Speech by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, at the School Green Awards Presentation Ceremony at Suntec City Convention Centre

Published Date: 20 September 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

Chairman of Singapore Environment Council, Ms Isabella Huang-Loh;

Chief Corporate Officer of Starhub, Ms Veronica Lai;

Teachers and students – including those of you joining us virtually;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all of you.

Introduction

1. It's a pleasure to be here with you, to celebrate the outstanding efforts of our schools in building a more sustainable Singapore.

2. My heartiest congratulations to all the award winners!

  1. To the participating teachers and students – thank you for doing your part for the environment.

COVID-19 Pandemic – an Opportunity for Change

3. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our rhythm of life in many ways.

  1. We had to put a pause on some activities that used to be a familiar routine,
  2. And accelerate some changes that are becoming new social norms.

4. It has changed the way we live, learn and play. It has also changed the way we consume.

5. Globally, the plastic waste footprint has increased due to more widespread use of plastic disposables during this period.

6. In Singapore, we see households disposing of more packaging waste, as people turn to meal deliveries and online shopping for their needs.

7. But this crisis also presents opportunities for us to change.

  1. We have seen how the pandemic has made some sustainability issues more challenging –
  2. Do we choose to continue with the way we live, or do we proactively choose to make a change?
  3. As the pandemic continues to shape our way of life, it is also a chance for us to reflect on our past choices and embrace a greener and more sustainable lifestyle.

8. When MOE launched the Eco Stewardship Programme as part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 earlier this year,

  1. We set out ambitious and concrete targets to reduce carbon emissions from the school sector.
  2. And as importantly, to equip our young with the values, knowledge and skills to become responsible stewards of our environment.

9. I am glad that schools have not let up on these efforts even as we grapple with many changes like home-based learning during this period.

10. With the pandemic casting a spotlight on the issue of plastic waste,

  1. River Valley High School held a "7 days habit challenge",
  2. Where students were encouraged to adopt a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, including saying no to plastic disposables.
  3. Many schools also started asking students to bring their own lunch boxes, and have canteen vendors switch from disposables to reusables.

11. Schools have also tried to foster a stronger recycling culture.

  1. Bukit Batok Secondary School set up a centralised collection point in the school canteen, where staff and students can easily access.
  2. PCF Sparkletots @ Pasir Ris West held a fun "Trashion Show" for students to showcase costumes made from upcycled items.

12. The strong participation of our schools in the School Green Awards is testament to their unwavering commitment in building a greener Singapore.

13. Indeed, even as we address the immediate challenges from the pandemic, we must continue to keep our sights on the longer term challenge of climate change and environmental sustainability. And at this point, perhaps to follow on from what Isabella mentioned about the term 'sustainability' as making sure that this generation does not deprive future generations of their share of natural resources. In Singapore, we have actually embraced this concept since 1965, before the word 'sustainability' or the term 'climate change' came into fashion. In fact, our attitude is perhaps 'sustainability plus'. We don't just want to avoid depriving future generations of the resources due to them. In every generation, we want to leave behind a better Singapore, a more sustainable Singapore for the next generation. And in every generation, we will leave behind a greener, bluer, and cleaner environment for the next generation. And to this generation, we hope to do the same for you as what the last generation has done for us, which is to leave us on a stronger foundation to scale greater heights in time to come. And this will be our promise to the next generation as well, and we hope that the next generation, the younger generation, will similarly promise future generations beyond yourself, that you too, will leave them with an even stronger foundation to be much more sustainable, greener, and cleaner than what you have inherited.

Conclusion

14. In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to the Singapore Environment Council for your many contributions to the sustainability cause.

  1. You have developed a comprehensive platform for schools to gain recognition for their green efforts.
  2. Your programmes and initiatives have generated momentum for the environmental sustainability movement in Singapore.
  3. And we look forward to your continued partnership

15. A crisis does not define us; how we respond to it will.

  1. All of us can choose to be the change that we want to see,
  2. And we can seize the opportunities to make lasting changes to our lifestyles and habits.
  3. Sustainability is not a slogan. It requires action, and it requires action on the part of everyone. And we believe that collectively, each and every little action on our part will add to our eventual goal of leaving behind a more sustainable Singapore for future generations. Not only will we not deprive them of their share of the resources, we will leave them with even more than what we have inherited from our forefathers. Thank you very much.
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