Election Fever and Earth Day Action in Singapore
Announcing the date for the next General Election and celebrating Earth Day all fell in the same week. The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) announced that under Earth Helpers, businesses and organisations keen on launching an environmental project – but lacking the resources to do so – will be invited to partner with the Singapore Environment Council and a group of Singapore environmentalists who assemble informally every month as “Green Drinks” is advocating for more green discussions in the new Parliament. Meanwhile, Singapore schools will be observing an environment day every April 22 (Earth Day) in a bid by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to encourage youth to be pro-nature. Pictured is the Earth Day Eco Walk at Siloso Beach Resort.
‘More green discussions in Parliament, please’
By Lynda Hong Ee Lyn in Today (20 April 2011):
Employment, rising costs of living and many other bread and butter issues have been so-called hot-button election topics but a group of environmentalists in the latest Green Drinks – an informal monthly gathering of environmentalists – is advocating for more green discussions in the new Parliament.
Together with seven panellists – leaders of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businessmen and a former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) – some 40 participants discussed how environmental issues can be further advocated on a political level.
Former NMP and IUT Global CEO Edwin Khew said discussions on environmental issues in the latest Parliament that was dissolved yesterday were rare, adding that his predecessor NMPs had mostly raised bread and butter issues.
One example on the lack of green empathy was the national recycling rate of 58 per cent. If industrial recyclables from construction waste were excluded, the household recycling rate would sink to such a low rate it would “stick out like a sore thumb.”
While greater scrutiny of environmental issues is needed, the majority agreed that Singapore is not ready for a Green Party, as is the case in Germany and Australia.
Green issues could be looked at in totality as a part of all national issues, including defence, foreign affairs and housing, suggested participant Joseph Chun.
Another way would be to have an official to overlook green issues in every ministry, said Mr Mark Cheng, co-founder of NGO Avelife.
Panellist Allan Lim, CEO of Alpha Biofuels, suggested a bottom-up approach in pressurising politicians to be more environmentally aware.
This, he said, could be achieved by building a critical mass of environmentalist Singaporeans.
He asked – a rhetorical question perhaps – would political candidates be more inclined to attend Green Drinks sessions if they were held at a Community Club instead?
Another way to get more politicians to be more environmentally aware is to press for more green jobs, said Mr Wilson Ang, founder of ECO Singapore.
Agreeing, Mr Howard Shaw, former executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, added that a green economy can spur political will.
Despite the People’s Action Party’s promise to build a green and sustainable society, five previously elected Members of Parliament and Ministers of State have declined to attend Green Drinks gatherings.
Organisers say discussions at Green Drinks sessions will be collated and presented to the various political parties.
A helping hand for those going green in Singapore
Yuen Sin in Straits Times (22 April 2011):
THE staff of Siloso Beach Resort are keen to expand their environmental initiatives but are often too busy conducting tours of its natural surroundings for guests.
With the launch of the Earth Helpers programme by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), they will be able to get a helping hand to do these tours, leaving them free to nurture other initiatives.
At SEC’s Earth Day celebrations yesterday, chairman Isabella Loh said organisations have often raised the issue of having difficulty in finding the right people with the expertise and passion in managing or implementing environmental initiatives.
This is where the SEC comes in.
Under Earth Helpers, businesses and organisations keen on launching an environmental project – but lacking the resources to do so – will be invited to partner the SEC and tap on its staff and volunteers.
Management and staff from these organisations will also be encouraged to participate.
There are no restrictions on the type of projects that can be proposed but the commitment of organisations and how impactful the project is would count.
Moving beyond spreading general awareness, the SEC aims to engage at least 10 companies under the scheme this year.
It has more than 100 long-term, registered volunteers and hopes that this initiative will expand their number.
‘It’s a chicken-and-egg situation,’ Ms Loh said. ‘Volunteers will sign up when they see that there are projects that require their support.’
At next year’s Earth Day celebrations, volunteers can look forward to being presented with awards under a new recognition programme announced yesterday.
Environmental journalism awards will also be given to media professionals from both traditional and new media.
Schools to mark April 22 as eco-friendly day for youth
Lim Yi Han in Straits Times (22 April 2011):
CLASS, attention please. Schools will be observing an environment day every April 22 in a bid by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to encourage youth to be pro-nature.
Launched on Wednesday, the Youth For The Environment Day will be included in the National Education calendar for all primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and the Institute of Technical Education.
April 22 also marks Earth Day which is celebrated in many countries.
The NEA believes that schools are a good start to getting young people committed to caring for the environment.
Schools are encouraged to mark the April 22 event by organising environment-related activities, such as visiting incineration plants to get an insight into waste management.
Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive officer of NEA, said he believes there is a growing awareness among young people here not to take their surroundings for granted.
Youth For The Environment Day is intended to give them their own platform to celebrate and nurture ‘this culture of environmental ownership’.
At the event’s launch, which was attended by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, NEA also handed out the EcoFriend awards to 11 individuals, of whom six are young people.
The awards, launched in 2007, recognise outstanding environment champions.
One recipient is Mr Chua Ang Hong, 21, a first-year student at Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Business School.
Last year, he organised an anti-littering campaign in Aljunied GRC where he is vice-chairman of the Ci Yuan Community Centre Youth Executive Committee.
The six-month campaign included house visits that saw his team reach out to 12,000 residents to educate them about the danger of killer litter.
Mr Chua, who is also business manager in Earthlink NTU, the school’s environmental club, said: ‘All of us have a part to play in conserving the environment because we are also taking resources from it.’
To find out more about the Youth For The Environment Day, visit www.yed.sg