At this week’s Ecosperity 2017 conference, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Mr Teo Chee Hean shared how Singapore has balanced economic, social, and environmental priorities to achieve sustainable development. Below is an excerpt of his speech.

Teo Chee Hean, Singapore's deputy prime minister and coordinating minister for natural security, shares Singapore's sustainable development story at the Ecosperity 2017 conference, organised by Temasek. Image: Temasek


Since the 1970s, economic development has helped to lift billions of people out of poverty. Social indices of human development such as healthcare and education have improved significantly.

But this progress is not even, and important challenges remain. Social inequality, education and work opportunities for women, and youth unemployment are still areas of concern for many countries.

Rising populism and protectionism in several advanced economies, technological disruptions, and new transnational security and pandemic threats add more complexity and uncertainty to health, safety, and development.

Our environment is also under stress. Since 1972, the world population has grown from 3.8 billion to 7.3 billion in 2015, and is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050. More than 54 per cent of the global population already lives in urban areas.

Access to clean air, clean water, power, and sanitation are challenges in many countries. Low-lying coastal communities such as Singapore are also more vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.

Individuals, companies, countries, and the global community will need to work together to develop solutions for sustainable development.

Read more: The four pillars of Singapore’s sustainable development success


Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said firms that comply with the new rules will benefit from long-term cost savings.

Changes to the Energy Conservation Act, passed in Parliament yesterday, mean large polluters here will have to step up their green efforts, or face enhanced penalties.

Companies will have to adopt a structured measurement and reporting system for their greenhouse gas emissions - a move which will pave the way for the carbon tax scheme the Government plans to impose from 2019.

Read more: Big polluters to face heftier fines


From 2019, emitters of greenhouse gases will be taxed for every tonne of gas they release into the air, sending a price signal to power stations and large emitters to reduce their carbon footprint, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Feb 20).

Read more: Carbon tax to be imposed from 2019 to cut greenhouse gas emissions


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