asia’s transition to a low-carbon and sustainable future
Singapore as a leading regional center for developing new sustainability solutions
4. Resilient Future
By increasing greenery and piloting the use of cool paint on building facades, Singapore aims to moderate the rise in urban heat. As a food loving nation, Singapore has to make its food supply more resilient and have announced its 30-by-30 target – to meet 30% of nutritional needs through locally produced food by 2030.
5. Sustainable Living
Living in a circular economy, with a high rate of recycling, means that precious resources can be used many times over. Singapore is looking at turning incineration bottom ash into NEWS and for use in construction, which will contribute to its target to reduce waste to landfill by 30% by 2030.
Singapore is also looking at ways to raise trips taken on mass public transport from 64% to 75% by 2030 with the support of the Eco Stewardship Programme involving students from Primary to Pre-University levels to genuinely understand sustainability and climate change challenges.
Lastly, Singapore aims to reduce the amount of waste to landfill per capita per day by 20% and its household water consumption to 130 liters per capita per day.
More information in Singapore's Green Plan 2030 can be found here: https://www.greenplan.gov.sg
Claire moved to Singapore in 2014, with her husband and two daughters. Here she turned to her lifelong passion and trained as a sustainability professional. She now has a local/global sustainability network. Claire runs, reads and photographs with AWA.