Best of our wild blogs: 2 Nov 17

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Government announces National Strategic Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Cheryl Goh Channel NewsAsia 1 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: A national strategic action plan has been developed by Singapore One Health agencies to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This was announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min at an AMR public health dialogue on Wednesday (Nov 1).

The World Health Organisation defines AMR as the ability of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites to stop an antimicrobial, such as antibiotics, from working against it.

This means that standard treatments become ineffective, and infections persist and may spread to other people.

Developed by the One Health Antimicrobial Resistance Workgroup, which comprises the Ministry of Health (MOH), Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, National Environment Agency and National Water Agency PUB, the action plan provides a framework to strengthen and enhance activities to combat AMR, address identified gaps and prioritise future interventions, the agencies said in a joint release.

It aims to reduce the emergence and prevent the spread of drug-resistant microorganisms through five core strategies.

These are education, surveillance and risk assessment, research, prevention and control of infection, and optimisation of antimicrobial use.

Dr Lam said that the group is also looking into strengthening public education efforts on AMR.

This could include activities in schools to "engage our children from a young age" and teach them about "simple steps" like maintaining personal hygiene as well as a more in-depth understanding of how antibiotics work.

"It is only a matter of time after the discovery of an antimicrobial and its introduction to market that a microorganism develops resistance to it, often fuelled by the overuse or abuse of these antimicrobials," said Dr Lam.

"The extreme scenario of AMR – of having no effective antibiotics to treat infections, will bring us to a post-antibiotic era where simple infections may kill."

He pointed out that even today, there exist infections that do not respond to many treatment options.

"We must therefore take action now," he said.

To this end, Dr Lam also identified three term longer-term efforts needed to combat AMR.

The first of these is integration, said Dr Lam, which is the need to coordinate efforts across sectors.

“In human health, MOH has been supporting surveillance of resistant infections and antimicrobial usage in public hospitals," he said.

"Hospital surveillance teams actively monitor AMR and data from such activities have enabled the implementation control measures to prevent the transmission of infections by resistant microorganisms."

The second is in-depth research, to understand the complex factors influencing AMR and to develop innovative, evidence-based initiatives.

The third is recognising that AMR is a global problem, said Dr Lam, and that Singapore domestic efforts must complement work done by international counterparts.
Source: CNA/nc

National strategy launched to halt the march of drug-resistant bacteria
LOUISA TANG Today Online 2 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — To stop the threat of drug-resistant bacteria from spiralling out of control, the authorities announced a national strategy on Wednesday (Nov 1) that will cut improper use of antibiotics in humans and locally farmed animals.

Announcing the launch of the National Strategic Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance nearly a year after work on it was first reported, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min stressed the need to take action now.

“The extreme scenario of antimicrobial resistance – of having no effective antibiotics to treat infections – will bring us to a post-antibiotic era where simple infections may kill. Even today, there exist infections that do not respond to many treatment options,” said Dr Lam at a public-health dialogue on the subject at the National University of Singapore.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when disease-causing microbes, such as bacteria, viruses or parasites, grow resistant to the effects of medicine that used to be able to kill them.

Guidelines on appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines in primary care clinics and community settings will be issued. Local studies have found that the majority of primary care doctors believed antibiotics are over-prescribed in primary care. Incentives could be offered to encourage doctors to optimise antimicrobial use, according to the plan.

The topic will be expanded in undergraduate and postgraduate training of doctors, and the authorities will also organise campaigns to educate the public on the myths and bad practices of antibiotics use. Messages will include the fact that antibiotics do not work for viral infections.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, Vice-Dean of Research and Dean-Designate at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said it is important for both general practitioners (GPs) and individuals to know when not to prescribe or request for antibiotics.

The authorities need to “send a message” to GPs and polyclinics that they should not prescribe antibiotics just because patients ask for it, he noted.

When dispensing antibiotics, doctors should also remind patients to “follow the regulations and instructions on finishing the course of antibiotics, and not to stop the course whenever a patient feels better”, he added.

Antimicrobial resistance is a problem worldwide.

Globally, 480,000 people develop multi-drug resistant tuberculosis each year and drug resistance is starting to complicate efforts to tackle malaria and the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America estimates that half or more of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions for some common infections are unnecessary or inconsistent with current guidelines.

Agencies in Singapore have some measures in place but the national plan identifies “priority areas” that involve more work and research.

For instance, all public acute hospitals have had antimicrobial stewardship programmes since 2011 to guide doctors in making appropriate choices, but the programmes will be reviewed to be more effective.

Surveillance of drug-resistant infections will be stepped up to include private hospitals and the community, instead of only public hospitals.

And in food production, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) routinely tests animal feed, meat, dairy products, eggs and egg products, honey and drinking water for antibiotic residues. It will strengthen this by ensuring test methods remain relevant.

To do risk assessments, more data and studies will be needed. For instance, humans can be exposed to drug-resistant organisms in the food chain but the agencies said “more clarity is needed”.

“Little is currently known about the occurrence, effects, biodegradation and significance associated with the release and accumulation of antimicrobials in the environment,” the plan noted. “There is a need to understand how antimicrobials (including disinfectants) may contribute to the selection and spread of drug-resistant organisms in the natural environment and throughout the water and used-water treatment processes.”

One way of prevention and infection control is through immunisation.

The MOH introduced the National Adult Immunisation Schedule last month and will monitor vaccine uptake.

Professor Teo said vaccinations would greatly aid in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, being “a first-line defence” against preventable infections. The authorities will also promote the use of vaccines in livestock, pets and fish, to reduce reliance on antimicrobials. This will involve parties such as pet owners, vets and farmers.

Details on goals for the next five years, measures and ways to monitor outcomes will be developed, stated the plan by the One Health Antimicrobial Resistance Workgroup comprising the Ministry of Health, AVA, National Environment Agency and national water agency PUB.

How the national plan aims to reduce drug resistance in bacteria, viruses and fungi
Salma Khalik Straits Times 1 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - Work to reduce drug resistance in bacteria, viruses and fungi has been ongoing in Singapore for years, but has been carried out in silos.

In a step to bring together the agencies involved – the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, the Health Ministry, the National Environment Agency and national water agency PUB – the Government set up a multi-ministerial committee in January to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a whole-of-government effort.

It has come up with a National Strategic Action Plan, which was launched on Wednesday (Nov 1). The plan looks at gaps in current efforts and suggests ways to deal with them to prevent the AMR problem from getting worse.


- Greater awareness among people on the importance of using antibiotics correctly. For example, antibiotics are of no use against viral infections such as the flu.

- Getting more people to be vaccinated against infections. Fewer infections mean less need for antibiotics. The recently launched adult vaccination programme is a step in this direction.

- Strengthen AMR education among doctors. Many doctors believe antibiotics are overprescribed in primary care.


- Greater education among veterinarians and farmers on the proper use of antimicrobials. This is because animals are fed antibiotics, and some of it would remain in the food we eat.

- Expand surveillance of bacteria and resistance to include all animal production sectors such as poultry and fish farms.

- Identify resistance against certain bacteria in poultry, diary and food-fish farms.

- Promote use of vaccines to prevent disease in animals and fish, rather than use drugs to treat them.

- Improve animal management process to reduce infectious diseases in animals, and thus, reduce the use of antimicrobials.

- Reduce inappropriate use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.


- Educate the industry on the proper disposal of antimicrobial waste, as it could spread resistance. This includes not just farmers, but also manufacturers, distributors and pet owners.

- Standardise data reporting of resistant drugs and other related information for easier surveillance.

- Enhance laboratory testing capacity, including identifying a core panel of microbials for surveillance.

- Surveillance of drug-resistant organisms in retail food and meat. Identify risks and trends of drug-resistant organisms along the food chain, as people can become drug resistant this way.

- Surveillance of the environment, including water bodies and used water in treatment processes, which may harbour traces of antibiotics or drug-resistant organisms.

- Educate food handlers to maintain high levels of hygiene.

New workgroup set up to fight antimicrobial resistance
Salma Khalik Straits Times 1 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - Microbial bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs, making it more difficult to treat certain diseases.

To reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which can be caused by the overuse or abuse of medication like antibiotics, Singapore has set up a One Health AMR workgroup to provide a whole-of-government effort.

The workgroup will focus on three main areas - coordinating the surveillance activities of the problem across the different agencies, research on the factors that are related to it, and cooperating with overseas partners, as diseases may cross borders.

Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min, who announced this at a dialogue on Wednesday (Nov 1), said that this national strategic action plan sets the framework for Singapore's response to AMR.

"It is only a matter of time after the discovery of an antimicrobial and its introduction to market that a microorganism develops resistance to it, often fuelled by the overuse or abuse of these antimicrobials," said Dr Lam, who was speaking at the Public Health Thought Leadership Dialogue on Antimicrobial Resistance, held at the National University of Singapore.

Should antibiotics be no longer effective, then even simple infections could kill.

Dr Lam said the plan includes education of the public to raise awareness of the problem and what they can do to prevent it

It involves even children, with school activities to teach them about the risk of AMR.

"These can include simple steps such as maintaining good hand and personal hygiene, to more in-depth understanding of antibiotics and how they work," he said.

Aside from public education, the One Health agencies will also work with professionals and industry.

Dr Lam said three key elements in Singapore's fight is:

- Integration of the various agencies, such as the coordination of surveillance activities and data sharing across sectors. "This is important to improve our understanding of how AMR develops and circulates between humans, animals, food and the environment," he said.

- In-depth research to understand the complex factors influencing AMR. He highlighted a recent four-year study by clinicians and researchers of National University Health System, Singapore General Hospital and the Communicable Diseases Centre. The study focused on the use of novel diagnostics, infection control strategies and behavioural sciences to strengthen institutional and national capability in targeting drug-resistant bacteria.

- International collaboration. "Our domestic efforts must be complemented by cooperation and partnerships with our neighbours and international counterparts, where we learn from each other through the sharing of best practices in our collective effort to fight AMR," he said.

Joining hands to tackle superbugs
Salma Khalik Straits Times 6 Nov 17;

Singapore is a small country, so attempts to cut down on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) here are unlikely to impact the global scene. Furthermore, a lot of antimicrobials, antibiotics in particular, are used in farming, a sector that is pretty small here.

So, does having a national plan to combat AMR make sense? The answer is yes, for two good reasons.

The first is to remind people that many small efforts can together make a huge difference.

The other reason hits closer to home. By actively fighting the spread of superbugs, people here are protected to a greater extent.

While it might not be possible to stop a superbug from infecting people here, good hygiene practices, such as washing one's hands or covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, can help stop it from spreading.

Singapore is also encouraging adult vaccines by allowing the use of Medisave for such purposes. Vaccines significantly reduce the incidence of infections. This, in turn, reduces the need to use antimicrobials to treat the ailment.

Also, farms can reduce the use of antibiotics in animals. Giving animals antibiotics to hasten their growth has led to an increase in resistance, and these resistant bugs can be passed from animals to people. People can also get infected by these bugs from the air, soil and water they come into contact with. It is therefore important to ensure that waste water from places that make or use antimicrobials do not carry trace amounts of the drugs.

There is a real risk that these could gradually build up resistance in bugs in the water, and in time, fish. This would impact the people who eat the fish.

That is why the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, the National Environment Agency and national water agency PUB have joined forces with the Health Ministry. This whole-of-government effort is a necessary move in the fight against AMR. And such a fight is necessary to protect our people.

Winning the fight against antimicrobial resistance

In a reflection of the complex nature of the problem, the workgroup that developed the plan included representatives from four government agencies – the Ministry of Health, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, National Environment Agency and PUB.

The 24-page document broadly follows the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan on AMR that was launched in 2015.

There are five core strategies aimed at limiting the spread of antimicrobial-resistant microbes and the hard to treat drug-resistant infections that they can cause.

These are education, surveillance, research, prevention of infection, and optimisation of antibiotic use.

The plan also outlines existing initiatives – largely driven by the four government agencies independently – and the gaps in each area.

But there are few details available at this point, as this is a “living document” and many of the proposed programmes are still work in progress.

The challenges posed by AMR are manifold and intricate.

The issue itself is invisible to and poorly understood by the majority of people.

Fundamentally, the ability of a microbe (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) to develop or acquire resistance to the drugs used to kill them is a natural evolutionary phenomenon.

Many antibiotics are developed from natural occurring compounds used by microbes against each other – penicillin, famously, was isolated from a fungus – and thus the building blocks for resistance to these drugs already exist in the environment.

The widespread use of antibiotics in humans and agriculture artificially accelerates the process of resistance development.

Human activities, including delivery of complex healthcare to older and sicker patients, global travel and the industrial food production chain, facilitate the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

There is no “safe level” of antibiotic use below which AMR does not develop.

Yet, antibiotics are crucial to human and animal health, and excessive restriction of antibiotic use can potentially harm people - especially in the short term - even more than overuse of antibiotics in the long term.

Most people. including many health professionals, believe that hospitals and other healthcare institutions are the main generators and amplifiers of AMR.

This is a misconception. Antibiotic use in primary care has been shown to drive the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the community.

The volume of antibiotic use in agriculture and animal husbandry far exceeds that in humans. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food chain as a result of such practices have caused infections and outbreaks in humans, either directly or through sharing of antibiotic resistance genes with human bacteria.


Perhaps surprising for a small and otherwise efficient country, we have an incomplete grasp of the scale of the problem of AMR in Singapore. The amount of antibiotics prescribed in private hospitals and collectively among general practitioners is not known, as is the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both private hospitals and community.

Traditionally, meat and other foodstuffs are not tested for the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but rather for antibiotic and other chemical residues in addition to specific bacteria that cause foodborne outbreaks, such as Salmonella species.

The socioeconomic impact of AMR specific to Singapore is also not well defined. Such knowledge is important for the calibration and future sustainability of intervention programmes.

Efforts at controlling the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria often run up against competing interests quickly. To name but a few:

1. When hospitals are full, separation of patients infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and implementation of infection prevention measures become challenging.

2. The use of rapid diagnostic tests for screening of inpatients for antibiotic-resistant bacteria incurs additional costs, and it is unclear at present who should bear them.

3. Prescribing is not separated from dispensing in Singapore. That is, doctors and vets can both prescribe drugs and sell them directly from their clinics. It is the professionalism of doctors and vets that is the primary barrier to profiteering from inappropriate antibiotic prescription. But patients and pet owners who demand antibiotics can chip away at this barrier.

4. The cost of meat obtained from animals raised without antibiotic growth promoters is higher, at least in this part of the world, and it is unclear if many people would willingly accept a cost difference of at least 20 per cent. It would also be difficult to officially verify claims that the animals were indeed raised “antibiotic growth promoter-free”. Or even truly “antibiotic-free”.

What will success in Singapore in our efforts to control antibiotic resistance look like?

Because microbes constantly evolve and new antibiotic-resistant bacteria will continue to emerge, there must always be effective, safe and relatively cheap antibiotics for infections in both humans and animals.

Many of the gains in cancer chemotherapy, transplant and other surgeries came about because of effective antibiotics that were available to treat patients with weakened immune systems.

AMR should not be allowed to significantly impact healthcare delivery or food safety. Whether we can slow the current trend towards increasing AMR is questionable, given the open nature of Singapore and dependence on global food production.

But Singapore cannot give up without trying, and it should do so in partnership with the region and internationally, as success in Singapore will depend on our neighbours being able to control AMR too.

The primary merit of Singapore’s national action plan, besides being a public declaration of resolve, is to highlight the interconnectedness of human and animal health and practices in the issue of AMR, and to focus the efforts of all stakeholder government agencies on this issue.

A long-term sustained effort is also explicitly spelled out. Bottom-up efforts from the various communities in human and animal health to promote education and awareness of antibiotics and AMR, research for better understanding of the issue, and private-public partnerships on interventions to control AMR will be necessary to match the top-down initiative that led to the development of the plan.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, who leads the Antimicrobial Resistance Programme at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, was a member of the workgroup that developed the National Strategic Action Plan. Professor Paul Ananth Tambyah is an infectious diseases physician and professor of medicine at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

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HDB calls 'largest tender' to install solar panels across government agencies

Channel NewsAsia 1 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has called what it says is its largest solar leasing tender to date, it announced in a joint release with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on Wednesday (Nov 1).

This is the third tender to be launched under the SolarNova programme which is jointly led by HDB and the EDB. The first SolarNova tender was awarded in December 2015 and the second was awarded in June this year.

This third tender will aggregate demand for the installation of solar panels across eight governmental agencies, including the Building and Construction Authority, Institute of Technical Education, National Heritage Board and Sport Singapore.

Compared to previous tenders, more HDB blocks have been identified for this tender, said the joint release.

A total of 848 HDB blocks under West Coast and Choa Chu Kang town councils and 27 government sites will be installed with solar panels. The sites include CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School (Primary and Secondary), Dunman Secondary School, CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Choa Chu Kang Columbarium and Changi Prison Complex.

Tenderers are also required to optimise the roof space for solar panel installation.

With this tender, solar photovoltaic systems of 50 megawatt-peak (MWp) will be installed - a 25 per cent increase over the previous two SolarNova tenders, which involved the installation of 40 MWp of solar photovoltaic systems each, said the joint release.

The tender will close on Jan 31 next year and is scheduled to be awarded in the second quarter of 2018. The solar photovoltaic systems are expected to be installed by the second quarter of 2020.

HDB is currently the largest stakeholder in solar photovoltaic installation in Singapore, said Dr Cheong Koon Hean, HDB's chief executive officer.

According to Dr Cheong, HDB has committed to fulfil more than 60 per cent of the 350 MWp of solar capacity that Singapore is planning to achieve by 2020.

"To allow government agencies to leverage HDB’s economies of scale, we have aggregated the demand across agencies under the SolarNova programme jointly with EDB," she said.

She added that with the third SolarNova tender, HDB is on track to achieve its goal of rolling out 220MWp of solar panels across 5,500 HDB blocks by 2020.


Mr Arief S Budiman, assistant professor for engineering product development at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, told Channel NewsAsia that HDB’s latest move would have a positive impact on the energy market in Singapore.

“It is not only encouraging on technical accounts, since solar photovoltaic or PV (systems are) now robust and a technically reliable energy source for the energy market in Singapore and also for the long term ... in providing some security and resilience for Singapore, enabling us to provide for our own energy needs.”

Mr Budiman also noted that the solar PV sector in Singapore is maturing and that demand is expected to be strong.

However, he warned that there are other concerns that need to be addressed.

“The effect of degradation of solar PV systems especially in Singapore's tropical climate and high humidity conditions as well as high frequency of rain, which could lead to much more and earlier water-related degradation, especially to the polymer components of solar PV panels,” he said.

Mr Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, agreed with Mr Budiman on the challenges going forward.

“The main challenge for Singapore includes the tropical environment where we have rain showers and humidity, which reduces the solar electricity generation timeframe to about 3.2 hours per day. The other challenge is with high rise buildings; to plan it properly to avoid any shading especially in the afternoon hours where the potential to harvest solar electricity is the highest towards the West-facing areas.

“Nonetheless, 50 MWp is a very significant deployment at one go and it’s something that will continue to signal Singapore’s commitment towards hitting our 1 Gigawatt target or even beyond.”

As of October this year, 966 HDB blocks have been installed with solar photovoltaic panels, said HDB in a media factsheet. The solar energy produced is used to "fully power common services" in the HDB estates during the day, including powering lifts and water pumps, said HDB.

Additional reporting by Brandon Tanoto

848 more HDB blocks to be installed with solar panels
AMANDA LEE Today Online 1 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE – Around 850 additional Housing Development Board (HDB) blocks and 27 government sites will be equipped with solar panels by mid-2020.

The HDB and the Singapore Economic Board (EDB) launched its third bulk tender for solar panels on Wednesday (Nov 1). It is the largest tender under the SolarNova programme, which aims to spur growth of Singapore’s solar industry by encouraging government agencies to use solar power.

As of Oct 2017, 966 HDB blocks have been installed with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, contributing almost 45 per cent of Singapore’s total solar installations, and cover an area of about 35,000 square metres or the size of about four football fields.

Solar energy is used to power common services such as powering the flat’s lift and water pumps within the HDB estates during the day. On average, all 966 HDB flats are able to achieve net-zero energy consumption with excess solar energy channelled back to Singapore’s electrical grid.

Commenting on the tender, HDB’s chief executive officer Dr Cheong Koon Hean “HDB’s efforts in building solar capabilities have made steady progress”. He added: “Today, HDB is the largest stakeholder in solar PV installation, having committed to fulfil over 60 percent of the 350 MWp of solar capacity that Singapore has planned to achieve by 2020”.

The first of such tender was put up in June 2015 which included 900 HDB blocks as well as installations at eight MHA and Public Utilities Board (PUB) sites. While the second tender was called in October last year which included 636 HDB blocks and 31 government sites.

Several government agencies such as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Education and National Environment Agency, which participated in earlier tenders, have already been using solar power.

Under this latest tender, another four government agencies will be joining the SolarNova programme. They are: the Building & Construction Authority, Institute of Technical Education, National Heritage Board and Sport Singapore.

The tender also requires PV systems of 50 megawatt-peak (MWp) to be installed. This is a 25 per cent increase from the last two SolarNova tenders, which involved the installation of 40 MWp of solar PV systems each. The tenderers are also required to optimise the roof space for solar panel installation.

The tender closes on Jan 31 2018, and is expected to be awarded in the second quarter of 2018. The installation of solar PV systems is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2020, which is also when solar power is expected to contribute 350MWp to the Republic’s energy supply.

Including this third SolarNova tender, HDB has committed a solar capacity of 190 MWp out of the 220 MWp target for 3,350 HDB blocks, and is on track to deploy solar panels on 5,500 HDB blocks by 2020. According to HDB and EDB, with solar PV capacity of 220MWp, 265GWh of clean energy can be generated annually – this is equivalent to powering about 55,000 4-room flats, with carbon emissions reduced by 132,500 tonnes each year.

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The future for Singapore’s energy burns bright

KPMG examines the shifts in the energy landscape and the efforts by Singapore to address its growing energy needs.
Irving Low and Tim Rockell Channel NewsAsia 2 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: According to a study by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, solar energy could possibly meet as much as a quarter of Singapore’s energy needs in 2025, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) last week.

However, to reach this figure, solar energy generation would have to double every two years, from generating 140 MWp today to 2 GWp in 2025.

This is possible only if Singapore deploys solar generation technologies more innovatively and efficiently, and overcomes the challenges of limited land and solar intermittency. It also shows how much Singapore’s energy landscape could shift to meet the country’s growing energy needs.

Indeed, the global energy landscape has seen several significant shifts in the past decade, driven by technological advances and geopolitical shifts. Improvements in fracking technology have heralded a boom in unconventional oil and gas production in North America, which has changed the dynamics of the global markets.

Advances in renewable technologies and energy storage have made it more economical for countries to reduce their carbon footprint, even as the Paris Climate Change Agreement provide greater impetus to do so.

These changes present opportunities for policymakers and companies to chart out a pathway for energy that is not only competitive, secure, and sustainable, but can also turn shortcomings into advantages.

This is especially important for Asia where half a billion people still lack access to modern energy services, and where the transition to clean energy will be essential for sustained growth in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.


Singapore is an example of a country that has sought to capitalise on these trends. Since it has no natural resources of its own, Singapore is almost completely reliant on energy import.

Relying on natural gas for 95 per cent of its electricity needs, Singapore previously imported all of its natural gas from Malaysia and Indonesia through pipelines.

However, Singapore is now able to import gas globally through a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal constructed in 2013. This has allowed Singapore to benefit from changes in the global gas market, such as the availability of LNG from the US and Australia.

Singapore has also sought to leverage its geographical location to position itself as a regional gas hub that handles LNG trading, bunkering, and small-scale LNG solutions for the region.

Supporting the sector, firms providing technical, legal, financial and consultancy services have also grown, creating a local talent pool in constant demand in the Asia-Pacific region.


Singapore has also sought to improve its energy security and competitiveness by taking advantage of its tropical climate and capitalising on advancements in solar photovoltaic technologies.

The Government is aggregating demand for solar across the public sector to spur demand in the private sector, and has launched the world’s largest floating solar photovoltaic testbed at Tengeh reservoir.

Singapore has also been working to develop expertise in distributed energy grids, which will be able to better incorporate such renewable energy sources while still ensuring that the electricity grid remains stable.

Solar energy may meet as much as a quarter of Singapore’s energy needs in 2025, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the Singapore International Energy Week.


In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, energy companies in Singapore are now aiming for performance improvement through increasing intelligent remote sensors, demand prediction through data analytics and getting closer to end users and customers through value-added applications.

These initiatives are part of Singapore’s wider effort to invest in and harness technology and innovations to meet our energy challenges and sustainable development objectives.

Under the national Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, S$375 million has been set aside for key research, development and deployment initiatives in the energy space, focusing on areas such as solar, energy storage, smart grids, and green buildings.

Singapore has also been active in using market mechanisms to spur competition, innovation, and efficiency.

Since the 1990s, Singapore has gradually liberalised the gas and electricity market by separating segments of natural monopoly, in transmission and distribution for instance, from contestable segments, in generation and retail for instance.

Competition in the liberalised power generation sector has encouraged companies to switch from steam plants powered with fuel oil to more efficient combined cycle gas turbines fuelled by natural gas.

The progressively liberalised retail electricity market has seen more independent electricity retailers offering innovative price plans to cater to consumers’ needs and preferences.

Today, larger consumers who account for about 80 per cent of consumption can choose their electricity retailer.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore has recently announced that from the second half of 2018, all remaining 1.4 million accounts, mainly households, can choose their electricity retailer and enjoy choice, flexibility, as well as more innovative plans, to better suit their different needs.

The key to improving security, competitiveness and sustainability at the same time is to improve energy efficiency. Singapore has thus pursued the improvement of energy efficiency on multiple fronts, including in industry, power generation, buildings and households.

For example, EMA’s Project OptiWatt pilot allows users to better understand their electricity use so that they can shift electricity demand away from its peak periods.

Arising from the project, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research has shifted about 0.3 to 0.4 MW of their electricity load by adjusting the timing of its washers and sterilisers to operate outside the system peak period, and without affecting its operations.

In line with its pledge under the Paris Agreement, Singapore consulted with the industry and announced that it will introduce a carbon tax from 2019 to better reflect the cost of using fossil fuels on the environment.

The carbon tax will provide the price signal for businesses and consumers to reduce emissions. For example, pricing in carbon will shape companies’ decisions to invest in more energy-efficient equipment and technologies at the onset.


Ultimately, the global nature of energy issues means that Singapore must remain plugged into global energy discussions and work with partners around the world.

Standing at the crossroads of Asia and the world, Singapore is well placed to work with countries and companies from the world to contribute towards a more sustainable energy future.

Singapore joined the International Energy Agency (IEA) as an association country last year and will assume the chairmanship for the ASEAN energy track in 2018, where it will continue to play an active role in driving greater energy cooperation and capacity-building initiatives in the region.

During SIEW last week, EMA and the IEA co-organised a forum on energy financing in Asia’s clean energy sector. The forum saw robust discussions among regional energy stakeholders on issues such as digitalisation, energy R&D, and grid transformations.

While energy investments are key to meeting ASEAN’s growing energy needs, ensuring environmental sustainability through cleaner forms of energy remains a priority. As a global financial centre, Singapore can help link ASEAN, its Dialogue Partners, and other stakeholders to facilitate energy investments in the region, while encouraging greater adoption of clean energy.

Singapore’s small size and lack of resources have provided it with the impetus to find innovative and practical solutions to improve the security, competitiveness, and sustainability of its energy supply. It has also learnt from others and adapted best practices for its own circumstances.

In turn, Singapore can serve as an example to other cities and countries on how they can address their own energy challenges.

Irving Low is partner and head of Risk Consulting and Markets at KPMG. Tim Rockell is director of the Global Energy Institute at KPMG Singapore.

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Malaysia: Factory, farm shut down over ammonia in Sungai Johor

NATION The Star 2 Nov 17;

KOTA ISKANDAR: A poultry farm and a chicken manure processing factory in Layang-Layang have been ordered to stop operating after high ammonia content in Sungai Johor caused a shutdown of water supply to some 1.8 million consumers last week.

The factory was also responsible for the high ammonia found in the same river in December last year and in August.

State Works, Rural and Regional Development committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said in the latest incident, authorities had to shut down operations at three water treatment plants – Semanggar, Sungai Johor and PUB Tai Hong, which processed raw water from Sg Johor.

Hasni said both the farm and the factory were believed to be owned by the same person, who had requested for a change in land status. Following the latest incident, that application has been cancelled.

Johor Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Entrepreneurial and Cooperative Development committee chairman Ismail Mohamed said the farm had been operating for over 20 years.

“I have visited the farm and it is able to produce over 40 tonnes of chicken manure daily,” he said, adding both the farm and the factory were located about 900m from each other.

Enough is enough, Johor orders poultry farm and a fertiliser processing plant to shutdown
Halim Said New Straits Times 1 Nov 17;

KOTA ISKANDAR: The state government has ordered the closure of both the poultry farm and a fertiliser processing plant which caused a major ammonia contamination in Sungai Johor recently.

It is also contemplating taking further legal action, under the state's Water Supply Enactment 2014, which could result in the owner being issued with a compound of up to RM250,000 or being summoned for up to RM500,000, depending on the severity of the offences.

State Public Works and Rural and Regional Development Executive Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammed said the decision to close both premises comes after the failure of the owner to take preventive measures.

This is in regards to stopping further contamination from the fertiliser processing facility despite having been issued with three notices from the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) to do so since Dec last year.

According to Hasni, the poultry farm operator was identified as Lew Peng Enterprise while and the fertiliser plant is managed by United Propel Sdn Bhd, both of which are under the same ownership.

They were found to have committed the offences once in Dec 2016 and twice in 2017, which was in August and October this year.

"This is the third incident involving the same poultry farm owner and the state government can no longer tolerate this as we have given the owner ample time to rectify their operations," he said.

He said the poultry farm was found to be producing 40 tonne of chicken manure daily and their waste management system could not cope with the volume as one of the machines had broken down for the past one month.

"We also have rejected the company's application to change the status of the land, which is currently meant for rubber plantation, to industrial land to enable them to run the fertiliser processing plant as the operation had clearly caused severe damaged to the environment," said Hasni.

He said the state government is taking this action as a serious step to prevent future river contamination incident from ever recurring in state's rivers.

Last week, ammonia contamination in Sungai Johor caused SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd to temporarily shut down the operation of three water treatment plants, the Sungai Johor, Semangar and Tai Hong plants.

The temporary shutdown affected the water supply to 360,000 account holders, comprising about 1.8 million consumers, in Johor Baru, Kulai, Iskandar Puteri and Kota Tinggi.

Following the incident, the Lingiu Dam, located downstream, released 900 million litres of water into Sungai Johor to flush the ammonia contamination.

"We are also in the midst of identifying poultry farms operating along rivers or raw water sources, mostly in Muar, Tangkak and Pontian, for possible relocation to proper areas," said Hasni.

He said farms which do not pose any environmental threats despite operating near river will be allowed to continue with their operations but farms which flouted the regulation will be relocated.

The state government had also come to a decision not to renew any licenses of poultry farm owners who fail to comply to the environmental regulations as directed by the DVS.

"We will also not allow activities such as sand dredging along the rivers and tributaries to be carried out if they are found to cause damages to the rivers," said Hasni.

However, he said sand dredging activity which do not cause damage or affect the river condition and the surrounding environment will be allowed to continue with strict monitoring.

"Any activities which affect the quality of the raw water from the river will no longer be compromised as severe action will be taken on a case by case basis," he said.

Johor Veterinary Dept told to inspect all livestock farms near rivers
Halim Said New Straits Times 31 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: The state Veterinary Services Department has been instructed to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure adherence to environmental regulations.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the move was necessary to prevent further contamination that could threaten the eco-system of rivers in the state.

He said the latest case of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor on Friday, which led to the shut down of three water treatment plants and caused water disruptions affecting 1.8 million users, should serve as a lesson to all enforcement agencies to be more vigilant.

The ammonia pollution was traced to a poultry farm, which opened up a second plot of land to illegally process fertiliser from chicken manure in Kampung Murni Jaya in Layang-layang.

"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor," he told the New Straits Times.

Ayub said there was also a need to check and revise the list of all livestock farms near Sungai Johor and other rivers in the state.

"I will table this proposal with representatives from the State Veterinary Services Department, Land and Mines Office, District Offices, state Department of Environment and Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to re-affirm our commitment to protect the state's rivers, which also function as water catchment areas," he said.

He said measures must be taken to ensure that farms operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.

Johor Veterinary Services Department director Dr Aida Muhid said the state has over 778 livestock farms which are licenced, which come under the Grades A to C categories under the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices.

Another 21 livestock farms are in the Grades D and E categories.

On the state government's request to check on all livestock farms located near rivers, Dr Aida said that she will cross-reference the department's list of existing farms with that of the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) and DID.

She said the department database did not specify if the farms were located close to any river or body of water.

She said the guidelines for livestock farm operations, which is contained in a state enactment that is enforced by the Veterinary Services Department was only introduced in 1997.

"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply the convential farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.

Dr Aida said that when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997, which is enforced at the state-level.

"A stopwork order can be up to three months as the poultry farm needs to ensure all provisions of the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices is observed accordingly.

"They must observe all those requirements before they resume operations, or else they will be asked to shut down," she said.

Citing the example of a poultry farm, it must operate 500m away from residential homes. Farms that were opened before 1997 must make sure that their premises are 200m away from residential homes.

"This is to prevent inconveniences to residents due to smell coming from the farm or any other issues such as noise and health wise problems," she said.

During NST's visit to the farm, a villager said that the houses closest to the farm were located about 200m away.

Dr Aida said other than this, the provision also include no open rearing and must be carried out indoor.

"The indoor facility must be equipped with bio-security measures such as proper ventilations and farm animal waste control to ensure there is no biological threats to the environment," she said.

Checks by NST revealed that the poultry farm has also been causing hardship to nearby villagers.

Kampung Murni Jaya village head Mohd Azam Saadon said residents such as himself put up with stench, and they have seen how heavy rain caused flooding at the fertiliser plant.

"The most recent flood a few months ago caused a ledge to collapse in front of the stockpile ponds, which contained chicken manure.

"The collapse ledge at the plant's perimeter fencing, caused the chicken faeces inside the stockpile ponds to spill over to a canal which flows into nearby Sungai Sayong," he said. The farm has stopped operating since the Friday.

Malaysia shuts down chicken farm and fertiliser factory that polluted Johor River
Sumisha Naidu Channel NewsAsia 1 Nov 17;

JOHOR BARU: The Johor government has shut down a chicken farm and fertiliser factory that caused pollution in the Johor River thrice since December 2016, forcing water treatment plants to shut down two of those times.

It said these were the only incidents where chicken manure fertiliser caused ammonia pollution in the river to this degree due to the sheer volume of product being processed.

Three water treatment plants, including PUB's Johor River Waterworks, were closed over the weekend due to the ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

The state says the 20-year-old farm and factory ignored prior warnings, leading to 360,000 account holders in Malaysia being affected as plants waited until ammonia levels were back to normal before starting up again.

Singapore's PUB said water supply in Singapore was not affected as the shortfall from the Johor waterworks was topped up from other sources, including desalination.


Water supply has since been restored for all the affected water treatment plants, including the Johor River Waterworks, which, according to the state government, was the least affected given its distance from the source of contamination.

"The water treatment plant for PUB is located at the furthest south end of Sungai Johor (Johor River), and Linggiu Dam, as the balancing dam, discharged 900 million litres for two days into Sungai Johor to dilute the level of contamination," said Johor executive councillor Hasni Mohammad at a news conference on Wednesday (Nov 1).

"(The Singapore plant) is located further downstream and is safer than the (Malaysian) plants."

Even though supply has been restored, the state says it is monitoring three other chicken farms located around the Johor River.

"I suppose with this incident authorities will have to look at their SOP and make good if there are any incidents here and there but the intention is to make sure incidents like this don't happen," said Mr Hasni.

To that end, Johor says it will no longer grant permits to companies to mine sand near water treatment plants, as this could cause a build-up of silt and muddy discharge, leading to polluted rivers.

It has also asked the state's water regulatory body to survey main areas around the Johor River and take strict action against any offenders.

Johor decides to shut down poultry farm that polluted river
Straits Times 1 Nov 17;

KOTA ISKANDAR - The government of Johor state in Malaysia decided on Wednesday (Nov 1) to shut down the fertiliser factory and poultry farm allegedly responsible for ammonia pollution in the Johor River last Friday.

According to national news agency Bernama, the Johor Public Works and Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the decision was made at the weekly meeting of the state executive council.

He said the state government was deeply concerned by the pollution issue, even though the factory operator had recently applied to change the conditions for which the land can been used.

He also said that the meeting decided to use the Water Supply Enactment 2014 to take legal action against the factory operator by imposing a fine.

"We will refer to the state legal officer to determine the quantum of the fine or summons," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Last Friday, ammonia pollution in the Johor River forced three water treatment plants to shut down, leaving almost two million people in the Johor Bahru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi districts without piped water supply for a day.

Johor has also instructed its veterinary services department to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure they adhere to environmental regulations.

"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor (Johor river)," said State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat on Wednesday, according to the New Strait Times.

He said measures must be taken to ensure that farm operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.

According to Johor veterinary services department director Dr Aida Muhid, there are nearly 800 licensed livestock farms in the state .

"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply ... farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.

She said when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997.

Johor orders inspection of all livestock farms to prevent contamination of rivers
Straits Times 1 Nov 17;

JOHOR BARU - Johor state has instructed the Veterinary Services Department to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure they adhere to environmental regulations.

This is to prevent further contamination that could threaten the eco-system of rivers in the state, the New Straits Times (NST) reported on Wednesday (Nov 1).

The report quoted State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee Chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat as saying the latest case of ammonia pollution in Johor River last Friday should be a lesson to all enforcement agencies that they must be more vigilant.

The pollution led to the shut down of three water treatment plants and disrupted water supply to 1.8 million users.

The pollution was traced to a poultry farm in nearby Kampung Murni Jaya, which illegally process fertiliser from chicken manure.

"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor (River Johor)," the NST quoted Ayub as saying.

He said measures must be taken to ensure that farm operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.

Johor Veterinary Services Department Director Dr Aida Muhid said the state has over 778 livestock farms which are licenced and come under the Grades A to C categories under the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices, according to the report. Another 21 livestock farms are in the Grades D and E categories.

"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply ...farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.

She said when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997.

"A stopwork order can be up to three months as the poultry farm needs to ensure all provisions of the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices is observed accordigly.

"They must observe all those requirements before they resume operations, or else they will be asked to shut down," she added.

One requirement, for example, requires a poultry farm to operate 500m away from residential homes, according to NST. Farms that were opened before 1997 must make sure that their premises are 200m away from residential homes.

"This is to prevent...smell coming from the farm or any other issues such as noise and health wise problems," Dr Aida was quoted as saying.

Another requirement states that rearing must be done indoor.

"The indoor facility must be equipped with bio-security measures such as proper ventilations and farm animal waste control to ensure there is no biological threats to the environment," she said.

An NST team visited the farm in Kampung Murni Jaya and found that it had affected villagers nearby.

Village head Mohd Azam Saadon said residents such as himself put up with the stench, and they have seen how heavy rain caused flooding at the fertiliser plant.

"The most recent flood a few months ago caused a ledge to collapse in front of the stockpile ponds, which contained chicken manure,'' he said, adding that the chicken faeces spill over to a canal which flows into nearby Sungai Sayong.

Malaysian authorities push for legislation change after Johor River pollution
Sumisha Naidu Channel NewsAsia 2 Nov 17;

JOHOR: Federal and state authorities in Malaysia told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Nov 2) they would like to fast track legislation to de-conflict jurisdiction when it comes to tackling water pollution.

This comes after a chicken farm and its fertiliser factory disrupted water supply to an estimated 1.8 million people in Johor for the second time in less than a year.

Three water treatment plants near the Johor River, including PUB's Johor River Waterworks, were forced to shut down last weekend due to high ammonia levels caused by improperly stored chicken manure fertiliser which was being produced at a rate of 40 tonnes a day, according to officials.

Authorities at both the state and federal levels said they had issued several warnings before the state government announced the closure on Wednesday.

According to Dr Zaki Zainuddin, a quality and modelling specialist, the delay in firm action by the government was due to an overlap in jurisdiction and a "disconnect" in pollution management across Malaysia.

The problem of issuing permits for manure processing facilities is one example.

Johor's Veterinary Services Department director Dr Aida Muhid told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that while the chicken farm that was forced to shut had a permit to operate, the fertiliser factory had not been issued one.

Dr Aida said that it was not clear whether the authority to issue the permit to the factory belonged to the Veterinary Department or the Agriculture Department.

"It's quite difficult to differentiate that because it's considered quite a grey area ... That has not been resolved yet," she told Channel NewsAsia.

Dr Aida intends to resolve this by fast tracking planned legislation so that the licensing of manure processing plants will fall under her department within six months.


Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told Channel NewsAsia he was "three-quarters" done with legislation that would authorise his ministry to shut down polluters without going through multiple state departments.

"Most things like rivers, water, land resources all belong to the state under the constitution," he said.

"We are not taking over their authority but it's just having a law so we don't have to tell them, 'please go and take action against this'. The idea is that we don't have to ask permission from people - we'll do it ourselves," he said.

"We should have the laws, we should have a way to impose penalties, we should have the authority to close all the factories in the illegal areas, in the places where they have no permission (to operate) from the state authorities," he added.

Mr Wan Junaidi had said in a statement earlier this week that the Department of Environment, which falls under his ministry, had directed the illegal chicken farm to relocate its operation away from the river in July last year due to water pollution - but this was ignored. Under current laws, the department said it did not have the power to take further action.

Dr Zaki, who is a consultant for the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, said the federal ministry does not have the scope at the moment to deal with pollution from fertiliser factories.

"The overarching legislation when it comes to pollution control is the Environmental Quality Act which the Department of Environment enforces," he told Channel NewsAsia.

"But pollution sources governed by the act is in the range of 25 to 30 per cent only. So you have these other sources which are not regulated under that act, sources like poultry farms, chicken farms. .. It's a tricky issue."

Dr Zaki added that one way to deal with this is for states to adapt their own legislation to expand the scope of environmental officials - something that has already been done in states like Selangor.

In the case of Johor, Dr Aida says her department will be playing closer attention to chicken farms during the annual inspections later this year and new standard operating procedures are being rolled out.

Her officials will also aim to map out the locations of the 778 poultry farms across the state by next year to identify which ones are close to water sources and need to be monitored more closely.

Johor should seek views of relevant people to curb river pollution
Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 3 Nov 17;

JOHOR BARU: Johor government has been urged to engage with all stakeholders including villagers, Orang Asli, and non governmental organisations (NGOs) to prevent a recurrence of pollution in Sungai Johor and other rivers.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-chairman Vincent Chow said a proper plan was needed to curb pollution at water intake points.

He said this could start with better engagement with the people who had a first-hand experience of pollution.

"When it comes to major issues affecting the environment, the state government should call for a meeting with stakeholders on a regular basis.

"Stakeholders such as villagers, Orang Asli, village headmen and NGOs should be involved. NGOs that deal with environmental issues will be more familiar with what's happening on the ground," he told the New Straits Times.

Chow said eye-witnesses’ accounts of river pollution were crucial to help authorities take suitable action against polluters.

He urged the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to expedite plans to formulate regulations for fertiliser farms, as it was a fertiliser farm that caused the ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor last week.

Excessive levels of ammonia in Sungai Johor on Oct 27, prompted SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd to temporarily shut down the operations of its plants at Sungai Johor, Semangar and Tai Hong.

This disrupted water supply to 360,000 households involving 1.8 million consumers in Kulai, Iskandar Puteri, Kota Tinggi and here.

The pollution was traced to an illegal fertiliser processing plant near Layang Layang in Kulai, which was subsequently ordered to be shut down by the state government.

Johor government has also ordered the shut down of the nearby poultry farm, which were run by the same owner.

The same farm had also caused ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor in December last year and in August this year.

Meanwhile, state Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat denied that the state authorities did not engage with stakeholders on the issue of river pollution.

"There have been meetings involving the state government, agencies and related stakeholders conducted under my portfolio.”

Ayub said regulations regarding pollution at water intake points came under the Johor Water Regulatory Body.

He said the status of land also lay under the District Land Administrative Office.

"Even if there is no law against fertiliser farms, there are other related laws," said Ayub.

Read more!

Malaysia: On the trail of Sabah’s elusive clouded leopards

The Star 1 Nov 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A wild Sunda clouded leopard trapped and fitted with a satellite collar by conservationists in Sabah’s east coast Kinabatangan will provide vital data to the elusive big cat in the area.

The male leopard weighing 24.75kg was captured in one of the purpose-built traps placed along the Kinabatangan River on Saturday.

It was collared as part of an intensive satellite-collaring programme to study the animal in the fragile Kinabatangan landscape.

The project by the Sabah Wildlife Dep­artment (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) focuses on research and conservation of the leopard.

“We are planning to collar more along the Kinabatangan,” said Evans, adding that they named the latest catch Cakar (Claws).

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the data produced by the first four cats collared between Sep­tember 2013 and September 2014 had provided considerable insight into the elusive carnivore’s ecology.

“In June, SWD and DGFC held an international workshop on the Sunda clouded leopard conservation and a Clouded Leopard Action Plan is now being drafted,” he said.

The information provided by Cakar will be vital for the management of the population in the fragile Kinabatangan flood plain.

“The species is facing threats from hunting, pet trade and habitat loss,” Dr Goossens said.

The project is mainly financed by Sime Darby Foundation, with additional funding and support from Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Rufford Foundation and The Clouded Leopard Project.

Read more!

Malaysia: Government seeks to end wildlife trade

martin carvalho, hemananthani sivanandam, loshana k. shagar, and rahmah ghazali The Star 1 Nov 17;

ILLEGAL wildlife traders may see their assets seized under a proposed amendment to the wildlife laws.

The move follows efforts to plug the loophole against online illegal wildlife trade while increasing punishment against offenders.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said amendments were critical to better protect the country’s endangered wildlife.

“At present, the Wildlife Preservation Act does not cover online wildlife trade.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and ministry officials were working closely with the Attorney-General to address this loophole.

He said amendments to the Act would also look at increasing penalties for illegal wildlife trade.

“This includes seizing assets of illegal wildlife traders which are obtained from proceeds of their trade,” he said.

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, Dr Wan Junaidi told lawmakers that enforcement officers seized 262 wildlife species, totalling 11,764 animals, last year.

As of May this year, 16 wildlife species involving 797 animals were seized.

Between 2013 and May this year, Perhilitan had carried out 1,090 operations against illegal wildlife trade.

On a separate matter, Dr Wan Junaidi said it was up to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to investigate a project site said to be behind Monday’s flash floods along the Federal Highway.

He said preliminary investigations showed the lack of water retention ponds and debris traps at the site.

“I want to stress that the city’s drainage and culverts are capable of handling rainwater flow.

“The clogging of the drainage system has resulted in floodwaters unable to flow to the nearby Klang River, causing it to spill on to the highway,” he said, adding that the river could still handle 1.5m of water.

Dr Wan Junaidi said they were still checking if the project developer was required to build retention ponds and debris traps under the ministry’s environmental guidelines.

“They are subjected to the guidelines if the project was given approval after August 2015,” he said, adding that DBKL has its own conditions and it was up to the authority to carry out an inspection.

During the incident, muddy floodwaters inundated a 1km stretch of the highway just outside the Bangsar South City development site, heading from Mid Valley City towards the Sprint Highway Kerinchi exit.

The flash floods caused a massive crawl along the highway.

Read more!

Indonesia: Accurate maps crucial for peatland management

Antara 2 Nov 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Highly accurate maps on peatlands are crucial to serve as a reference for stakeholders engaged in the decision-making process for the management of peatland areas, according to Dr Kartini Sjahrir of the Dr Sjahrir Foundation.

"Hence, today, we discuss it together to support the efforts to restore and conserve peatlands. Based on the results of this discussion, we could conclude that a scientific solution is crucial for undertaking conservation and restoration efforts," she noted here, Wednesday.

Kazuyo Hirose of the Japan Space System remarked that during the period between 1970 and 2011, several local- and national-scale maps of peatland areas were prepared, among other things, by the Agriculture Ministry, Public Works Ministry, universities, and other institutions.

However, there were disparities in areas ranging from 13.5 million hectares to 26.5 million hectares, he added.

The World Resources Institute has opined that all peatland maps existing in Indonesia are on a small scale; hence, it could not respond optimally to peatland management and restoration efforts on a large scale.

Budi Satyawan Wardjama, deputy I in charge of planning and cooperation of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), said there are 14 maps, with each one being different. The latest version was published in 2011, and the maps were never updated so far.

Moreover, the BRG is utilizing a technology called Light Detection Ranging that creates maps, with a scale of up to 1:2,500 and equipped with 3D features.

The government has highlighted the importance of having more accurate maps; hence, in 2016, President Joko Widodo had issued Presidential regulation No 9 of 2016 on accelerating the implementation of a one-map policy, with a map accuracy rate of 1:50,000 scale.

The one-map policy is expected to be materialized in 2019, with the aim of avoiding overlapping land use.

Reported by Virna P Setyorini

Read more!

International body adopts Philippine declaration on wildlife protection

Elizabeth Marcelo Philippine Star 1 Nov 17;

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations-backed Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has adopted a resolution drafted by the Philippines, which recognizes the role of migratory wildlife in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 set by the UN.

The resolution, dubbed as the “Manila Declaration,” calls on the 124 countries, which are signatories to the CMS, to development frameworks and implement relevant plans that would harmonize the CMS' goals on wildlife protection with the 17 SDGs identified by the UN in 2015.

Drafted by the Philippine delegation led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Manila Declaration acknowledges the significant contribution of migratory wildlife to sustainable development, especially in the areas of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, energy, transport and trade.

As such, the resolution also calls on the private sector to engage in dialogue to align their company policies with the objectives of the CMS and to promote active participation of indigenous and local communities in the sustainable management of resources.

The resolution will be submitted to the UN General Assembly, UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and the Third Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly.

“This serves as an important milestone in our common struggle to safeguard migratory species and their habitats as we seek to pursue sustainable development,” DENR undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr. said.

“The Manila Declaration should spur decision and actions that would cascade benefits that deliver the security of migratory species, and therefore, our future,” he added.

The declaration was adopted by the Conference of Parties (COP) to the CMS on Sunday, the last day of its week-long 12th Convention held in Manila from October 23 to 28.

Under the resolution, the CMS Secretariat based in Bonn, Germany, is tasked to collect relevant data and information and to compile a report detailing the link between migratory species and sustainable development.

The CMS, is the only global treaty under the UN Environment Program exclusively established for the “conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.”

The COP, its main decision-making body, meets every three years to adopt policies and laws and propose new species under the CMS framework. India is set to host the next conference in 2020.

In one of the panel discussions during the week-long COP convention, DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau director Theresa Mundita Lim stressed the link between wildlife conservation and sustainable development. She said that a healthy population of migratory species can contribute to food sufficiency, pollination, pest control, as well as potential medicinal source, among others. She said migratory species can also boost eco-tourism.

In a convention held in New York City in September 2015, the 193 UN-member states including the Philippines, adopted the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development, which primarily seeks to eradicate poverty “in all its forms and dimensions.” The Agenda also recognizes the need for to integrate and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

Among the 17 SDGs listed in the Agenda were to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; and protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Read more!

Fossil fuel companies undermining Paris agreement negotiations – report

Exclusive: report says outcomes of climate negotiations have been skewed to favour biggest corporate polluters
Michael Slezak The Guardian 1 Nov 17;

Global negotiations seeking to implement the Paris agreement have been captured by corporate interests and are being undermined by powerful forces that benefit from exacerbating climate change, according to a report released ahead of the second meeting of parties to the Paris agreement – COP23 – next week.

The report, co-authored by Corporate Accountability, uncovers a litany of ways in which fossil fuel companies have gained high-level access to negotiations and manipulated outcomes.

It highlights a string of examples, including that of a negotiator for Panama who is also on the board of a corporate peak body that represents carbon traders such as banks, polluters and brokers.

It also questions the role of the world’s biggest polluters in sponsoring the meetings in return for access to high-level events.

The report argues that as a result of the corporate influence, outcomes of negotiations so far have been skewed to favour the interests of the world’s biggest corporate polluters over those of the majority of the world’s population that live in the developing world. It finds that influence has skewed outcomes on finance, agriculture and technology.

It comes as the 2018 deadline approaches for member countries to finalise the rule book that guides the implementation of the Paris Agreement. That rule book will determine things such as how compliance will be monitored and enforced and how the developing world will receive finance and support.

“We’ve been at many crossroads on climate change but this is perhaps one of the last of those that we have left,” said Jesse Bragg from Corporate Accountability. “If parties don’t arrive at a set of guidelines that actually facilitates the transition we’ve been talking about and keeps us under 1.5C, we may never have another shot at this.”

“We’re doing this wrong right now. We have the wrong people at the table and we’re looking to the wrong people for advice. If we don’t course-correct at COP 23 and the next inter-sessional in Bonn, we’re in real trouble. And you can look at what’s happened so far to see the evidence of that.”

Examples of the infiltration of polluters into the official negotiations include:

The UNFCCC’s Climate Technology Network, which advises on how to develop and transfer green technology to the developing world, includes a member of the World Coal Association, and its board has included managers at Shell and EDF – one of the world’s biggest electricity producers.
A negotiator for Panama is currently a board member of the International Emissions Trading Association (Ieta), and was previously its president for several years. Ieta was set up by the fossil fuel companies including BP and Rio Tinto in order to make sure climate action caused “minimal economic harm”. Today its members include Chevron, BHP, Dow, Duke Energy, Repsol, Xcel Energy, Veolia and Statoil.
Sponsorship of the COP21 meeting in Paris gave fossil fuel companies access to the “communications and networking area” inside the rooms where the negotiations were taking place.

Big agricultural corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Yara have been lobbying heavily at UNFCCC meetings, with Monsanto even co-charing the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s Climate-Smart Agriculture working group.

The report argues this access has influenced outcomes at the UNFCCC, undermining the Paris agreement in the following ways:

Market-based solutions to climate change have become dogma at UNFCCC meetings, despite many developing world countries urging alternative mechanisms such as direct regulation, and despite studies suggesting they can allow big polluters to continue polluting, according to Corporate Accountability.

The US and Canada have adopted agricultural corporations’ approach to “climate-smart agriculture”, and argued against regulation of non-CO2 emissions from agriculture.

Most of the funds from the Green Climate Fund have so far been allocated to private sector projects.
The report argues that if the UNFCCC process results in a rulebook being developed in line with what the world’s biggest polluters want, then the Paris agreement is doomed to failure.

“If those rules are written in a way to give weight to the provisions that industry is in favour of, and ignores those things that the industry is against, then you’re almost renegotiating the Paris agreement,” Bragg said. “What you’re doing is cherry-picking out of the Paris agreement the things that they want, and leaving behind the things that the global south [developing] countries need.

“It’s where you lose any nod to incorporate non-market mechanisms into article 6. It’s where ‘climate smart agriculture’ becomes the only focus of agricultural negotiations, and so big ag is dominating negotiations there and petrochemicals are the solution. And the fossil fuel industry dominates the conversation around technology so we’re just hoping for a successful large-scale carbon capture and storage to get us out of this mess. It’s those things that are at risk in the rulebook negotiations.”

Momentum has been building over the past couple of years to have an official conflict-of-interest policy agreed on at the UNFCCC.

In Marrakech in 2016 moves instigated by a group representing the majority of the world’s population – the Like Minded Group of Developing Countries – were thwarted by the US, EU and Australia.

Australia’s delegation has argued that “there is no clear understanding of what a conflict of interest is and it means different things to different people” and that fossil fuel companies were “the providers of the biggest and best solutions”.

But in May this year in Bonn, the group succeeded in getting the UNFCCC to agree to improve “transparency”, and discussions will continue in May 2018.

The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control successfully implemented a conflict of interest policy that has widely been acknowledged as a key ingredient in its success.

Corporate Accountability says a similar policy is needed for the UNFCCC.

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