DPM Heng Swee Keat at The Launch of Clean and Green Singapore 2022

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 3 December 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at The Launch of Clean and Green Singapore 2022 on 3 December 2022.

Minister Grace Fu, 

Mayor Denise Phua, 

My colleagues,

SMS Sim Ann,

SPS Baey Yam Keng

Grassroots Advisers Gan Siow Huang, Yip Hon Weng and Wan Rizal,

Students, teachers, 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be with you at Eunoia Junior College this morning. This campus is a fitting venue for the launch of Clean and Green Singapore today. We are right next to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, and a stone’s throw from where we planted trees this morning! And I’m delighted to hear that we have planted over 400,000 trees now, as part of the OneMilllionTrees Movement. Incidentally, the park is celebrating 10 years since its re-opening, and its unique waterways and lush greenery are well loved by many residents. Just as important, this campus is a good example of how we can thoughtfully integrate our urban landscape with nature. 

An Evergreen Mission

A clean and green Singapore has been a national priority, since the early days of our Independence. This was decades before sustainability came to the forefront of the global agenda. Our pioneer leaders believed that a clean and green city would raise the quality of lives of our people.  A well-maintained ‘oasis’ would also attract tourists and investments. We launched national campaigns for tree planting, to clean up our rivers, improve public hygiene and more. Looking at the Singapore River today, it is hard to imagine the unforgettable stench that reeked from the waters in our early years. Through the conviction of our pioneer leaders and commitment of our people, we have transformed Singapore into a City in Nature that we can all be proud of. 

While we have come a long way, building a clean and green Singapore is an evergreen mission. With climate change being a clear and urgent global crisis, we are redoubling our efforts to build a greener Singapore, with a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We also introduced the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to set out how we can work towards this ambition. COVID-19 has also highlighted the importance of cleanliness and public health standards. While the pandemic is fading, we must not let up on our efforts on this front. How can we continue to build on what we have achieved, to create an even cleaner and greener Singapore in the years ahead? There is a lot more that we can do. But this morning, let me touch on the most critical aspect – you – the people behind a clean and green Singapore.  


Clean and green has and will always be a whole-of-society effort. While the national campaigns were initially led from the front by government, over time, our approach shifted towards forming strong partnerships with the community to take ownership of the environment. The Clean and Green movement has been a key part of this community effort, to raise public awareness, promote personal responsibility, and to mobilise ground-up actions. Each year, we strive to do more and to do better.  

As individuals, we can all do our part. Over the years, we have done reasonably well in conserving water, reducing energy consumption, and keeping our surroundings clean. But one key area where we can do much better is to reduce the amount of waste we generate. Despite efforts to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, the amount of daily waste generated has increased 7-fold over the past 40 years. We can do more to encourage recycling – not just recycling more, but to recycle right. Around 40% of the contents in the recycling bins today cannot be recycled due to contamination. To better support recycling, households can collect a home recycling box – known as a “Bloobox” – in the coming months. The “Bloobox” will help you identify what can and cannot be recycled, and also how to separate out e-waste items. So, I encourage more households to recycle more and to recycle right, through the Bloobox and other initiatives. 

Beyond our individual contributions as we go about our daily lives, each of us can also step forward to volunteer our time and expertise. One good example is the Community in Bloom nationwide gardening movement, which brings together residents, young and old, to garden together in our City in Nature. The movement has gained good momentum, and we currently have more than 1,800 community gardens across Singapore. The most critical nourishment for the Community in Bloom programme is the dedication of volunteers. This morning, we are appointing six of them to be Community in Bloom Ambassadors. Congratulations! I hope that their positive energy will encourage even more residents to contribute to this cause. 

Apart from volunteering your time through existing causes, there are also many opportunities for you to initiate new ground-up projects. To support these initiatives, the SG Eco Fund has set aside $50 million, with more than 140 projects supported so far. For example, in my East Coast constituency, sustainability workshops and activities are being run for the community, and food waste from F&B tenants are recycled into compost for landscaping and residents’ gardens. I am also glad that our youths are taking action to promote sustainability. For example, students from Eunoia JC, which we are at, worked with the ground-up group Friends of Bishan – Ang Mo Kio Park, to produce an educational video on responsible behaviour in our green spaces. Republic Polytechnic students also surveyed the population and habitat of the locally endangered purple herons in the park, and developed recommendations on conservation efforts. I look forward to even more of such ground-up initiatives in the years ahead. Well done! 

Green workforce

I have spoken about how each of us can play a part. Today is also the Environmental Services Workforce Day. So, I also want to take this opportunity to thank the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep Singapore clean and green. These are our environmental services workforce, including our cleaners, as well as waste and pest management workers. During COVID-19, we developed a deeper appreciation for these essential workers who keep us safe and keep Singapore going. I am delighted that we will be recognising 27 of them with the Environmental Services Star Award. Congratulations! I encourage everyone in the environmental services sector, to continue to reskill and upskill, and to leverage on technology and automation to do your jobs better.

Another group of people that I wish to acknowledge is the generations of public servants who have devoted themselves to this cause. This year, we celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment, and the 20th year anniversary of the National Environment Agency. The Ministry was initially known as the Ministry of the Environment, reflecting its early mission to tackle pollution and sewerage. Over the years, its mandate was broadened to include water resilience and food security, and more recently to tackle climate change and promote sustainability. In this milestone year, please join me in extending our appreciation to past and present public servants in the MSE family for their hard work and dedication. Keep up the good work! 

Looking ahead, as Singapore rides on the global green wave, many more sustainability-related jobs will be created in the environmental services industry and beyond. In fact, sustainability will become an increasingly horizontal skillset, cutting across different industries and job functions. I am therefore pleased to announce this morning that Workforce Singapore will launch its first Career Conversion Programme for Sustainability Professionals. This new programme will help to equip workers with the relevant skills, including in sustainability compliance and reporting, as well as carbon accounting.I am happy to share that there is strong interest from companies, and we expect 200 individuals to benefit from the programme in just the next few months. Through such mid-career programmes and beyond, we hope to welcome more workers to join the growing green economy and make a more direct impact to keeping Singapore clean and green. 


In closing, Singapore has come a long way in our Clean and Green Journey. But this remains an evergreen mission, especially in the face of the urgent climate crisis and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us each do our part so that together, we can contribute towards an even cleaner and greener Singapore.

Thank you, and I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend ahead.