Upcoming Green Drinks: Air Pollution in Singapore

Join us this month as we look at the subject of Air Pollution in Singapore. This session begins with a talk by Dr. Erik Velasco, Research Scientist at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology, and Lynn Tang, Director of Programs, Environmental Health at Vital Strategies, and will be followed by a panel discussion with our speakers and Aurélie Charmeau, Director of Research and Ground Solutions at People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM Haze).

This session is supported by Young NTUC.

Continue reading “Upcoming Green Drinks: Air Pollution in Singapore”

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Green Drinks: The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint + People’s Expedition to Experience Peat

This month, find out more about the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB), and peatland conservation. We have a few special guests this time.

MEWR and NEA will give a presentation on the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, in particular, “Towards A Zero Waste Nation”, while Benjamin Tay of PM Haze will talk about the recent People’s Expedition to Experience Peat (PEEP) at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) in Selangor, Malaysia.
To read up about the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, please see here!
Big thanks to Melissa Chong for helping to organise this session!
Date: 31 August 2016 (Wed)
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Venue: The Singapore Jazz Club, 101 Jalan Sultan, #02-00, The Sultan.
Admission: Free (contributions to society accepted)
RSVP: Via Facebook or email greendrinkssingapore@gmail.com
See you there!
About Gwyndalyn Ko’s and Li Xin Min’s talks
The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB) outlines the national vision and plans for the next phase of sustainable development in Singapore. There are 5 key themes of the SSB – Eco-Smart Endearing Towns, A Car-Lite Singapore, Towards a Zero Waste Nation, A Leading Green Economy, and An Active and Gracious Community.
 
Gwyndalyn Ko (MEWR) will be sharing on the background of the SSB, and an overview of the 5 key themes. Thereafter, Xin Min (NEA)’s presentation will provide an overview of the solid waste management system in Singapore, and delve into the strategies and initiatives for two main waste streams – food waste and packaging waste – that aim to move Singapore towards the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation.
About Benjamin Tay’s talk
How to stop the haze and have fun at the same time? Here are the three ingredients: a group of passionate people, a peat forest, and warm, welcoming homestay. We overcame a long journey, hard labour and the scorching sun, and built our own 3.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep canal block to help maintain water level of the peat swamp. We left our worries behind and waded through the peat swamp forest reserve and supported local agro-tourism.
At the upcoming Green Drinks, People’s Movement to Stop Haze will share the wonderful 3-day People’s Expedition to Experience Peat (PEEP) at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) in Selangor, Malaysia that allowed everyone joining the trip to deepen the understanding of peat land conservation in the local ecology and economic context and to feel accomplished and bonded more than ever.
About Our Speakers
About Gwyndalyn Ko
Gwyndalyn Ko joined the Communications and 3P Partnership Division of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in October 2013. As part of the Outreach & Engagement team, she was involved in the review and consultation processes for the SSB 2015.
 
Since the launch of the SSB 2015, MEWR has also embarked on an engagement plan to share the SSB messages with the wider 3P network, and seek collaboration synergies. This is aligned with the Ministry’s aim to shift cultural norms and encourage all stakeholders to play an active role as environmental stewards in striving towards a Sustainable Singapore.
 
About Li Xin Min
Lee Xin Min joined the Waste and Resource Management Department of the National Environment Agency in July 2015. As an Engineer in the Planning section, Xin Min is involved in the formulation of new, longer-term strategies for waste management, in particular for food waste, packaging waste and e-waste.
 
She was also part of the secretariat for the Singapore Packaging Agreement, a joint initiative between the government, industry and non-governmental organisations to reduce packaging waste.
About Benjamin Tay
Benjamin started his journey with the financial industry and after 6 years, he left to join the education service. He gained a lot from his students at School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA) as they taught him the value of education and to pursue his dreams. His post-graduate education at the Australian National University further sparked his interest in the Southeast Region that he seeks to gain knowledge of. His current work with PM.Haze has given him the opportunity to interact with diverse individuals, from the public sector, private sector involved in the palm oil value chain, and individuals who are involved in other civil society groups and similar ground up initiatives. He wants to help youth in Singapore realise their true potential through an effective and meaningful engagement with the social and environmental issues on and around the haze problem.

Analysis and noteworthy points from “GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress” session

Our recent collaborative event – GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress – with PM.Haze, Hemispheres, Sharksavers and Foodscape Collective brought members of the public together for a meaningful discussion on environmental issues in relation to political parties and the upcoming election. We would like to thank these groups for partnering with us to make this happen, also, a big thank you to Teo Kia Meng for being our scribe for the evening, and for piecing together this analysis of the event. For more straightforward access, we will also be posting this on our “downloads” page.

Green Drinks – GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress
3 September 2015, 7pm – 9pm
SingJazz Club, The Sultan

Notable Attendees:
Ajax Ke, People’s Power Party
Louis Ng, People’s Action Party

In tandem with the upcoming elections, this edition of Green Drinks aimed to identify Singaporean green issues and subsequently, discuss the different political parties’ views on these issues.

A pre-event survey was sent out to the active political parties to gauge their positions on green issues, and their responses were discussed during the event. Only the People’s Power Party (PPP) responded before the deadline. To measure the other parties’ commitment to green issues, their manifestos were analysed.

 

Analysis by Green Drinks on party positions regarding green issues

PPP’s response to the survey was encouraging. PPP indicated that multiple issues such as Food Security, Rising Sea Levels, Sustainable Development and Animal Conservation would be discussed with the public during the election period.

Ajax Ke from the PPP was asked whether his party’s responses in the survey would be present in the PPP manifesto, but was unable to answer with certainty, as the PPP manifesto was still in development on the date of the event.

The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) manifesto included plans to create “vibrant and liveable” environments. Specific initiatives included the formation of pedestrian and cyclist friendly precincts, abundant green public spaces and making the commute to workplaces easier. Also included were plans to double the rail network.

The Worker’s Party (WP) manifesto included numerous initiatives. The WP would push for the proliferation of cycling lanes and signage to create cycling towns, to create more connected communities. Car sharing schemes would be also be given a boost with more car-sharing locations. Priority at prime parking spaces in HDB estates would also be given to car sharing schemes. WP’s manifesto also contained plans for making HDB towns more walkable, enhancing Singapore’s food security, protecting our natural heritage and several other initiatives.

Singaporeans First (SingFirst) aimed to transform estates into vibrant communities that are self-contained. Workplaces, services and entertainment would be situated in proximity to homes.

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) planned to nationalise the public transport system. Failing this, the transportation sector in Singapore should be liberalized by increasing tender opportunities for private transport companies. Measures such as full-day concession rates on public transport for elderly citizens would also be pursued.

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) proposed for more studies to be undertaken on the optimal population size of Singapore in sociological and economic terms, and to only grow our population when the necessary infrastructure was in place.

Reform Party (RP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Singapore People’s Party (SPP) had either no manifesto published during the date of event, or had no relevant mentions to green issues within their manifesto.

 

Discussions and presentations by various topics

Topics of discussion were suggested by attendees. Topics included: Nature/Biodiversity: Conservation and Research, Environmental Education, Waste Reduction, Environmental Impact Assessments, Economy/Population/Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy. Participants attended the topic of their choice and formed discussion groups. Each group then had a chance at a post-discussion presentation that outlined the group’s concerns on their topic, as well as potential opportunities and solutions that could apply to Singapore.

Key points of the group discussions and presentations have been transcribed into a document that can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bkF1s2SH23pl_UPIleKvliSGXtLCTkaaLVJGUswVy6g/edit#

 

Selected responses by Louis Ng, Executive Director of the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) and first time candidate for the PAP in Nee Soon.

Louis mentioned several animal projects that he is involved in. In Nee Soon East, where Louis is based, he has met with stray feeders and the practice of cat culling and trapping has ceased. The Cat Welfare Society was also involved in discussions. Louis promised that shark’s fin would not be allowed at any events in Nee Soon East and Chong Pang.

When questioned on whether issues such as Green Economy, Green Jobs, development that factors in social inequality and environmental impacts would be part of the policymaking process, Louis was unable to speak on behalf of the PAP in specifics, but assured that he would champion environmental issues.

When questioned whether it would be difficult to raise environmental concerns in Parliament, Louis replied that he did not think so.

Louis shared with the audience that he participated in the Animal Welfare Legislation Committee, stating that legislation was amended based on public feedback. Louis pointed out the significance of these changes, as the Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill, and the Bill was ultimately drawn up and proposed based on public feedback.

Louis mentioned that government policy was not the only way to affect change in green issues, and that when private companies were willing to take a step as well, people’s actions could be changed. He mentioned IKEA’s policy of charging for plastic bags and that customers carrying purchases by hand without plastic bags, was a common sight at the checkout area.

Bishan resident Leroy Kwok mentioned that in his estate, lift upgrading projects take almost 4 years to complete, and that most of the time, construction workers are not present at the work sites. Also, Diesel trucks used by the contractors leave their engines idle for hours.

Louis mentioned that parking and leaving the engine on is a criminal offence, and that the National Environment Agency (NEA) can impose a fine in such situations, and advised Leroy to contact the NEA in future situations.

On whether environmental factors would be considered during government procurement, Louis replied by saying that currently, majority of procurement is being made based on cost considerations, but did not respond as to why environmental factors were not considered.

GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress

With the general elections looming, Green Drinks is collaborating with PM.Haze, Hemispheres, Sharksavers, Foodscape Collective and individual environmental activists to look at a variety of green issues that affect Singapore, and what we would like to see communicated during the election period.

We have sent a brief questionnaire to active political parties to find out their position on green issues, and we hope to discuss their responses during this session.

In addition, we’d like to hear your views on what you would like to see the political parties do better at. Come down and share your views!

Date: 3 September (Thursday) 2015
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: SingJazz Club, 101 Jalan Sultan, #02-00 The Sultan
Admission: Free
RSVP: Facebook or email greendrinkssingapore@gmail.com

We hope to see you there!

Green Drinks: Shifting Towards a Haze-Free Society

This month we look at the #sghaze issue. Our speaker and panellists recap what has happened to date, and update you on what they are working on, and what we can do as citizens.

Tan Yihan of PM.Haze kicks off the night with a talk on what their organisation is doing about the haze. This is followed by a panel discussion with him, Kavickumar Muruganathan of Singapore Environment Council (SEC) Cheong Poh Kwan of Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), and Karen Sim of WWF Singapore.

Big thanks to Young NTUC, who have helped us secure this venue.

Join us!

Details
Date: 30 July (Thursday)
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: NTUC Building, Room 801 (8th floor), One Marina Boulevard. Please take the glass lifts outside the building
RSVP: Via Facebook or email greendrinkssingapore@gmail.com
Admission is free

How to get there: If taking the MRT, stop at Raffles Place MRT and take exit J. Buses that service the area include – 10, 70, 97, 100, 107, 130, 131, 162, 196

About Tan Yihan
Tan Yi Han, 30, is co-founder of People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze). Tan Yi Han is a financial consultant by day, but is an avid eco-warrior 24/7. Tan leads a team of about 20 people from all walks of life – students, researchers, teachers and professionals, who are just as passionate as him about putting an end to the haze.

An engineering graduate, Tan Yi Han deviated from his usual line of studies due to his desire to actively engage people rather than come up with technical means to solve environmental problems. He subsequently became actively involved at ECO Singapore for two and a half years. Frustrated by the recurring haze and the blame game that occurred, Tan Yi Han went to Indonesia in 2013 to see and experience the problem for himself.

It was in February 2014, where he gathered together like-minded people to start discussing the tentative steps towards stopping haze and eventually formed PM.Haze.

When he is not fighting for greater awareness of haze solutions, Yi Han enjoys travelling to remote places to experience and appreciate a simpler way of life with the locals.

About PM.Haze
People’s Movement to Stop Haze(PM.Haze) is a movement initiated in February 2014 by a group of ordinary people in Singapore because we believe that everyone can make a difference in stopping the haze.

Our vision is a world where everyone feels responsible for the clean air we all enjoy.

Our mission is to empower people in Singapore with the knowledge, values and means to be drivers of global action to stop haze.

Knowledge: Awareness of our role in the haze issue through our consumption and investment choices, particularly with regards to palm oil, paper and wood.

Values: Appreciation of clean air and a sense of personal responsibility towards the environment, society and our future generations.

Means: Information and tools to facilitate individual consumption and investment choices, as well as a platform for influencing others

About Kavickumar Muruganathan
Kavickumar Muruganathan heads the eco-certification team in the Singapore Environment Council, where he assesses and administers the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme, the region’s oldest and most recognised eco-label.

An expert in carbon footprint assessment and reporting, Kavic is a member of the Singapore Standards Council Technical Committees & Working Group for Paints & Surface Coatings, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Management, and Environmental Management System. He was also invited in 2013 to be a member of the Environment Standards Committee working group to define terminologies for waste management.

Armed with an Honours degree in Environmental Engineering from the National University of Singapore, Kavic’s professional credentials include that of a National Environment Agency-certified Environmental Control Officer, an ISO 14001 & ISO 18001 Lead Auditor and an approved HazMat expert.

In 2014, he was invited to be a Building Construction Authority Green Mark Version 5 Building Material and Product Taskforce Member.

Kavic is also currently pursuing his Masters in Environmental Management at the National University of Singapore.

About SEC
Established in 1995, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is an independently managed, non-profit and non-government organisation (NGO). We influence thinking on sustainability issues and coordinate environmental efforts in Singapore. We are also an approved charity and offer tax exemption to donors.

SEC continuously engages all sectors of the community by formulating and executing a range of holistic programmes, such as the Singapore Environmental Achievement Awards, Asian Environmental Journalism Awards, School Green Awards, Green Champions, Singapore Green Labelling Scheme, Project: Eco-Office, Project: Eco-Shop and Project: F&B. In addition, we build a pool of committed volunteers under our Earth Helpers programme.

The SEC has also incorporated a new Training & Education arm to provide the people, public and private sectors with the opportunity to develop awareness, knowledge, skills and tools in order to protect and improve our environment for a sustainable future.

Strong partnerships with corporations, government agencies and other NGOs are valued by us. These partnerships are vital for sustaining our programmes, leading to positive action and change. Over the years, SEC has given strength and direction to the environmental movement in Singapore.

About Cheong Poh Kwan
Cheong Poh Kwan is Assistant Director for the Sustainability Programme in the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

She is part of the team that studies the issue of transboundary haze and drives engagement with stakeholders from governments, corporates, NGOs, academia and the media in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. She has organised the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources, haze roundtable, haze exhibition and contributed to the launch of the Haze Tracker website.

Her commentaries on the issue have been published by news outlets including TODAY and The Nation.

About SIIA
The Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is an independent organization dedicated to the research, analysis and discussion of regional and international issues. We aim to make Singapore a more cosmopolitan and global society through research, policy work and public education on international affairs. Founded in 1961 and registered as a membership-based society, we are Singapore’s oldest think tank.

About Karen Sim
Karen is the Conservation Resource Manager at WWF Singapore, part of the new Conservation Resource Unit set up within the organisation to link up the conservation projects in the WWF network and WWF Singapore’s campaigns. She is responsible for developing conservation strategies in key topics for WWF Singapore.

Before joining WWF Singapore, Karen lived in Switzerland where she spent a number of years in the non-profit sector, first with the World Economic Forum as the Community Manager for Asia Pacific and then leaving to pursue her passion in conservation with WWF International’s Tiger’s Alive Initiative. She also worked at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), where she managed projects in sustainability. In Singapore, Karen has experience in the public sector having worked for the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Nature conservation is very much more than a job to her. In her leisure, she enjoys catching up on (even more) environmental news as well as going on nature walks and events. Otherwise, she enjoys growing her own green food, doing a variety of sports, and contributes articles to a conservation careers website.

She has a Masters Degree from Kings College, London in War studies, and is a closet military history buff.

About WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organisations.

Established on 29 April 1961, it was the product of a deep concern held by a few eminent gentlemen who were worried by what they saw happening in our world at that time. Since then, WWF has grown up to be one of the largest environmental organisations in the world.

Today, we have more than 5 million supporters worldwide; and we are present in more than 100 countries to conserve and protect our natural environment.

Gland, Switzerland is the home of WWF International, the secretariat for WWF’s global organisation. Its role is to lead and coordinate the WWF Network of offices around the world, through developing policies and priorities, fostering global partnerships, coordinating international campaigns, and providing supportive measures in order to help make the global operation run as smoothly as it can.

WWF is governed by a Board of Trustees under an International President, Yolanda Kakabadse. Our President Emeritus is HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Image courtesy of Ferina Natasya Aziz.