Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Launch of Clean and Green Singapore 2020 on 28 November 2020.
Good morning. This year marks a significant milestone in the history of Clean and Green Singapore.
We celebrate 30 years of Clean and Green Singapore.
Today’s event takes place in the middle of a global pandemic that has tested us on multiple fronts and challenged us to overcome extraordinary circumstances.
Clean and Green Singapore was launched in 1990 by Mr Goh Chok Tong, who was then Deputy Prime Minister. This movement built on two campaigns that were started not long after Independence – the “Keep Singapore Clean” campaign and Tree Planting Day.
Our efforts over the decades reflect Singapore’s unwavering belief that environmental sustainability can complement economic development and improve the well-being of our people.
In the years since Independence, we have relocated street hawkers into hawker centres, cleaned up our rivers and waterways, and created green spaces and gardens. These efforts have transformed Singapore into a highly liveable and sustainable city.
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Clean and Green Singapore, it is timely to reflect on how making Singapore clean, green and sustainable can continue to strengthen us as a nation and as a society.
Cleaner and Safer
Keeping Singapore clean has taken on greater significance as personal hygiene and public cleanliness are key lines of defence against the COVID-19 pandemic.
To strengthen our fight against the virus, we launched the SG Clean movement in February. Our basic belief is that keeping Singapore clean is a shared responsibility.
NEA has been working with businesses, community partners and premises owners to enhance cleaning standards. More than 25,000 premises have adopted good cleaning practices and received the SG Clean Quality Mark certification. They include hawker centres, coffeeshops, hotels, schools and public transport nodes.
Singaporeans have an important role to play. There is now heightened public awareness of the importance of good personal hygiene. Many of you have done your part to keep our shared spaces clean. For example, you have returned your trays after meals, used public toilets responsibly, and disposed of used tissues properly in bins.
These simple actions by businesses and our people go a long way in keeping us safe from the virus. I hope that this higher level of hygiene and cleanliness will become part of our new way of living, long after the virus is gone.
In addition to COVID-19, dengue has been another worrying health threat. This year, we experienced a record number of dengue cases. There are now more dengue fatalities than there are COVID-19 deaths.
Keeping our environment clean of mosquito breeding habitats is key to combating dengue. We have intensified dengue inspections and outreach efforts to remind everyone to protect themselves and practise the Mozzie Wipeout. As with COVID-19, containing dengue will require a collective community effort.
Discarded receptacles are a main habitat for mosquito breeding. About 1,000 mosquito breeding habitats were detected this year in plastic containers, empty drink cans and other litter.
All of us can prevent dengue transmission by disposing our litter responsibly, removing stagnant water from our homes and eliminating mosquito breeding habitats.
Greener and More Sustainable
Keeping Singapore clean helps to keep us safe from COVID-19, dengue and other infectious diseases. However, beyond addressing these immediate public health threats, Singapore is also redoubling our efforts to build a greener and more sustainable future.
The renaming of the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, or MSE, in July reflects the Government’s commitment to put sustainability at the core of everything we do.
We are making progress towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation. In 2019, we generated about 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste from disposables ― 20 per cent more than we did the previous year. This amount of waste is enough to fill 400 Olympic-size swimming pools. At this rate, Semakau Landfill – our only landfill – will run out of space in 15 years.
MSE has been working closely with industry and community partners to create a circular economy — one that converts trash into treasure and reuses our resources for as long as possible.
Every one of us can play our part in making Singapore more sustainable.
Earlier this year, we announced that 1- to 3-room HDB households will be given vouchers to purchase LED lights, energy-efficient refrigerators, and water-efficient shower fittings. I am happy to share that starting today, eligible households will be able to apply online for their e-vouchers. I hope this $25 million Climate-Friendly Household Package will encourage households to take action to reduce their energy and water consumption. By doing so, they will also be saving money!
We must also make an effort to generate less waste, through “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”. Our individual efforts, put together, can make a big difference.
We will strive to work with you to create and implement new ideas to make Singapore more sustainable. In September, we convened a Citizens’ Workgroup, comprising passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, to collectively tackle the excessive use of disposables. We look forward to the recommendations of the Workgroup and to put practicable recommendations into action.
Another area of community partnership is in making Singapore greener. We will work with our people to transform Singapore into a City in Nature. We will step up efforts to integrate nature into our urban environment and intensify nature in our city.
Every year, as part of Clean and Green Singapore, we plant trees together. This is a valuable tradition started by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who planted a Mempat tree at Farrer Circus in June 1963.
This year, we continue this tradition, with some safe management measures in place. I have planted a tree in ITE College East as part of the One Million Trees movement. We target to plant a million trees over the next decade across Singapore in our streetscapes, green spaces and even industrial estates. Community participation is crucial in this effort.
Besides creating more green spaces, we are also greening our transport system, buildings, and industries.
We aim to green 80 per cent of our buildings by 2030, and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040. We are helping companies to improve energy efficiency and adopt circular economy practices.
We have a vision to transform all HDB towns into Eco Towns, to bring environmental sustainability to the community. Tampines, Choa Chu Kang, and Nee Soon have been earmarked as Singapore’s first Eco Towns. I look forward to Bedok being in the next wave of Eco Towns.
Our efforts to create a greener and more sustainable future will not only improve our living environment, it will help to grow our economy, generate more business and create good green jobs.
For example, the shift towards more recycling, reusing, repairing, and remanufacturing of products will create new economic possibilities. Raising our environmental sanitation and waste management standards, together with our efforts to upskill workers will enable our people to access higher value-added jobs.
As we promote cleaner, greener and more sustainable development, there is good potential for us to create new markets, products and services. We will spur innovation and fuel the growth of industries.
Over the past 30 years, we have made remarkable progress to keep Singapore clean and green. We have much to be proud of. However, as we face pressing challenges like climate change and public health threats, we must do even more. Each of us must do our part. By working in close partnership, we can achieve even more. This is the spirit of Singapore Together. Let us work towards building a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future for ourselves and our children in the years to come.
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