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International collaboration needed for sustainable development: DPM Heng
OFFERING business opportunities such as new infrastructure development, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) is one example of how Singapore can partner other countries to pursue sustainable development, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said on Friday morning.
He was speaking to some 800 delegates at the FutureChina Global Forum, organised by Business China and part of Ecosperity Week.
Collaboration between nations was one of three broad ways that Mr Heng laid out for working towards a sustainable future, along with enabling all societal sectors to contribute, and grooming the next generation of talent and leadership.
The world is facing major challenges in sustainable development that, if not properly handled, "could potentially unravel the progress that the world has made over the past few decades", he said, highlighting the two areas of tackling climate change and economic development.
To address these, countries can work together on projects such as the GBA and the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition, of which Singapore's Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli is a co-chair.
Countries can also do their part in international efforts, for instance by achieving their emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement.
Secondly, all sectors of society - government, businesses and individuals - can help in this effort, said Mr Heng. He cited moves such as government funding for sustainability-related research, the growth of private capital for green projects, and individual recycling efforts.
Thirdly, there is a need to develop next-generation talents and leaders who are committed to building a sustainable future, and strengthening people-to-people ties in the region.
Mr Heng noted that Business China has been placing emphasis on this, with the first Business China Youth Forum that afternoon bringing together young leaders from Singapore and China for discussions on sustainable development.
Former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon similarly stressed the need to tackle climate change, saying: "We have been talking a lot but now is the time to take action." Addressing climate change would help in achieving the UN's 16 other sustainable development goals, said Mr Ban, president and chair of the Global Green Growth Institute.
Fu Hua, Communist Party of China Guangdong Committee standing committee member and director-general of publicity, said Guangdong can be a role model for sustainable development in China. He highlighted the province's innovation-driven, low-carbon growth strategy, and its commitment to openness as key for sustainable development.
Also held on Friday were the Business China Awards, organised by Business China and jointly presented by OCBC Bank. They honour individuals and enterprises for contributions to Singapore-China relations, as well as promoting bilingualism and biculturalism in Singapore.
This year's winners were:
- Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre chairman and Ho Bee Group chairman and chief executive officer Chua Thian Poh;
- National University of Singapore's Master in Public Administration and Management Programme, for "deepening academic and cultural exchanges between Singapore and China";
- Unihearts International Education board chairman and CEO James Ke Hongjing, who brought Singapore-style preschool education to China and led ground-up efforts to help young new immigrants assimilate into Singapore's culture.