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Sustainable development a priority for S’pore: PM Lee

A top-level panel of ministers has been formed to chart the way forward, he says

IN DAVOS

PURSUE economic growth, but with an eye on the Earth.

Going forward, sustainable development will be a priority for Singapore – and a top-level panel of ministers has been formed to chart the way forward.

On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, where he will today take part in a key session on climate change, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Singapore reporters that an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development will be looking into drawing up a holistic sustainable development strategy for Singapore.

The need to be environmentally friendly is patently clear, ‘but at the same time, we don’t want to have to sacrifice economic growth’, he said. Hence the premise and promise of sustainable development – to ‘grow in an environmentally friendly way, where you build into your whole development strategy an awareness of the environment, of conservation, of efficiency, so that your buildings use less energy for air conditioning, your public transport is convenient and people use public transport instead of driving cars’.

While there are no plans to levy any carbon tax, Mr Lee would not rule it out entirely, but emphasised the need to be mindful about cost and competitiveness, particularly in imposing any regulatory requirements that effectively add to business costs.

The committee is co-chaired by Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim. Other members include Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Transport Minister Raymond Lim and Minister of State for Trade & Industry S Iswaran.

A joint statement by MND and MEWR says the committee will, for a start, ‘articulate a clear national framework and strategy to achieve a sustainable and high-quality living environment that is consistent with economic growth’.

It will also seek to build new competencies and encourage mind-share across the public, private and people sectors to develop Singapore as an ‘Eco-Hub’ – ‘an innovative thought-centre and hub for urban and environmental sustainability’.

Noting that Singapore is already a model of urban planning, Mr Lee said that if Singapore’s efforts on sustainable development are successful, it will spell one more area of expertise that it can share with other countries.

Mr Lee arrived in Davos on Wednesday afternoon from Paris, where he had been on a three-day official visit. In Davos yesterday, he had a busy day of meetings with various people, including US Deputy Secretary of Treasury Robert Kimmitt; former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Harvard professor Larry Summers, as well as UBS chairman Marcel Ospel and Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

 

Source: Business Times 25 Jan 08

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