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Singapore Mindset Towards Sustainability by Tanisha Chandrasekaran (Issue #4)

The United Nations had established the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. They act as “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030” (United Nations). Ever since, countries around the world have been striving to achieve these goals. Singapore is not left behind.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong states that “Sustainable development has been integral to the Singapore Story. We are still a young nation, but we have made much progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the six SDGs” (UN). Singapore has approached these SDGs in multiple ways. While striving for economic development, they take care to not harm the environment, building a Garden City to make life more pleasant for people to live, work, and play in. Singapore has also made significant progress with regard to energy. Today, Singapore is widely recognized as a City in a Garden, with nearly 50% green cover and 72 hectares of rooftop gardens and green walls. Singapore is among the 20 most carbon-efficient countries; natural gas generates 95% of our electricity (UN).

In general, Singapore mainly follows the Whole-of-Government (WOG) Approach. This approach consists of sharing information with the public agencies, which in turn allows them to uncover emergent challenges and opportunities early. Inter-Ministry Committee on SDGs (IMC-SDG)’s has been established to ensure that the advancements Singapore makes are in line with the SDGs.

One of the many ways of reducing environmental impact is buying and selling second-hand items. Singaporeans have used online platforms that enable such an economy, such as Carousell. Fashion rental subscription services are also quite popular, such as Style Theory. These businesses have managed to capture a substantial following that includes many users who may not consider sustainability one of their key concerns.

The government is doing their best to drive Singapore towards a more sustainable future. However, while most of the public seems to be aware of the concept of sustainability and consequences of an unsustainable environment such as climate change, many are not taking initiatives and working towards that goal.

A member of the Nature Society Singapore, Ms. Tan Beng Chiak, observes how Singaporeans are still self-centered, despite knowing the consequences of not taking any action. She says “Even though they know it is a concern, they will still prioritise their own needs, such as turning the air-conditioning on or running the tap” (Oh). Though the government taking a lead on the situation will help the country, it is only a combination of political, industrial, and public awareness to truly make a difference.

In fact, a National Climate Change Secretariat’s Climate Change Public Perception Survey in 2016 indicated that despite nine out of 10 Singaporean citizens are aware of climate change, over a third of respondents believed that their individual actions would not make a difference to climate change (TAN).

It appears that Singapore is doing its best and working towards a sustainable world. They have taken numerous initiatives over the years and have a clear path to follow. The government continues to take multiple strides towards Singapore’s sustainability. Yet the question of whether its efforts, without the collective public’s undertaking, is enough, still stands. In order to ensure that the future is sustainable, we must take a stand. How can you take actions to better our future?

This post was edited by Adelin Grace Conanan.

Produced by students from GEMS World Academy Singapore. Contact the team: