Singapore takes pragmatic approach to sustainable development: Masagos

Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policymaking, focussing on outcomes and not ideology, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Jul 18).

Speaking in New York at the United Nations' High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Mr Masagos said Singapore has "always put its people at the centre" of development policies.

"Singapore has always put its people at the centre of all its development policies," he said. "Our economic transformation is a story about uplifting our people’s lives, by providing good education, health, housing, employment and a clean environment."

"We take a pragmatic approach to policymaking and governance, focusing on outcomes, not ideology, to foster a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous society."

The HLPF is a global forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide - and its 17 sustainable development goals.

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore presented their voluntary national reviews over three days of ministerial meetings from Jul 16 to 18.

Delivering Singapore's national statement, Mr Masagos highlighted three elements that he said were key to Singapore's development approach.

These include the balancing of economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion, said the minister, citing the example of the carbon tax.

"This year, we decided to 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."

Secondly, Singapore pursues a "long-term, integrated approach to policy planning and implementation", he said.

He gave the example of Singapore's water needs, and said that the country has "worked hard and made heavy investments" to ensure water resilience and sustainability.

In addition, Singapore's policy formulation and implementation are underpinned by "collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships", said Mr Masagos, adding that governments alone cannot tackle climate change and sustainability.

Touching on the 2018 Year of Climate Action in Singapore, Mr Masagos said that in six months, close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, corporations and civil society organisations have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint.

The minister also stressed Singapore's commitment to partner with and help other countries.

"The goals of the 2030 Agenda represent the collective aspirations of our global community," he said. "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 in this noble enterprise."

Source: CNA/nc(hm)

Singapore focuses on outcomes, not ideology, to foster inclusive society, says Masagos Zulkifli in New York
Nirmal Ghosh Straits Times 18 Jul 18;

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.”

Masagos tells UN of S'pore's pragmatic way of governance
Nirmal Ghosh Straits Times 19 Jul 18;

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 a UN gathering 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 to the UN's 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on Tuesday.

The forum aims to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and affordable clean energy.

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore are presenting voluntary national reviews from July 16 to 18. 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.

Nirmal Ghosh



Partnerships essential to Singapore's sustainable development: Masagos
Channel NewsAsia 19 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's progress in areas of sustainable development is testament to the "strong collaborative partnerships" between the Government, industries and its people, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Thursday (Jul 19).

Mr Masagos presented Singapore's voluntary national review at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York on Thursday.

"Singapore pursued sustainable development even before the term became fashionable," he said.

"Since independence, we have tried balancing environmental considerations with economic development, believing that the two are complementary, not contradictory."

In a Facebook post about his speech, the minister said he spoke on the progress Singapore had made in its "unwavering pursuit" of sustainable development.

Said Mr Masagos: "Our path of sustainable development was not without challenges, and these achievements are testament to the strong collaborative partnerships built between our Government, industries and people, as well as Singapore’s firm belief in building a clean and green city that we can call home.

"But we will continue to work hard to improve the well-being of our people."

The HLPF is a global forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide - and its 17 sustainable development goals.

At the forum, 47 countries, including Singapore, presented their voluntary national reviews over three days of ministerial meetings from Jul 16 to 18.

Presenting Singapore's review, Mr Masagos highlighted the importance of "collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships", saying that in the first half of 2018 - Singapore's Year of Climate Action - close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, corporations and civil society organisations have pledged to save energy and water, practise recycling and fight climate change.

"Partnerships are key to sustainability," said the minister. "For a decade, Singapore has been hosting the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and Clean-Enviro Summit Singapore to share and co-create solutions for urban sustainability."

As Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore also convened the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action last week, said Mr Masagos. Together with key partners, it reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement and regional action to tackle climate change.

The minister also gave an overview of Singapore's progress in implementing the sustainable development goals.

Firstly he spoke about the issue of water resilience.

Pointing out that the World Resources Institute ranks Singapore as the country most at risk of water stress by 2040, Mr Masagos highlighted features such as Singapore's national water recycling system that transforms wastewater into reclaimed NEWater, as well as the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System that collects and transports wastewater.

This will be extended by 100km by 2025 to transport and turn more wastewater into NEWater for industrial use and domestic consumption, said Mr Masagos.

He also spoke about Singapore's implementation of the Carbon Tax, which he said would "incentivise emissions reduction and encourage companies to transit to a low-carbon future".

Pointing out that 95 per cent of Singapore's electricity is generated from natural gas, Mr Masagos said that the country was also "aggressively developing solar energy", installing solar panels on the roofs of public housing blocks and launching the world's largest floating solar photovoltaic test-bed.

Mr Masagos also spoke about other initiatives including the Tuas Nexus wastewater treatment and solid waste management site and sustainable urban environment planning including Punggol New Town.


Masagos highlights Singapore's water management at UN forum
Minister casts spotlight on nation's Newater, plans to expand 'wastewater superhighway'
Nirmal Ghosh Straits Times 20 Jul 18;

Singapore's water innovation and management were among key issues in Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli's presentation in New York on Wednesday at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Singapore was one of 47 countries presenting Voluntary National Reviews at the event - the United Nations' forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and affordable clean energy.

Stressing resilience in the face of climate change-induced weather volatility, Mr Masagos told the forum: "Our national water recycling system collects and treats every drop of wastewater and transforms it into Newater - Singapore's ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water."

He also highlighted the country's "wastewater superhighway", the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, for collecting and transporting wastewater. "The current tunnel, 48km long and linked to 60km of sewers, will be extended by 100km by 2025 to transport and turn more wastewater into Newater for industrial use and domestic consumption."

He added: "By reusing water endlessly, Newater cushions our water supply against dry weather, enhancing Singapore's water sustainability and resilience to shifting climatic patterns."

Separately, he told The Straits Times in an interview: "There are existential issues we have defined for ourselves; water is one example. And when people think the problem is over, suddenly something happens that reminds us it is not."

He noted: "Even (nature) is not reliable. Our rainfall in Singapore has been falling over the years."

A key challenge was technology.

"By moving away from nature to used water, and also desalinated water, instead of being weather-reliant, we have become energy-reliant, and now our new pursuit is to find energy solutions to our water problem," said Mr Masagos.

But there are opportunities behind all the climate change-related challenges mankind is facing, he said. "In our case, water is the best illustration; we are turning to technology to resolve the problems."

He added: "Even after finding reverse osmosis will solve our problem, we are looking for technologies to reduce the amount of energy by half of what we're (using) today."

One emerging global environmental concern is the prevalence of single-use plastics. A ban on plastic bags would address part of the problem, Mr Masagos said. But other single-use plastics such as forks and spoons as well as packaging were also an issue.

"There will be parts of it where we will legislate," he said, citing legislation requiring packaging producers, from 2020, to report how much packaging material they are putting into the environment. "It's the same principle (with) e-waste."

Tackling packaging and electronic waste will be part of nudging the industry into a "circular economy so we can recover as much resources as possible before they become waste or (get) incinerated".

But fighting climate change has to be a concerted global effort involving public participation, said Mr Masagos. "It's not just that the (Sustainable Development Goals) are connected; these are all transboundary issues... What some country does will affect us and what we do will affect others," he said.

"We have to work together to resolve climate change; if we are not together, we just can't get there."

He added: "Climate change is real and everybody is going to suffer if everybody doesn't cooperate. It is about consumers also recognising they, too, have a big impact."

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