Best of our wild blogs: 16 Sep 12

Tides force multiple dates for the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore this year from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and The ICCS Briefing on 25 Aug 2012 – the prelude to the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2012!

International Coastal Cleanup – every effort counts (:
from Nature rambles

The Atlas Moth Chronicles - Episode 3
from Butterflies of Singapore

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Pengerang rides on oil and gas boom: to "challenge Singapore's oil and gas stronghold"

A. Jalil Hamid New Straits Times 16 Sep 12;

DRAWING INVESTORS: Residents will reap huge benefits from numerous projects under way there

.PENGERANG, once a sleepy corner of Johor, is fast turning into a boom town for petroleum investors as the government steps up efforts to turn Malaysia into a regional oil and gas hub, rivalling Singapore.

Located south of Desaru, on the southeastern tip of Johor facing Singapore, Pengerang became the British army's "Waterloo" in 1936 when they paid the price for underestimating their biggest nemesis then -- the Japanese army.

The Japanese captured Malaya without firing a single shot from the Pengerang battery (a fort where weapons such as guns and cannon were stationed) when they surprised the British by landing in Kota Baru instead of Singapore. (The battery was part of the "Singapore fortress", aimed at defending Singapore from a sea attack.)

Decades later, by some strange turn of events, Pengerang is being touted as Asia's latest beacon for global oil and gas investors and a cornerstone in Malaysia's ambitious plan to rival Singapore as a vibrant petroleum hub in Asia.

As we are all aware, Singapore has positioned itself as Southeast Asia's hub for downstream petroleum activities, ranging from oil trading, oil storage, oil refining and petrochemical manufacturing to bunkering (the act or process of supplying fuel to ships).

As part of the government's Economic Transformation Plan, where oil and gas is one of 12 National Key Economic Areas, Malaysia is eager to capture a bigger slice of the global oil trading and storage business to boost the country's key petroleum sector, where Petronas is a big player.

Malaysia has challenged Singapore's oil and gas stronghold by approving a myriad of petroleum-related projects worth more than US$20 billion (RM60.4 billion) in Pengerang.

Once completed, Pengerang could play a bigger role than Rotterdam, which for decades has been the European hub for the trading of crude oil, oil products and coal.

The government's move to draw petroleum investments away from Singapore has caught the attention of the foreign media. The Financial Times reported last week that Malaysia was planning to attract aggressively oil storage operators to Malaysia by offering zero-tax rates as a major incentive. The aim is to triple independent storage capacity based in Johor to 10 million cubic metres by 2017 to match Singapore's current capacity.

In the report, Sushant Gupta, a senior downstream analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said: "The need for storage in Asia is growing because we do see increased trade flows and a lot of new refining capacity is coming from Southeast Asia, not just China and India."

The heart of Pengerang's development is Petronas' RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development, due to begin by middle of next year and operational in 2016.

The other project is Pengerang's RM5 billion deep-water oil terminal, a joint venture between Dialog Group Bhd, Rotterdam-based Royal Vopak N.V. and the Johor government.

Dialog and its partners last week announced their commitment to invest a further RM4.08 billion to develop the Pengerang liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, which will be Asia's first independent LNG trading terminal. The project will include an LNG storage, loading and regasification terminal to import LNG for trading purposes and domestic use.

Johor officials, in a briefing to editors last week, forecast that the total investments could double to US$41 billion from more than US$20 billion committed so far.

The Pengerang development plans, when fully implemented, will be a major turning point for not only Johor but also the country. There will be huge economic spin-offs, including the creation of thousands of new jobs and business opportunities, big or small.

There are, of course, issues related to these development plans, including the relocation of villages, schools and even cemeteries. The opposition, including DAP, is making a big issue over moving the dead.

The Johor government has been engaging the affected people on the relocation and compensation, based on legal provisions. Most villagers have no objections about being relocated but, naturally, they want a bigger compensation. As usual, there is a legal recourse for them.

However, many are happy to take up the state government's compensation offer. Those involved in the Taman Bayu Permai resettlement, for example, will be entitled to new landed properties worth RM245,000 each if their current holding is worth RM95,001 and above. The new house value includes RM140,000 in government subsidy.

Pengerang member of parliament Datuk Azalina Othman Said has claimed that the DAP-backed group represented only a fraction of the Pengerang population. She also alleged that "foreign quarters" were "inciting hatred towards the project".

Those issues aside, the Pengerang development plan is too big to fail. Otherwise, it will send a wrong message to foreign investors on Malaysia's seriousness as a major investment destination.

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Give volunteers power to book litterbugs?

NEA to study idea of conferring such enforcement authority on those from NGOs
Lim Yan Liang Straits Times 16 Sep 12;

One day, someone handing out a summons to a litterbug may not be a government official, but a volunteer from a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The idea of giving such powers to some quarters of the community has been floated by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan to the National Environment Agency (NEA), which will "study whether we can actually confer enforcement authority on these members of the public".

Such a shift would be in keeping with the relaunched Keep Singapore Clean Movement, which is being repositioned as a long-term, community-led initiative.

Speaking on the sidelines of an exhibition at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub for the NEA's 10th anniversary, Dr Balakrishnan said: "I know this will be controversial, so we will definitely consult the public before giving (out) warrant cards.

"We believe that, in fact, we need to reclaim community ownership and community action (over the environment), and that includes enforcement as well."

Shifting away from its government roots towards a community-driven effort, the campaign will be led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), the Keep Singapore Beautiful Movement (KSBM) and the NEA.

"We need to get to the very heart of behaviour change by promoting the right social values, including 'zero tolerance' towards litter, coupled with instilling pride in our environment," said NEA chief executive Andrew Tan. "Such behaviour must start in our homes, schools and offices and be upheld by the larger community."

The chosen organisations are no strangers to efforts to keep Singapore clean. For example, the youth-led KSBM has launched a competition seeking creative and practical ideas to make returning trays at hawker centres and food courts fun, while the SKM will work with the NEA to pilot tray-return programmes at selected hawker centres in the coming months.

The original month-long Keep Singapore Clean campaign was launched by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on Oct 1, 1968. A national campaign committee, headed by then Health Minister Chua Sian Chin, was formed to run it.

PHC chairman Liak Teng Lit said he intends for the new movement to make a significant social impact within the next two years.

"This effort that we are talking about is not a one-off publicity," said Mr Liak, who is also group chief executive of Alexandra Health. "It has to become a movement, a coordinated group action where people do things together with concerted effort. The silent majority must act."

It was reported last month that the NEA had received an increasing number of complaints about litterbugs in recent years: 5,232 last year, up from 4,449 in 2010. But the agency has successfully prosecuted only 42 litterbugs in the past 10 years, despite devoting more than 30,000 man hours last year to enforcement stakeouts and community outreach programmes.

Volunteer groups said Dr Balakrishnan's idea was bold, but not unexpected. "Enforcement as back-up will definitely help us do our job better," said Mr Eugene Heng, 63, founder of the Waterways Watch Society, a 15-year-old local voluntary group.

Mr Heng said some 30 members of his 250-strong organisation already hold volunteer cards issued by the National Parks Board, which has made it easier for them to engage with the more intractable members of the public.

They will be receiving cards from national water agency PUB by the year's end, he added.

He said if the minister's idea came to fruition, it would go only to the most "dedicated and trusted members that have proven they are interested in going the extra mile".

He added that the Government should choose NGOs with proven track records.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment, agreed, and said that comprehensive training by the NEA to deal with difficult scenarios would be crucial should the new powers be granted.

Turning Singapore into a clean city, not a cleaned city: Balakrishnan
Claire Huang Channel NewsAsia 15 Sep 12;

SINGAPORE: Is Singapore a clean city or a cleaned city?

Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan posed this question to Singaporeans.

Speaking at the National Environment Agency's (NEA) 10th anniversary exhibition, Dr Balakrishnan said public cleanliness remains a persistent issue here, despite the many campaigns, heavy fines, stepped-up enforcement and employment of an army of cleaners.

While progress has been made over the years, he urged Singaporeans to initiate a ground-up movement to keep the country litter-free.

The government is hoping to establish a new social norm through the launch of an invigorated "Keep Singapore Clean Movement": cleaning up after oneself instead of relying on others.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore needs to reclaim community ownership and community action to keep the country clean.

"You'll notice that this year, the leadership of the campaign is actually the people sector, so it's with the Public Hygiene Council," he said.

"We're working with many of the NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to run the education programmes, to run the activities on the ground."

"A key reason of course, is the wrong attitude that cleaners are there to pick up after us, and the misplaced notion that this is appropriate behaviour because cleaners are paid to do so," he continued.

"One alarming statistic from NEA's recent surveys is that 36 per cent of Singaporeans would only bin their litter if it is convenient to do so. The solution, my friends, cannot be to employ more and more cleaners."

The Public Hygiene Council and the Singapore Council have come to together to take the lead in changing the mindset of the community.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also suggested that it is perhaps timely for the public to discuss how to keep Singapore clean, as part of the responses to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call to Singaporeans to discuss the nation's future.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan floated the idea of allowing community partners like NGOs to issue littering summonses.

"Should enforcement be confined to uniformed officers of the NEA, or in fact, (the) community partners out there who've demonstrated commitment over many, many years, going around tirelessly, at nights, weekends, picking up litter, trying to spread the message?" he asked.

"Some of these community partners are people whom I think we can rely on and that's why I've asked NEA to study whether we can confer enforcement authority to these members of the public."

He added this move would mean there will be many more eyes and hands available to deter littering.

However, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan admitted that it could bring controversy, so NEA will work on the plan one step at a time.

In response to the minister's suggestion, Chairman of Waterways Watch Society, Eugene Heng welcomed the idea.

While he said the idea gives recognition to committed and passionate members of the public, Mr Heng pointed out that this "is a step into uncharted waters".

"There are 250 volunteers in Waterways Watch Society but not everyone should be given the enforcement authority," said Mr Heng. "I think only the core group of 20 to 30 volunteers should do so."

Mr Heng said it is also important for those given the authority to be trained in engaging with the public so as not to create a whiplash.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also said NEA has worked with mobile applications developer BuUuk to develop a new app named "Clean Lah".

The app's function is to crowd-source for feedback on cleanliness.

"Wherever you are, if you spot a cleaning problem, you can take a picture of it and submit it with an accompanying message via the app, and it will go to NEA for follow-up," he explained.

"As the feedback is geo-tagged, NEA will know if others have already reported from the same location and this would also help to signal the urgency or magnitude of the problem," he continued.

"Those who have submitted feedback will even be able to get a status update on the issue once it is resolved."

- CNA/xq

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Nature+: Towards a New Era of Conservation, Sustainability and Nature-based Solutions

IUCN 15 Sep 12;

Jeju Declaration by the IUCN President, the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea, the Governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and the Chairman of the Korean Organizing Committee on the occasion of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, September 2012

1. The conservation of biological diversity, our life support system, is vitally important to human life. The Earth’s biological diversity, climate and other planetary boundaries are threatened by human activities, including fossil fuel-based, energy-intensive, unsustainable growth. Our generation has the ethical responsibility and opportunity to avert further deterioration of Earth’s biodiversity and biosphere and we will actively contribute to this.

2. Since its creation in 1948, IUCN has contributed to all of the major global discussions about the environment and sustainable development, and was most recently an active participant in the Rio+20 Conference. The outcome document of the Conference describes ‘The Future We Want’ and states that the governments of the world ‘recognize that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development’. The document calls on all countries to take urgent action on ‘the adverse impacts of climate change’.

3. IUCN provides science-based knowledge and policy-relevant advice to overcome the key challenges faced by all of humanity. The discussions undertaken by government, business and civil society participants at the IUCN World Conservation Forum in Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, the Republic of Korea in September 2012, identified the following actions necessary to conserve the Earth’s biological diversity.

Scaling up Conservation

4. All parts of society must take determined measures to scale up the conservation of biological diversity to halt its continued and rapid decline. The loss of biodiversity (species, ecosystems and genes) has grim consequences for humanity, which cannot be accepted.

5. There is mounting evidence that conservation works and thus we must scale up actions on the land and in the sea through large, targeted conservation efforts. In particular, we must ensure that protected areas are well managed; establish species recovery programmes; adopt measures to restore and rehabilitate habitats; strengthen conservation breeding programmes; and reduce or mitigate over exploitation of natural resources.

6. We know that knowledge drives action, and that meaningful action and corrective measures require better knowledge about the threats to biodiversity. We must intensify our efforts to bring together information on species, habitats, ecosystems, governance and gender-differentiated human dependency on nature and provide decision makers with the tools for effective landscape and seascape management, which conserves nature and sustains people’s livelihoods.

Nature-based Solutions

7. Biodiversity should be seen not as a problem but as an opportunity to help achieve broader societal goals. Nature is a major part of the solution to some of the world’s most pressing challenges in climate change, sustainable energy, food security, and economic and social development. Nature-based solutions build upon the proven contribution of well-managed and diverse ecosystems to enhance human resilience and to provide additional development opportunities for men and women in poor communities. We must promote the awareness, knowledge, good governance and sustainable investment to demonstrate why good environmental stewardship is everyone’s concern and how humanity is fundamentally dependent on nature.

8. Valuing nature and ecosystem services is a critical first step towards providing benefits, payments and recognition to the custodians of nature. Nature-based solutions deliver a broad range of societal benefits and are capable of attracting both public and private investment. IUCN will take the lead in conservation that brings communities, civil society, governments and investors together to negotiate and unleash the practical solutions of nature to multiple development challenges, demonstrating their cost-effectiveness and measuring and verifying their impacts.

Sustainability in Action

9. Governments, civil society, businesses and other stakeholders must strengthen their commitment towards sustainability, taking into account its three dimensions: sustained inclusive and equitable economic growth, equitable social development and inclusion, and integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

10. We must mainstream sustainability in societal decisions, supporting the full implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements, including the Rio Conventions, and the recently established Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

11. We must work with the public and private sectors to enhance the transfer of green technology, share knowledge, experience and skills to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem values into global production and consumption. We encourage governments and businesses to pursue inclusive and gender-responsive green growth that ensures social integration of vulnerable groups, helps eradicate poverty, and keeps humanity’s footprint within ecological boundaries.

12. We must mobilize communities working for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and poverty reduction in common efforts to halt biodiversity loss and apply nature-based solutions to conserve biodiversity, enhance resilience, strengthen equity, promote gender equality, reduce poverty and so improve the well-being of people on this planet.

13. All sectors of society must participate fully in implementing the outcomes of Rio+20 at all levels, including the formulation of well-targeted Sustainable Development Goals. We must mobilize all stakeholders for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Targets (adopted at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity) as important means to tackle the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and to enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.

For Our Common Future: Closing the Gaps in Governance of Nature’s Use

14. Rio+20 reinforced the fact that there remain important gaps in environmental governance at all levels. It also highlighted many encouraging examples of how groups can come together to effectively negotiate fair outcomes and take better decisions with regard to the natural resources they depend on. We know that people’s actions and decisions, whether as citizens, economic agents or political authorities, constitute the governance that makes or breaks nature and hence our life support systems. We must ensure that better governance of nature’s use is achieved with greater regularity and consistency by providing decision makers with tools and information to assess and negotiate sustainable use of nature and equitable sharing of benefits.

15. We must support the effective and equitable governance of nature’s use at all relevant levels: stewardship of natural resources by indigenous peoples, integrated management of protected areas and natural resources, and national and international decision making for sustainable development.

16. We must provide strong leadership in advocating for better and more equitable governance of the use of nature and natural resources. IUCN’s unique convening power will encourage the knowledge and action needed to allow humankind to share both responsibility for and benefits of biodiversity conservation.

17. We must respect the rights of socially vulnerable stakeholders including local communities and indigenous peoples, and promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from ecological functions of biodiversity. In this spirit, we encourage all countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits.

The Way Forward from Jeju

18. The Government of the Republic of Korea and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province promise to maintain the World Leaders Dialogues, initiated at this World Conservation Forum, on a regular basis, to be known as the Jeju World Leaders’ Conservation Forum. IUCN will work to ensure that nature-based solutions will be at the centre of the successful delivery of the Aichi Targets, as well as the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference and World Conservation Congresses. IUCN will catalyze actions to demonstrate the potential role of a green economy in public policy and corporate behaviour at local, regional and global levels.

19. At the 2012 World Conservation Congress on the beautiful island of Jeju in the Republic of Korea, IUCN and its many partners met in the spirit of strengthening their cooperation to bring about a just world that values and conserves nature.

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