Inter-University Environmental Conference (IUEC) 2022 – Conversations for change beyond SGP2030 (Perspectives on Energy Reset & City in Nature)

On 9 October 2022 (Sunday), I attended the afternoon session of Day 2 of the Inter-University Environmental Conference 2022. It is the largest youth-led sustainability conference in Singapore, jointly organised by students from the 8 major universities of Singapore.

The 2-day conference features 5 panel dialogues with representatives from 5 ministries, academics, and youth leaders to advance conversations about SG Green Plan 2030. (Picture credit: IUEC2022 Partnerships Team)

The conference facilitates focus group discussions, open debates and exhibitions with government representatives, youth leaders from our favourite organisations, and fellow participants.

The Conference Partnerships Team has kindly provided their bite-size booklet on all we need to know about the SG Green Plan.

During the Energy Reset dialogue, over 40 questions were asked by members of the audience for the panel speakers to answer.

The questions asked at the Energy Reset dialogue include the following:

Anonymous
How will Singapore decarbonize the economy that’s so reliant on $ from fossil fuels while we’re shifting away from using them ourselves?

Anonymous
how can singapore take accountability for the emissions it facilitates but isnt directly responsible for (e.g. refineries, airport)?

Anonymous
Nuclear power has become exponentially more safe and, in the near future, can become more compact. Does/should it have a future in Singapore?

Anonymous
Cross Island Line will be built under Central Water Catchment? Thoughts?

Anonymous
Singapore is considering nuclear energy. Do you think the market will consider nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels (which are cheaper)?

Anonymous
is there any way we can pursue electrification without increasing demand for extractive, harmful mining practices around cobalt, lithium etc?

Anonymous
Is there room for nuclear power in singapore?

Anonymous
Has Singapore figure a solution for recycling solar panels that are implemented in the solarnova project

Anonymous
Why is nuclear fusion not currently used in the electrical energy generation industry ?

Anonymous
With Singapore’s current reputation as a massive oil hub, how can we become a profitable renewable energy hub with quick reduction on fossil fuel dependence?

Anonymous
How is the research and development for fusion reactors in Singapore?

Anonymous
it seems like energy reset will cause a significant impact on marine life, is there a way to go about energy reset without impacting biodiversity?

Anonymous
Are there solid plans for Singapore to de-emphasize car-based transport infrastructurally?

Anonymous
What needs to be done to mine lesser minerals to prevent exploitaton of Least Developed Countries by Developed Countries to achieve their climate goals?

Anonymous
Are there enough actions to incorporate solar into our electricity mix (XT’s not-pofma slide showed 3%), and what more can we do?

Anonymous
Electric bus fares are rising with other public transports. How can we encourage less carbon when fewer people are willing and able to pay for public transport?

Anonymous
German policy of $9 a month for trains feasible for SG?

Anonymous
Will hydropower be used in Singapore?

Anonymous
If dont import energy then get from where hah

Anonymous
Apart from taking public transport, how can individuals make a difference?

Anonymous
Is there any other alternative to making electric batteries? Since it does have negative impacts on the environment too (ocean pollution)

Anonymous
What are some of the strategies for demand reduction of energy?

Anonymous
How is SG handling the waste generated from the lithium batteries of EVs?

Anonymous
Why dont we dig up landfills to extract materials

Anonymous
Should reduction of energy (on industrial levels especially) have a bigger role in this conversation?

Anonymous
Is SG’s efforts to make the air-con more efficient? Eg, the bldg is so cold today & temp can be adjusted so that less energy is used & everyone feels comfotable

Anonymous
How can the government push for industries to reduce their energy use since they contribute the most? (edited)

Anonymous
Do you think investing in asteroid mining for resources would be a good alternative to mining for resources?

Anonymous
Seems like usage of energy is also a matter of choosing the less evil. In your opinion, what is that ‘less evil’ we can pursue more aggressively?

Anonymous
What are some ways the public transportation sector can increase efficiency and lower emissions in SG?

Anonymous
Does reducing our energy demands mean that progress as a whole country will be stunted for a bit given that there will be a transition phase which takes time

Anonymous
Technology is used to improve energy efficiency, but technologies are also the culprit of carbon emissions e.g. Data Centre, how do we strike a balance?

Anonymous
how do we change social paradigms that value and encourage private car ownership?

Jimmy
How will we prioritise forest conservation since extracting minerals for making electric vehicles etc via mining has environmental and human rights concerns?

Anonymous
are there any corporate governing bodies that could set net zero targets for shipping or energy usage?

Anonymous
Another environmental impact of EVS is the battery recycling. Does Singapore have a plan for that?

Anonymous
What can MOT do to encourage cycling as a mode of transport, like in some European countries?

Anonymous
What Singapore have done in energy reset? what can the youth do to make It better way for Singapore

Anonymous
What about tidal energy?

Anonymous
There are studies being conducted for the cross island line, on how it would affect the nature there, and it seems like it wouldn’t as it would be built deeper

Up next is a series of talks by panel speakers, Dr Shawn Lum, Mr Syazwan Majid and Mr Tan Kiat How, who offered various perspectives about Singapore as a City in Nature.

“City in Nature – The Orang Pulau Perspective” shared by indigenous islander Mr Syazwan Majid, Wan’s Ubin Journal

For example, we learnt that Singapore is more than just an island nation, for we are a nation of islands.

We also learnt about the plan by the Ministry of National Development (MND) for transforming Singapore into a City in Nature, with the help of community stewardship.

During the open debates at the foyer, the participants wrote their answers to pertinent questions about nuclear energy, forest conservation, and so on.

One of the questions at the open debates is:

“Should Singapore immediately halt all clearing of forests and large expanses of land (eg Dover forest/western catchment)?”

I wrote one of my answers as follows:

“Quality of green spaces matters, in terms of ecosystem services, biodiversity, ecological connectivity, etc (not just quantity), so forest conservation must be done in tandem with the one million tree planting programme.”

During the City in Nature dialogue, over 50 questions were asked by members of the audience for the panel speakers to answer. These questions include:

Anonymous
what are the various panelists’ opinions on otters and what actions should we take in response to the increasing prevalence of otters related interactions?

Anonymous
The key targets of the SG green plan mostly focuses on green spaces. Will there be more commitment to protect our blue spaces as well?

Anonymous
How do you negotiate between building new green spaces (e.g. the parks you mentioned) and keeping existing spaces (e.g. Dover Forest)?

Anonymous
How can cultural preservation work hand-in-hand with the city in nature movement?

Anonymous
Biophillia is great but what about making this functional i.e. biodiversity value of the space, ecosystem service valuation?

Anonymous
Do you think culture can be a double edged sword, and we should denounce certain activities we deem unsustainable, or should we trust it throughout ?

Anonymous
Hello! Do you think that planting multi-tier roadside verges will increase the chances of roadkill/wildlife-vehicle collisions?

Anonymous
what are consequences of focusing too much on tangible benefits of nature and ecosystem services? good for humans =/= good for wildlife

Anonymous
Is there space for indigenous people in Singapore?

Anonymous
Why don’t we talk about indigenous practises more in mainstream narratives of sustainability and living harmoniously with nature

Anonymous
How is “nature” being defined in City of Nature?

Anonymous
What can urban designers/ planners learn from indigenous ecological knowledge?

Anonymous
Are strips of park connectors, high-rise bound urban parks, and limited ecological complexity suffice in the greater plan of ecological connectivity?

Anonymous
What’s the definition of a park? Some “parks” are just one tree one bench one path

Anonymous
Is de-urbanization possible? Why look for nature based solutions instead of stopping the problem…

Anonymous
how can we bring singaporean to be more appreciate /self awareness more nature around us.

Anonymous
I work with architects, when they plan for nature areas, they ask ‘why care about the animals? They add no value to people’? How will we change this mindset?

Anonymous
What is your definition of nature? (edited)

Anonymous
will history/social studies in school change to teach young sgeans abt our indigenous roots?

Anonymous
Many of the forested areas are cleared for developmental purposes(e.g. punggol for housing) How can these tree cover be brought back in the now developed areas?

Anonymous
what plans are there for older buildings to integrate into nature (not just new-build ones to have green walls)?

Anonymous
Is there more or less native species in Singapore over the years?

Anonymous
Why not instead of greenery only, we can include farms ?

Anonymous
There is a concern for animals being extinct in the near future due to climate change and it’s effects. What work can we do to prevent this from happening?

Anonymous
Are we going to continue exterminating bees when green corridors attracting more bees to build hives closer to residents. Bee are Keystone species to ecosystem.

Anonymous
Otter populations will self regulate, pls otter-proof your house if you want to keep koi or other fishes

Anonymous
This building is an example of so much Aircon. Are we making any progress in this regard?

Anonymous
How can we encourage biophilia and expand parks while developing and our remaining secondary forests? How can we negotiate this tension?

Anonymous
Can we relocate beehive instead of exterminate by releasing toxic chemicals? How can we manage wild bees in a more sustainable way?

Anonymous
Will we consider reduced or negative economic growth to reduce the land use pressures?

Anonymous
Is there a possibility of mandating private developers and HDB to educate potential buyers of possible wildlife conflict in the area?

Anonymous
Are there any plans for food forests?

Anonymous
beyond gardens and parks, what interactions w nature will singaporeans have in the future?

Anonymous
How big of a priority do you think it is to maintain local biodiversity in its development journey? Considering land use for energy, defence, industrial etc

Anonymous
Some spaces are slated for development in a long time, but these secondary forests become homes for many wildlife. How do we mitigate the loss of these wildlife

Anonymous
Is there any available effort for sustainable fishing and harvesting practices?

Anonymous
Why do we need to exterminate bees when we can humanely rehoming them? They are important to our ecosystem?

Anonymous
Can we focus on conserving forests instead of just planting trees, as research shows 10 ha of forests can cool over 300 m, while rooftop gardens only up to 4 m?

Anonymous
How do you prepare people to live in our city in nature, including certain lifestyle adjustments they may have to make.

Anonymous
Does Singapore can achieve 100% greenery country in earth?

Anonymous
Can more people be taken through green spaces and nature on their commute to work or school? For example, MRT lines or shuttle routes going through them, quietly

Anonymous
what can sg’s current aquaculture R&D efforts learn from orang laut/other indigenous fishing practices?

Anonymous
Why is the EMMP tossed out the window when the development phase reaches landscapers and architects?

Anonymous
Other than ecosystem services, can we shift to value the biodiversity in a less-human centric manner?

Anonymous
As we become a city in nature, there will be many more encounters with wildlife. How can we manage potential human wildlife conflicts? (edited)

Anonymous
Why we cannot stick to nature rather than investing new technologies? By reducing, we can rather not use the technologies like before.

Anonymous
Would you consider more co-living typologies to reduce the need to develop land for residential buildings?

Anonymous
Is there any recent examples of Singapore heritage construction techniques embedded in modern real estate projects?

Anonymous
how do Singapore implement more VIA project or activities to spreading awareness of importance of city in nature

Anonymous
But bringng about green takes a lot of time. Eg, to grow trees. Is there anything that can be done?

Anonymous
By 2023 will there be more planting over the HDB flats? What can we expect by 2023 for City of Nature?

Anonymous
how to Singapore bring closer to children to let them know what’s is the important of greenery country.

Anonymous
With more natural green spaces, can there be more danger posed to people passing through, especially at night?

Anonymous
Can we conserve 50% of Tengah forest as it connects western and central catchment areas & has critically endangered species like pangolins, so to avoid ecocide?

Anonymous
How may we discern between real housing “needs” (eg long term homes) and superficial housing “wants” (eg selling BTO upon meeting 5-year MOP for quick profits)?

Kudos to the youths for organising and participating in this landmark environmental conference. May it inspire many positive changes to be made for our environment, flora and fauna, and ultimately our well-being.

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