Best of our wild blogs: 10 Oct 13

Love MacRitchie Walks for NUS – three 2-hour Saturday morning walks from 19 Oct 2013
from Otterman speaks

More than 1,500kg of trash cleared at Kranji East mangrove – data, blog posts and photo albums from ICCS 2013
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Red Junglefowl Roundup Part IV (1)
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Malay Baron
from Butterflies of Singapore

Making the Past Present
from Raffles Museum News

Some of my research students blog
from Otterman speaks

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First ‘green’ SEA Games here in 2015?

Jose Raymond, Today Online, 8 Oct 13;

Major sporting events have an enormous ecological footprint. This is one of the reasons why the environment was introduced as a pillar of Olympism in 1994. The world’s first “green” Games were held in Sydney in 2000.

Mr Franz Beckenbauer, who led the organising committee of the 2006 football World Cup in Germany, saw the challenge of incorporating environmental protection into the organisation of the event — but he also recognised the opportunities, which is why the world was introduced to the “Green Goal” in Germany 2006. Waste, energy, water and mobility were four key areas looked into.

More recently, one of the most memorable programmes administered at last year’s London Olympic Games was its “zero waste to landfills” policy which called upon all participants and spectators to recycle whatever waste they generated.

In less than two years’ time, Singapore will host the Southeast Asian Games in June 2015. It will be the first time that it has hosted the biennial regional event since 1993, although we did play host to the first Asian Youth Games in 2009 and the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

Over the last few months, the organising committee has announced various updates about plans for the SEA Games. What is still lacking, though, is a plan for a sustainably organised event that would also pay careful attention to environmental protection. For a start, the Singapore Environment Council would like the organisers to consider the following.

Firstly, they should ensure that all athletes and officials are transported only in buses which are of Euro 5 standards — or even better, only buses which are hybrids or electricity-driven.

Organisers should also work with the major public transport operators and provide spectators with “season passes”, giving them relatively easy mobility to all venues via public transport.

At the World Cup in 2006, ticket holders were given free rides on public buses and trains. Doing so here would avoid unnecessary traffic jams that lead to greater emissions.

Secondly, Singapore’s landfill space at Pulau Semakau is not infinite. The organisers should look into ensuring a “zero waste to landfill” policy. To achieve this, it would be essential for all venues to be equipped with recycling bins.

All spectators should be reminded of their responsibility to clean up after themselves and to show the world that Singapore is not a “cleaned” city but one where people are socially gracious. All food waste in catering for the contingents should also be recycled.

Thirdly, there should be a policy that any hotel or venue which accommodates the Games’ guests, athletes and officials must adopt strict environmental policies. This means that all air conditioning in the rooms should be set at 25°C. They should also have existing environmental policies in place.

If they do not, then they should not be eligible to tender for any of the contracts which will be up for grabs for the Games. The organising committee has a responsibility to be stewards of the environment, and they should take this huge opportunity to drive the right behaviour among businesses.

Finally, if there is any venue which will need to be upgraded or built, the organisers should ensure that the materials are procured from sustainable sources. This can include construction materials and paint, right down to paper and display materials.

These measures are just the barest minimum the organisers could consider for the SEA Games 2015.

Singapore has often been seen as leaders in the region, especially in our environmental policies which have kept our city clean and green for decades. A green Games would further cement our reputation, and help demonstrate how the region can step up to protect the environment.


Jose Raymond is Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council.

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