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National Sustainability Conference 2010 jointly organised by NUS and University of Sydney

04 August 2010

CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABILITY: Guest-of-Honour Dr Amy Khor (centre, in pink), Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, along with the conference speakers

FIRST PANEL SESSION: (From left) Dr Song Bin, Director of Sustainable Manufacturing Centre, Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology; Dr Gao Chun Ping from the Green Mark Department, Building and Construction Authority; and Mr Lee Chuan Seng, President of Singapore Green Building Council addressing the topic “Leading Singapore to a Sustainable Future”

The second National Sustainability Conference (NSC) in Singapore took place from 29 to 30 July this year. Entitled “Environmental Up-Skilling and the Green Collar Economy”, the conference was co-organised by the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES), NUS and the Workplace Research Centre, University of Sydney. It brought together policymakers, academics and members of the industry to explore key themes such as sustainable strategies to be pursued for Singapore and the Asia-Pacific, and the attendant implications that these strategies have on businesses in the environmental economy in terms of operations, management and hiring principles.

The inaugural NSC last year focused on global sustainability issues in Singapore’s context, our response to these challenges, and the emerging opportunities from the challenges. This year’s NSC continued the discussion by pursuing the implementable strategies that firms and businesses could adopt to constructively harness the opportunities present.

Opening the conference was Singapore’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and Mayor, South West District, Dr Amy Khor. In her Keynote Address, she spoke about the three pressing challenges that Singapore would need to address in order to pursue economic development without it being at the expense of the environment.

Strains on the environment resulting from continued population and economic growth, and ever-increasing resource scarcity, meant that Singapore as a responsible global citizen would need to become part of concerted international efforts to achieve a more comprehensive sustainable development. Following the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint released in April 2009 by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD), Singapore is aiming to achieve a 35 per cent improvement in energy efficiency from 2005 levels by year 2030.

To achieve the goals set under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, Dr Amy Khor emphasised that “it is imperative that we receive full support from the business community, and indeed from each and everyone in Singapore.” Elaborating on Singapore’s energy conservation efforts, she announced that MEWR was preparing to introduce an Energy Conservation Act, which would come into force in 2013.

Some of the other solutions explored in the conference plenary sessions were greening existing buildings, increasing the uptake of Green Mark Certification for Non-Residential buildings, and further developing clean manufacturing. All these would require a combination of legislative and government incentive to help spur the industry, as well as bottom-up social development for future proofing.

Leading Research Analyst from the Workplace Research Centre Mr Mike Rafferty said in his closing comments that in order to build and grow both the Singaporean and Australian economies, the way we build our capacities would have to be changed in order to have a better and lower carbon economy.

By Grace Tan, Office of Environmental Sustainability, NUS