UN Sustainable Development Goals in Action in Singapore

Despite being a very young country, Singapore has always been putting sustainable development as the core to our plans. As a small island state, Singapore has limited land and no natural resources. With that in mind, Singapore has always considered long-term sustainability as one of our main goals to development. Following a vision where nature is integrated into our cities, Singapore aims to create a sustainable city that works in harmony with nature. By making education affordable and accessible for all citizens, Singapore aims to provide youths with a strong start in their life. In addition, Singapore also constantly reviews its health policies in order to support the ageing population. Whether young or old, rich or poor all citizens have access to clean water, quality education and healthcare. While being such a small state with almost no resources hinder our development, Singapore constantly makes progress on the 2030 Agenda.


SDG 1: No Poverty

Aspiring to be a fair, inclusive and caring society, Singapore aims to become a country where people of all backgrounds are provided with equal opportunities and where citizens can look forward to the future with optimism. In order to fulfill such aspiration, Singapore has been introducing initiatives that provide its citizens with quality education, affordable healthcare and subsidised public housing. With the belief that these essentials are needed for a strong and inclusive community. 


SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Less than 1% of Singapore’s land mass is used for agricultural uses. This is due to increasing demand for industrial and residential use. Being an incredibly small island city-state, Singapore’s food supply is mainly imported thus it is susceptible to price fluctuations. Given this problem, Singapore is trying to diversify its import sources while keeping the original ones available. This allows stability in prices even when traditional sources are disrupted. While diversifying its import sources, Singapore also ensures its food stability in times of temporary shortages through stockpiling staples such as rice. In addition, Singapore optimises its local food production with methods such as vertical farming.


SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Ever since the establishment of Agenda 2030, Singapore has accomplished huge feats in healthcare. With the goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well being at all ages, Singapore reviews its healthcare policy and subsidies around the clock in order to provide every citizen with quality healthcare. Thanks to its tireless efforts, striving for the achievement of Goal 3, Singapore managed to successfully reduce the Under-5 Mortality rate from 2.6 per 1000 live births to 2.5 per 1000 live births between 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, tuberculosis incidence also decreased from 38.7 per 100,000 population in 2018 to 34.7 per 100,000 population in 2019.


SDG 4: Quality Education

Singapore’s philosophy towards education is grounded in the belief that the wealth of a nation lies in its people. Education is the first step towards development, as such, Singapore’s education is accessible to all citizens at an affordable price. Providing quality education to all is essential to the accomplishment of the SDGs. Singapore’s education is aimed at providing all children with a solid foundation in which they can build up knowledge and skills throughout their life. On its way to achieve other Sustainable Development Goals, Singapore has managed to reduce the gender disparity in education and ensure access to all gender throughout different levels of education. In 2018, the Gross Enrolment Ratio and Gender Disparity Index was 1.00 for primary level, 0.99 for secondary level and 1.15 for tertiary education. Furthermore, in 2019, the literacy rate of residents over the age of 15 is 98.9% males and 96.1% females, overall 97,5% of the population aged 15 years and over are literate.


SDG 5: Gender Equality

Singapore is fully committed to the advancement of all women and girls. The latest UN Gender Inequality Index ranked Singapore 12th out of 162 countries. Despite this ranking, Singapore is still striving to achieve better results and provide equal opportunities to all citizens irrespective of their gender. Despite challenges presented, the proportion of female residents among managers and administration has increased from 35.2% in June 2014 to 38.9% in June 2019. Even though the disparity between genders among managers and administration is still high, Singapore is trying to promote women’s representation on the boards of companies through the Diversity Action Committee (DAC). Furthermore, the Singapore government is working closely with the Centre for Fathering in catalysing the “Dads for Life” movement which aims to encourage active fathering. By promoting shared responsibility within the household, Singapore is trying to reduce the burden on female residents, helping them to achieve a work-life balance which allows higher women participation in the workforce given the reduction in their domestic responsibilities.


SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Singapore is classified as being water scarce and as the most water-stressed country in the world, according to the World Resources Institute’s 2015 report. Singapore's limited water source is further exacerbated given the small landmass, which limits the capacity to capture and store rainwater. Despite these natural constraints, Singapore has come a long way in achieving universal access to affordable and clean water. By increasing our local catchment areas to ⅔ of Singapore’s land area, in 2019, the percentage of population with access to drinkable water and sanitation was an impressive 100%. 


SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

With no indigenous energy resources and limited options to alternative energy, affordable energy is no easy task for a small and densely-populated city like Singapore. As such, Singapore’s electricity is heavily relying on gas imported from other countries. However, since May 2013, Singapore started to import liquefied natural gas to diversify our energy sources. In order to reduce our carbon emission and adhering to the Paris Agreement on climate change, Singapore has identified solar energy as the most viable clean energy source that can be efficiently deployed locally in terms of cost. Committed to reducing our carbon footprint to reduce the impact of climate change, installed Renewable Energy Generating capacity has increased from 23.5 wac per capita in 2018 to 35.8 wac per capita in 2019.


SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Even Though Singapore has been facing multiple challenges during the course of its development, we have been able to overcome resource constraints as well as increasing regional competition. With the slowing in the local workforce growth, Singapore needs to shift towards productivity-driven growth. Given many companies need to restructure to become more productive in a manpower-lean labour market, many would find it difficult to stay in their present roles. As such, the Ministry of Manpower has introduced the “Adapt and Grow” initiative in 2016 to help workers and job seekers find jobs and “reskill” to enter new job roles. Thanks to these efforts, more than 24,000 individuals managed to find jobs in 2017.


SDG 9: Infrastructure, Industrialisation and Innovation

While making continuous investment in infrastructure for Singaporean citizens, Singapore also managed to efficiently use our scarce resources. Given our population demographic, we are looking to develop new technology that would shift our industrial sector to become less labour-intensive. As such we constantly encourage workers in our industrial sector to upgrade their competency so they can always adapt to the ever-changing labour market of the future. With the help of innovative technologies, Singapore is becoming one of the busiest transportation hubs worldwide.


SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

Mitigating income inequality, ensuring social mobility, and enhancing social integration are key to maintaining Singapore’s social harmony and stability. Education, housing and healthcare are essential to Singapore’s social stability, as such we are working to provide quality education, healthcare as well as housing to all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, religion or age. At the same time, we have introduced more initiatives that target the vulnerable group such as the lower-income and the elderly. With the goal of helping every citizen to move ahead, we will continue to provide citizens with opportunities to develop to their full potential.


SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Since its founding, Singapore has always put long-term sustainability in its core. With the ultimate goal of creating  a city where it is pleasant for Singaporeans to work, live and play. Singapore is working to ensure that at least 80% of our total building gross floor area will be green by 2030. To this end, Singapore launched the BCA Green Mark Scheme in January 2005 to promote resource efficiency and reduce any potential environmental impact in the built environment. As of now, Singapore has come a long way in keeping the air clean for its citizens to enjoy. In 2019, the Annual Mean Level of Particulate Matter is 16 microgram per cubic meter (PM2.5) and 30 microgram per cubic meter (PM 10).


SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production 

Given our resource and land constraints, maintaining a safe living environment with high living standards is no easy task. However, Singapore is committed to providing our citizens with such an environment by  becoming a Zero Waste Nation. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, citizens are constantly encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle. Every year, Singapore generates approximately 60,000 tonnes of ewaste. This number is speculated to increase in the upcoming years, thus applying the 3Rs to Singaporeans lives has become more essential than ever before. By 2021, Singapore aims to implement a mandatory e-waste management framework based on the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).


SDG 13: Climate Action

Climate change is a global issue that every country faces, as such, we all have a responsibility to take action against climate change. This issue poses an even bigger threat for Singapore as a small low-lying island-state. Despite contributing only 0.12% of the world’s total carbon emission, Singapore is committed to take a further step in reducing our carbon emission. In order to meet our pledge under the Paris Agreement, Singapore is actively working to achieve our goal - for 75% of morning and evening peak journeys by 2030, and 85% by 2050, to be on public transport, up from 67% in 2017. Furthermore, Singapore is encouraging collective action among government agencies, individuals, businesses, and the community to reduce carbon intensity.


SDG 14: Life below Water

The fragile marine environment at the doorstep of our city needs to be carefully managed. As a small and highly urbanised city, Singapore is heavily dependent on the waters around us, our coastals and marine areas are heavily utilised for ports operation, ship building and petrochemical industries as well as recreation purposes. Not only does the marine areas play a major role in Singapore’s economy, but it also acts as our country’s only offshore landfill and several aquaculture farms. With such dependence on these areas, it is crucial for us to conserve the marine habitats. As a step to facilitate sustainable use of the marine areas, the Marine Conservation Action Plan (MCAP), which guides our efforts at conserving Singapore’s marine habitats and biodiversity was established. Working with key research partners, Singapore have initiated the following marine species recovery programmes:

• Marine turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata and Chelonia mydas);

• Giant clams (Tridacna squamosa, T. maxima and T. gigas);

• Neptune’s Cup Sponge (Cliona patera); and

• Several locally rare hard and soft coral species.


SDG 15: Life on Land

Since the time of our first Prime Minister, Singapore’s vision was to transform our little island-nation into a Garden City with abundant, lush greenery. Today, Singapore aims to become a biophilic Garden City where the environment contributes to the overall well-being of its citizens. To fulfill our vision, urban biodiversity conservation plays a crucial role in our sustainable development strategy. With this vision in mind, Singapore involves its civil society, including NGOs such as the Nature Society, experts as well as nature enthusiasts in an effort to conserve urban biodiversity. Thanks to the coordinated efforts from different stakeholders, Singapore is able to protect its natural biodiversity while urbanising rapidly.


SDG 16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

Strong institutions are the basis of a stable society. Singapore’s laws do not discriminate on the basis of gender or age. Despite the fact that the law applies to all, we make sure to take the extra measures to protect the most vulnerable segment of society, specifically women and children. Ever Since its establishment, Singapore’s leaders were determined to establish a system of incorruptibility and clean governance. As such, Singapore enforces two major legislations: the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act (CDSA). Today, Singapore enjoys an international reputation as the 6th least corrupt country.


SDG 17: Partnerships

The vision that the Agenda 2030 tries to achieve is not a “one man” job. These global issues that the SDGs are trying to achieve requires commensurate efforts from all stakeholders: governments, corporations as well as citizens. Singapore believes that providing youths and students with knowledge about sustainable development would be the key to long-term sustainability. With this vision, Singapore believes that a sustainable development-orientated mindset amongst our younger generations is important as they will become the future leaders in corporations and government. In addition to raising awareness about SDGs and 2030 Agenda amongst youths, engaging private and non-governmental organizations into sustainable growth would greatly progress our efforts in achieving the SDGs. As such, we have established several public-private partnerships applications of several SDGs alongside with supporting the efforts of other organisations in spreading the message of sustainable development. While our sustainable development initiatives have been government-led, the support of other stakeholders in other sectors has been integral. In the spirit of partnership, Singapore launched the Sustainable Development Programme (SDP) in 2015 to support other developing countries in achieving the SDGs. All in all these issues require attention and the focus of every stakeholder and the only way to achieve our ambitious visions by 2030 is through partnerships.


Want to know more about what you can do to impact the future? At The Global Citizen Education group, we are committed to educate youths about SDGs, allowing them to be more conscious of the world around them as well as helping them to develop a sustainable development-oriented mindset. Through our various programs and events, students will get a thorough grasp of the SDGs while knowing how to make a positive impact on their future.


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