Speech By Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme, 16 March 2012
SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS AND MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, AT THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE SINGAPORE GREEN LABELLING SCHEME, 16 MARCH 2012
Ms Isabella Loh, Chairman, Singapore Environment Council
Ladies and gentlemen
A very good afternoon to all of you. It is my pleasure to speak to you today at the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme.
The environment is a strategic priority
Singapore has, since its early days of nationhood, given top priority to high environmental standards, and as a result of this, we have enjoyed a strong reputation as a clean and green city. Our aim is to be a working model of a sustainable city for the future. Indeed, the fresh air, clean water and green spaces that we enjoy are not just a matter of national pride, but have also given us a competitive advantage over many of the other global city states that compete against us.
But Singapore must be prepared that while we have thus far enjoyed a positive global standing in terms of our environmental performance, we must strive to do better in the face of greater environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletions and landfill constraints.
Recently, Singapore was ranked poorly in the University of British Columbia’s Eco2 Index. It ranked us last amongst 150 countries on the basis of our ecological deficit. Countries that performed well were “offering future generations better financial, food, water, and energy security”. Land-scarce, densely populated Singapore, which relies on imported resources did not do well.
While we would have preferred to be benchmarked against cities (such as New York, instead of the US as a country), we should also be reminded by the ranking that we are dependent on imported resources- from the water we drink, to the food we consume- and that we run an “ecology deficit” to sustain our country. Given our Karma as a small country, our environment is all the more precious to us. We - the Government, private sector and the people - collectively as a nation can, and must try to minimise our resource use and waste generated.
Empowering consumers to make informed decisions
To guide the stakeholders towards making the best decisions for the environment, and ultimately for themselves, adequate information should be made available to them. Consumer education is necessary in moulding a society that is aware of the environmental impact of their actions, because only when you provide consumers with information, are they empowered to make informed decisions.
The Government has been trying to facilitate this through various schemes, for instance the Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (which provides customers with information on the energy efficiency and performance of air-cons and refrigerators), Fuel Economy Labelling Scheme (which raises consumer awareness of fuel economy in passenger vehicles) and the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (which reflects the water efficiency level of a product), amongst many others.
Indeed, the Green Labelling Scheme is actually one of the longstanding initiatives that was implemented by the Government 20 years ago to enhance public awareness about environmental sustainability. The Singapore Environment Council took over the administration of the scheme in 1999, and I am very glad that they have continued to improve and refine the scheme, such as raising the number of certifiable product categories, so that consumers have a wider choice of such products. I am also very excited to learn that SEC has plans to expand the Green Label into the region, which would definitely help to boost the value of the Label to manufacturers who are keen on getting their products certified.
Ultimately, we need the concerted efforts of all stakeholders – the Government to provide the regulatory and fiscal framework, changing public mindset; the corporate sector to comply with standards and fulfil its corporate social responsibility to the environment by adopting responsible practices; and consumers that are aware of their individual responsibility to the environment that we live in, and to exercise their right as consumers. Green labelling is an important piece of the jigsaw on sustainable development. Even after 20 years, I am confident that the Green Label can grow even more in its stature as a trustworthy benchmark of environmental-friendliness and quality for everyone. Once again, congratulations to the SEC in taking the Green Label to the next level and doing her part in making Singapore more environmentally friendly.
Thank you for your time, and I wish you a fruitful day ahead.