Newshub - NUS' News Portal

Sustainability symposium debates Population White Paper

2 Oct 2013

Panel of discussion on “Our Living Environment”: (from left) Dr Tambyah, Dr Chan, moderator and founder of GreenCollarAsia & Ecowalkthe Talk Ms Bhavani Prakash, Mr Ng and Dr Lum

Participants contributing their ideas and visions for Singapore on a “tree” at the exhibition
The Population White Paper released earlier this year in Singapore sparked concern from environmental groups on issues relating to the sustainability of the country’s land use plans. A group of students from the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) at NUS decided to address the matter after discussing the impact of the paper with Professor Chou Loke Ming, Professor Leo Tan and Professor Peter Ng from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences.

With the goals of encouraging education and fostering dialogue and action, the Singapore Futures Sustainability Symposium (SFSS) was conceived and held on 28 September 2013 at NUS University Town.

Project Director Ezra Ho, who is a Year 3 BES undergraduate, said: “Even if we are students, we can play an active part in improving governance by adding our voices to the many out there.”  

The organising committee from BES – Ezra, Judy Goh, Cindi Toh, Samuel Chan and Ng Hui Ying – structured the symposium around two themes: the living environment and urban environment. Speakers from different sectors presented topics ranging from human-wildlife conflict to the growing problem of infectious diseases, and urban planning solutions.

“For these [BES] students, these issues are not just an academic exercise. These are real issues that require people to come together, for a solution,” Nominated Member of Parliament Ms Faizah Jamal, the Guest-of-Honour, said at the event. In her opening address, she commended the youths for taking charge of their own future by imagining new paradigms for a sustainable future.

The event attracted a diverse audience of more than 110 participants from academia and companies in the field of green technology and sustainability. The first panel included Dr Shawn Lum, president of Nature Society (Singapore); Mr Louis Ng of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore); Dr Paul Tambyah, Professor of Medicine at NUS and Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician; and Dr Lena Chan, Director of the National Biodiversity Centre at National Parks Board.

Speakers in the second panel comprised Mr Devadas Krishnadas, Founder and Director of Future-Moves; Mr Christopher Gee, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, NUS; Dr Chong Keng Hua, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design; and Mr Tay Kheng Soon, Principal Architect of Akitek Tenggara.

The discussion generated much debate among the attendees, with some questioning the perspectives in which policy-making decisions are made with regards to the environment.

Participants at the Symposium were also invited to contribute their ideas and vision of a more sustainable Singapore at an exhibition by the BES students.

Follow the developments of SFSS on

By Judy Goh, BES and University Scholars Programme, Year 2