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Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative 2022 Opening Forum

Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative 2022 Opening Forum

Chairman of Hitachi, Mr Toshiaki Higashihara
Japanese Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Jun Yamazaki
Delegates of the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative
Invited Guests

Good Afternoon

1. Thank you for inviting me to be here with you at the Opening Forum of the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative 2022. It is energising to be amongst our leaders of tomorrow. A warm welcome too, for our overseas delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.

2. The ideas and actions of our youth today will define our future tomorrow. I am confident this year’s theme of Social Innovation in the New Normal will draw out many good ideas and innovative solutions from our youth to address the challenges of our post-pandemic world. I am looking forward to the views and suggestions of the youths on what they envisage our cities in the region could be like in the years to come, and how they hope to secure clean energy and water, as well as improve the quality of life for the next generation.

Riding above the waves

3. In the last two years, we have all been through many disruptions and uncertainty. Across the world, repeated waves of the Covid pandemic threatened lives and jobs, and put the future of young people at risk. The Hitachi Young Leaders’ Initiative is a welcomed and important platform that provides a chance for our youths to demonstrate their resilience and resolve to ride over and above the challenges ahead. We are so grateful for the foresight and vision in organising this initiative for such a long time.

4. Although the worst threats of the pandemic are receding, we continue to face the dangers of new Covid virus variants, rising global inflation and increasing energy costs all over the world. These powerful waves could tip over the fragile balance we are trying to forge in the new normal. Using surfing as an analogy, allow me to share with you three key ways by which we can ride the waves together toward a resilient and sustainable future.

Preparing Ahead

5. The best surfers always prepare in anticipation of the waves ahead. This means getting ready ahead of time and having a plan to overcome challenges. The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals were set to help the world advance and attain the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

6. In Singapore, we have launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which is closely aligned with the UN SDG. This is a whole-of-nation movement to advance our national agenda on sustainable development. It also spells out our goals and plans to transit towards a low-carbon economy and secure a better and greener future for Singaporeans.

7. I look forward to the delegates’ ideas on building sustainable cities, promoting clean energy and water and better health. Singapore has much to learn from the countries and region around us.

Seizing the Moment

8. Another important lesson we can learn from surfing is the ability to "catch the wave”. Seasoned surfers are quick to seize the moment and ‘catch' the wave to ride on its energy and momentum. Having adapted to multiple disruptions in the last few years of the pandemic, I think we are now more flexible and ready to adjust to changes.

9. In Singapore, we have invested much effort and resources into enabling individuals and businesses to transform and pivot to new ways of working and doing business. Since the pandemic, more businesses have digitalised to stay competitive. Some adopted new business models to reinvent themselves for the future to future-proof themselves, while others moved into e-commerce to capture new markets. Singaporeans have also taken the chance to upskill themselves and gain new capabilities to capture emerging opportunities and stay relevant. Covid-19 has taught us also that learning can take place anytime, anywhere.

a. The Singapore Government has supported these efforts through various initiatives, including in the area of sustainability.

b. An example is the Enterprise Sustainability Programme which helps Singapore businesses in their transformation journey towards sustainability. This is a S$180 million programme provides support for training workshops, capability and product development, and certification and financing. The Government also worked with our local banks to provide
green financing solutions. For example, we helped Sunseap to secure
S$85 million green funds which supported the installation solar panels on the rooftop of our public housing. Solar power is important, but we will need to complement it with energy storage. Another company, Durapower, which is heavily involved in energy storage systems, also secured S$7 million of green loans. These are exciting times in the areas of sustainability and energy resilience.

c. To help more Singaporeans enter the promising green economy, the Government is focused on equipping our workforce and young people with the necessary skills in emerging and potential areas of growth. For instance, our Energy Market Authority (EMA) has been working with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to develop Singapore’s first dedicated Electrical Power Engineering undergraduate programme. This will strengthen the talent pipeline for the energy sector and create good jobs for Singaporeans.

Looking Beyond Borders

10. The third lesson from surfing that can help us navigate today’s increasingly complex world is to develop the knack for looking for new places to surf beyond our own shores.

11. By looking beyond our borders, we can capture the many opportunities that lie beyond our borders, especially those in our neighbouring countries. For Singapore, this means continuing to partner with our ASEAN neighbours and countries in the region, while remaining open to the world.

a. At the ASEAN level, we are working closely with the other ASEAN Member States to implement the Framework for Circular Economy and develop an ASEAN Strategy for Carbon Neutrality. We are also exploring practical solutions including opportunities for a regional carbon credits market.

b. In addition, ASEAN as a collective group is also working with its dialogue partners to deepen our cooperation.

i. For example, ASEAN and Japan launched an Economic Resilience Action Plan in July 2020 and are reviewing this ahead of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship in 2023.

ii. The Action Plan has strengthened our cooperation in various areas including supply chain connectivity, trade facilitation, e-commerce, and digital trade.

c. Singapore also collaborates with countries in the region to strengthen our energy resilience. An example of this is the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project which will import up to 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable hydropower using existing interconnections. It marks the first multilateral cross-border electricity trade involving four ASEAN countries.

12. I urge all youths to forge friendships and partnerships and to stay in touch even after the programme ends. We all need each other to overcome the challenges ahead. Singapore will continue working hard to remain a reliable and trusted partner as we look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with our ASEAN neighbours and countries in the region.

Toward a Sustainable & Resilient Future

13. I hope these three lessons of preparing ahead, seizing the moment, and looking beyond our borders will enable us to overcome challenges, ride new waves of opportunity, and emerge even stronger.

14. I trust that the youth leaders in this initiative are here because they recognise the power within them to improve their circumstances and make a difference in their country and society. You have pro-actively sought out platforms like the well-established Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative where you have a chance to showcase your novel ideas and solutions for today’s challenges. With your fresh perspective and energy, the possibilities of positive action and change to create a sustainable and resilient future are tremendous.

15. I wish you all the best as you embark on your journey to build a better and brighter world in the new normal for future generations.

16. Thank you.

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