Going green: We need to get people more involved

November 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

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.

Changing People’s Mindset and Shifting Culture

November 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Several recent letters in the newsletters were talking about the need for mindset change and culture shift, and that it is up to us to make a difference for a gracious or sustainable Singapore.

I think it is getting harder to change mindset, culture and behaviour in this digital and fast-paced age, as compared to the past when there are only few channels of communications and limited mental entertainment. Now we are bombarded by messages daily such that we feel numb and resist change.

How then can we change people’s mindset and shift culture? Maybe we can do it through two ways: Read more

Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 – Highlights and Thoughts

November 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 coverThe annual Clean and Green Singapore held over the weekend saw the release of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which is revised and updated from the previous blueprint published in 2009.

The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 outlines our national vision and plans for a more liveable and sustainable Singapore, and is broadly divided into 3 key areas:

  1. A Liveable and Endearing Home
  2. A Vibrant and Sustainable City
  3. An Active and Gracious Community

A Liveable and Endearing Home

The blueprint highlights the efforts to create more sustainable housing estates, with new HDB flats having Pneumatic Waste Conveyance Systems, solar panels, centralised chutes for recyclables, rainwater harvesting, rooftop greenery, and elevator energy regeneration systems. Sustainable features will also be introduced to existing HDB estates through the HDB Greenprint programme. Read more

Insights on the Circular Economy in Singapore

October 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Circular - 1 Our current linear production and consumption model of “take, make and dispose” is not sustainable. We no longer can afford to use more limited resources and create more waste. We have to change, and the alternative model that is fast gaining traction is the circular economy.

Driven by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and building upon concepts such as Cradle to Cradle, Industrial Ecology and Biomimicry, the circular economy is likely to be the next big sustainability trend. Read more

Thoughts After Watching Disruption

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Some of my thoughts after watching Disruption, the film about the People’s Climate March:

1) Framing

We must consider how we frame climate change. If we frame it as caused by an enemy (government, oil companies, etc), then we risk forgetting that the enemy is also us. It is our daily actions and consumption that cause the problem.

If the frame is about dark green or focusing on negativity, blaming the government and businesses, doom and gloom, polar bears are dying, we are dead, etc. This would just put people off and not inspire hope and action. The frame has to be more bright green or about solutions, technologies, behaviour change and individuals and businesses and governments coming together to take action. Imagining our bright green future is key to inspire change and action. Read more

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