Going green: We need to get people more involved

I spoke to Walter Sim recently for The Straits Times Supper Club interview about the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015. You can read the interview here.

Enjoyed the almost 2-hour interview chat, and not everything was covered in print or some are edited out. Here’s some of the other points:

I would give this Sustainable Singapore Blueprint a ‘B’ grade. Like any report, the school teacher will always say: Have done well but can do better. There is always room for improvement.

That’s the usual style of the Government – it underpromises and overdelivers.

We have a pragmatic government which only makes promises it is confident of keeping. I mean, this is good, because when it sets a target it is going to meet it.

The government could be bolder in areas like domestic recycling and sustainable procurement. Maybe over time it will make bolder decisions or targets – not now, but in three to five years.

We’re not a static country or society, and I’m looking forward to this greater push over time.

I think the government will need the help of individuals and businesses from the ground-up. The more we can do together, the easier to meet the targets, and to set bolder ones.

I think the biggest issue is how people are not taking responsibility and feel divorced from nature. This manifests in our personal attitudes, how people do not take responsibility for the environment.

It’s an unintended consequence of efficient development, and of how the Government has been doing a great job, that we don’t really see a personal need to take action.

It is also evident that people do not see themselves as part of nature. In the blueprint itself, there is a diagram of three concentric circles representing the society, economy and environment, and where the overlapping portion is sustainability. That’s bullshit.

The economy is a subset of society because it’s the people who provide goods and services. Then the society is a subset of the environment because that’s where you get resources. We forget that we ultimately depend on nature and its ecosystem services.

So even as people are more aware of environmental issues now, there’s still a gap between awareness and action which has not been bridged. This is the most difficult part.

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