“Is sustainability still possible?” That was the question posed by the inaugural Sustainability+ dialogue, jointly organized by the NUS Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) committee and NUS Environmental Law Students Association (ELSA).
It was heartening to see participants from a diverse array of disciplines including life science, arts and social sciences, law, engineering, dentistry, environmental studies and liberal arts (Yale NUS). Indeed, sustainability is not merely a buzzword in the media; it is a concept relevant and pertinent to many different fields nowadays.
The dialogue began with an opening keynote speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Second Minister for National Development, who gave many insights into Singapore’s sustainability master plan and answered queries about sustainability in the context of Singapore from a governmental perspective. Participants were then allocated to focus group discussions covering 6 aspects of environmental sustainability: biodiversity conservation, environmental education, environment in civil society, green cities, renewable energy and the future economy.
During the engaging discussions, participants raised issues such as the circular economy and capitalism, biodiversity loss in Singapore, environmental education in an era of disruptive changes and uncertainties, transportation as a key in establishing greener cities etc. And true to the event’s theme, participants were encouraged to bring their own utensils for the networking tea in a bid to be more environmentally-friendly.
The session concluded with a panel discussion featuring panelists Dr Jenson Goh, Ms Melissa Low and Mr N. Sivasothi. Participants brought up questions ranging from environmental activism in Singapore to international environmental agreements, to which the panelists offered their personal experiences and work insights. A student, in particular, asked about how we can keep up with new environmental (or general) legislation passed in Singapore, which is definitely a useful skill for many of us. [Tip: if you would like to be kept in the loop about new laws and policies in Singapore, you can simply subscribe to the RSS feeds on the various agencies’ websites.]
The event provided a safe and friendly platform for the NUS population to share their opinions and concerns about the environment regardless of the amount of knowledge or expertise they might have. In this sense, it is comforting to know that there are many who do care for the environment. Perhaps it also highlighted that the concern of environmental sustainability should not be limited to those in environmental-related occupations and fields; it is a shared responsibility that affects each and every one of us on this planet. As a participant in the event, I am immensely grateful to the organizers from BES and ELSA, as well as the guest speakers and participants for the enjoyable session!
Written by Yu Lin (Y2 NVG)