On Day 4 of the National Young Leaders Fellowship Induction Programme, we had the honour of having Mr. Heng Li Seng, Founder of Green Nudge, Prof. Jeff Obbard, Head of Climate Impacts, Centre for Climate Research Singapore, Ms. Farah H. Sanwari, Co-Founder of FiTree and Ms. Valerie Lee, Head of Corporate Affairs (Singapore & Southeast Asia) Sembcorp Industries as our guest speakers. The plenary topic was ‘Leading Towards A Sustainable Future’.

In the session’s opening statement, the panellists introduced themselves by sharing their background and elaborated on how they founded their respective organisations. They discussed the challenges and situations that shaped them into the people they are today. Ms. Lee shared that throughout her life, she learned that change is the only constant, and it is vital to adapt to change or opportunities. Ms. Farah also shared the importance of employing positive mindsets, such as adaptability and future-oriented thinking, which she considers essential in this ever changing society.

During their sharing, the fellows expressed concerns about Singapore’s future, particularly in the field of climate change. They questioned whether profit-driven companies would hinder climate change efforts. Ms. Lee assured them that a lot has been talked about in the past few years and that firms are moving towards sustainable methods like renewable energy, as compared to conventional methods of using oil and gas. Furthermore, she pointed out that such changes actually help firms profit rather than lose, which is why they will support moves towards sustainability.

To add to this, Prof. Jeff stated that decisive action needs to ensure that many countries meet the Paris Agreement, which is a driving force for many firms. He also suggested that youths entering the workforce could be trained to perform carbon audits*, as this could reduce Singapore’s carbon emissions by 2 million tons as well as save 1 billion dollars.

As the session came to a close, a final question from the fellows was posed by Mr. Heng, the panel moderator, asking the speakers to describe their visions of Singapore in 2050. Prof. Jeff answered by saying that if everyone plays their part, it is possible that Singapore can become fully carbon neutral in the future. Ms. Lee ended the session stating that she feels optimistic about Singapore’s future as she believes that the youths hold the key to this success.

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Note: *A carbon audit, sometimes referred to as a ‘carbon footprint’, is a means of measuring and recording the GHG emissions of an organization or building within a defined system boundary.