Insights on sustainability: a conversation with Chan Heng Chee (5/6)

MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I think it would be really fun for parties first to exactly get a little bit more of a feeling of you and your background. So “youre wearing” two hats as a social scientist and a diplomat. CHAN HENG CHEE: Three hats. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Three hats? OK, good. I want to hear about all the hats. Can you tell us how that came to be? CHAN HENG CHEE: I wear three hats. I am a social scientist. I’m a political scientist.My orbit of research and study and teaching when I was teaching was political and social change, evolution. So the move to cities was very natural, so social science municipalities. And I became a diplomat. I was Ambassador to the United People and later on, became Singapore’s ambassador to Washington. Since coming home, I’m still an ambassador halftime. I’m at a university halftime. I lope the Lee Kuan Yew Center for Innovative City. I try to do some experiment as well. And I’m likewise chairman of the National Arts Council. So I have three great portfolios– municipalities, foreign policy, and the arts. And in this generation, young people don’t have a career. They have a portfolio of jobs, and I’m right there. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I desire the portfolio. So can we stay on you for only a instant? I think you’ve been a little meagre. And I’m going to look down to read to make sure because I don’t want to miss anything. You’ve had many firstlies in all those slots as well in addition to the portfolio. First woman head of the NUS political science department, first head of the Institute of Policy Studies, first woman permanent representative to the United Commonwealth, first administrator of the Singapore International Foundation, and how would you say these experiences have influenced your perspective? CHAN HENG CHEE: You know, I do different things, and I is contributing to, extremely the younger members in the audience to try to do different things in your career.There was a study recently by an academic, an American educationist from OSU, Ohio State University, and one from the James Madison University. And they advocated that students who did two majors, two main studies, were much more innovative and creative than students that did one major. So if you do two jobs, you are more creative and inventive. If you do three, it’s even better, if you do four and so on. But I think it does because it forces-out you to think differently, and you draw things together, at least I find I do that naturally. There’s carryover learning from one land to the other. But more importantly, as you work, study, and study and accomplishment, you find the networks you build in one area are systems you can carry to the other area and that really productions is a good one together. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I think this is a great sort of build on what we’ve been hearing today. We’ve been hearing a bit about multiplier outcomes, I’m going to call them. Maybe that’s not the freedom term. But for instance, municipalities as making lots of people together with lots of different types of activities that they have.They’re the sort of crucibles of formation. And I just– turning back to that topic of sustainability in municipalities, we just heard a lot about different perspectives on who’s doing what. Can I ask you, who among the countries is doing a really good job? I mean, undoubtedly, we’ve just learned amazing things that are going on in Singapore and some others. And what are maybe some of the commonalities of them being able to do a good job on sustainability or not being able to do a good job? CHAN HENG CHEE: Mariette, I’ve asked myself why do some countries get it or some municipals get it and some don’t? And I think some cities and countries get it because it’s inevitability. It’s existential. You’ve heard a great deal about Singapore. There’s an existential reason. I look at the Scandinavians, and they’ve always intrigued me. They always get wise right. First in the class, top three in every higher-ranking and especially on sustainability.And you have to ask yourself why? And I think it is because of necessity. It is existential. I symbolize, it’s extremely coldnes in the Scandinavian countries– Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark. Denmark a little warmer, perhaps. And there’s just field of wilderness in those targets. So they really have to come together. And I’ve been read up on Scandinavians because I’m interested in community life. Why beings do behavior. Why they do what they do? And social relations are very important in these communities. When it’s so cold and you’re just there. At nighttime, you’re clustered in the same place, you know? So social relations is very strong. They’re likewise particularly pragmatic, and they have to deal with the cold. So they meditate sustainability. And they do is a good one on the happiness indicator very because they are socially a great community.And so I’d like to create some of that. I hope that members will organize some of that in Singapore. So that’s at one level. The demand, existential reasons force you to be sustainable and so you work at it. And Finland has done quite a bit. I was looking at a Yale Center study on– they grade Finland transcends. And they have actually a map of benchmarks. They are like KPIs and bureaucrats look at it. Decision manufacturers look at it. Enterprises look at it.Every four years, they revamp it. So they calibrate themselves. But the other reason why countries get it is because of catastrophes. I think so many of you would have realise Netflix’s The Crown. Winston Churchill got it with the Great London Fog. At first, it was just a fog. It will go away. It will go away. Well, it didn’t go away, this cloud. And people died. Thousands died. I realized a digit of four, 000. But then “youve had” the Clean Air Act in Great Britain. That’s 1952, the smog. And then 1956 Clean Air Act and Britain has revamped that ordinance, you know? China– China is now getting it, and it’s a little bit of that epiphany too, like Britain. I think it had occurred in 2014, when they had this great severe smog in Beijing, which just caused this great break, you are well aware. And Xi Jinping, in the 19 th Party Congress that happened last year, in fact, had a whole chapter on environment, a entire region on environment. And I couldn’t believe it, the statement. A Chinese chairwoman said– what is it now? Humans must obey– must observe– sorry, complied with by. Human beings must respect nature and obey the laws of nature. Any expense we impose on mood will come back to haunt us eventually. I intend, that’s a great statement, you know? And I reckon I understand now, they’ve strengthened enforcement. They’ve direct contamination supervisors out to the countryside. So China’s getting it because I repute the legitimacy of the Communist party’s rule depends on their ability to deliver a good environment, food safety. Lead poisoning is killing people in areas. So the Chinese have become very sustainable and exceedingly aware of being sustainable and conscious of the environment. And I believed they now are sort of making some of the lead in climate change, which with the departure of the United States– I’m sorry.I shouldn’t say retirement. With the announcement of the United Commonwealth to leave the Paris Agreement that has created a bit of a vacuum-clean. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Yeah, I mull these are very interesting and useful judges of this idea of a matter of urgency, even of crisis. A level– CHAN HENG CHEE: Oh, I should contribute too, sorry. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Yeah, go ahead. CHAN HENG CHEE: We’ve been battling with the mist from Indonesia. In 2015, it was really a very bad haze in the region. And it didn’t merely stumbled Singapore and Malaysia. It hit Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia. It precisely travelled around the region. And President Joko Wi did a very good thing, to his ascribe. He went out to the areas. He identified the anguish in Sumatra.And beings died. Some parties died. So now Indonesia is working at it, and I think they are stepping up to work on controlling the haze pollution and dealing with the petroleum spout fellowships. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I want, yeah. So I’d like to follow on with this. Obviously, a sense of crisis or hurry and find beings in pain or even dying can be a handy stimulant, but what about regulatory acts or adversities? Why is it sometimes just so hard for some countries, and I’ll employed mine as an example now, to incorporate research into their thinking and evidence-based into their gues? CHAN HENG CHEE: Oh, regulatory procedure– why is it so hard to incorporate research in planning? MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Yeah, in planning. Why? CHAN HENG CHEE: Allow me to begin by being critical of ourselves, the professors. I think we have to produce results or produce study that can be usable.First, it has to be usable. It has to be policy relevant. I often say to my colleagues in the Lee Kuan Yew Center for Innovative Cities and in SUTD that when we come out with the research results, we have to be careful that it’s not something that’s not relevant. So I think we’ve got to find that kind of research. But there are always strong interests in a country. And interests can stop regulation from implemented in order or the right regulation fashioned. Now, Singapore is introducing a carbon tax. We announced it this year. Next year, we will have a carbon tax I know there was a lot of consternation in business amongst business people before that. So it made us a while to sort of get this together. And I think there was a lot of consultation with business. Now everybody’s on board, so it’ll come on next year.So if you say, why is it so difficult for regulations to come, to be brought up, the title regulations? Some countries have very deep interests that can stand in the way, potent interests, in the way of regulation. And then you’ve got– and I don’t know. Countries have an economy to run. They have to feed beings. So I think you have to bear that in sentiment extremely. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Yeah. Know I suspects one possible solution would be the bottom-up approach of getting parties in the public roused so they put pressure back on those interests, perhaps. CHAN HENG CHEE: I think they– yes, that would be one. But I’m a political scientist. I’m a diplomat.So I get both sides of the picture. Governments have to create jobs, and they have to get the economy extending. They’ve got to get onto right on sustainability too. You hope you never have to really realize the choice, but sometimes, know some hand-picked is necessary or you have to slow down that progress. And I belief these are the realities that politicians have to meet, even if they get it and they just wanted to do the right thing.MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Well, while we’re on that topic of politicians and you’d create the Paris Agreement. I wonder what you’re perhaps expecting there? What can we expect to see? CHAN HENG CHEE: We wouldn’t be really discussing the Paris Agreement in the United Nation if director Donald Trump did not, last year– I think it was in June, shortly after he came in– see the edict, which he predicted he would meet, that he would make the United States out of the Paris Agreement. But let me soon add here that the United Commonwealth is still, at the moment, in the Paris Agreement because you cannot pull out of the Paris Agreement– no state party can withdraw from the Paris Agreement before the agreement has entered into force for three years. Now, the Paris Agreement became effective in 2016. So it is only in 2019 that the United Country can actually withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and it went into effect merely in 2020. But I think it’s in time for President Trump to go to the electorate to say I told you I would pull out, and I plucked out before the 2020 poll. But it’s not good word because the United District is the largest economy in the world, is the second largest carbon emitter in the world. And it promised to pay$ 3 billion to the climate fund, and it’s paid out$ 1 billion. It’s$ 2 billion short-lived. So how do you persuade– I guess developing countries were going to sign up because they felt that they would be get some assistance to fulfill the goal. So that’s one of the problems. But the good news is that COP2 4 will be happening. Poland is going to host it. And even though President Trump has said he’s going to pull out, I think some 160 million Americans from cities and states and jobs are committed to fulfill those goals. I think if the United District does not show up as a state party to the COP, all of the other people can go and attend the meetings.And they can go, but they are not state parties. But I think it will carry on. Macron has held his One Planet Summit this year, and different countries are hosting likewise the atmosphere meeting. So the conversation goes on. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I’m glad you– that is a great segue, actually, to my next question for you. So where nations sometimes miscarry, we is in relation to metropolis to look for progress to get us there for the future. Metropolitans are often thought of as supervisors or operators of change in sustainability spheres. I wondered, first of all, do you agreed to accept that? And if you do, how can municipalities do a better responsibility? CHAN HENG CHEE: We discover a great deal about that earlier on. And the Deputy Mayor– was it from Melbourne? He’s made a very ambitious statement.He says commonwealth moods, they stop. They don’t have a strategic vision. But metropolitans can have a strategic vision. That surprised me because mayors have to go through elections too, just like politicians. And actually, I learned through another job I did that Latin american states mayors in some Latin American metropolis can only run for one call. It’s four years. So they can come back again, but it cannot be a second consecutive expression. So I recollected, how do you have a vision if it’s just four years? So that’s a problem. But I think if you look at metropolitans which have been successful and implemented plans and strategic plans, they are metropolitans with mayors who have been there a long time– Richard Daley, Chicago; Michael Bloomberg in New York; Mayor Park Won-soon, Seoul, simply won the Lee Kuan Yew City Prize, he’s into his third term.And I think Los Angeles has a mayor who’s been there quite a long while. So and Singapore is very successful because you attend connection of strategic plans. It’s the same government, you know? So I think there’s something to be said about continuity. Now, is the city the place for the strategic plan on nations? I think they go through the same blockage of the election. So you’re as tactical as four years, I suspect, you are well aware? But it is true that metropolitans’ mayors, they are agents of change. They behave fact. It’s where the shoe pinches. Citizens come up and tell them they have to deliver. So they are good operators, especially if you are in a country where there’s gridlock in government. But there are limits also to what municipalities can do. So as a political scientist, I will say metropolis cannot signed free trade agreements. And if your own country has sanctions on another country, you can’t conduct business. And I review metropolitans in the United Nation pointed out that out when– is this used? This is not.Good. Metropolis in the United Country found out that when they tried to do business with– oh, sorry. Some of them tried to do business with Myanmar. They observed it very difficult because the United Country sanctioned Myanmar. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: Right. I can imagine. And by the way, I’m going to come to everybody in the audience to give you a chance to ask questions, more, in a minute. I can imagine that city’s power to make change is not infinite, and their size is not infinite. And of course, they do have to obey national rules. But you actually wrote an paper for us at Scientific American about recommendations you would obligate to help municipals be more successful.And you had a couple of really nice, clear-cut patches of suggestion, which I’d cherish it if you would share. CHAN HENG CHEE: I was asked to write a piece, like a curtain raiser or make it relevant for the World City Summit. So my segment was on what can municipals do to be sustainable? And I had three recommendations. One is to have a vision or a action plans. And I was so glad to hear all the mayors and the leaders all saying that you need a dream. Secondly, I said you need an institutional and legal framework. And they also said that. You need the laws. You need the existing legislation ready there to help you facilitate and that includes creating a bureaucracy also. And thirdly, I recalled peer-to-peer learning was extremely important. You have C40 today. In happening, I’m looking at this idea that there’s something called urban diplomacy. That cities promotion municipals. Cities generate systems. So I have a brand-new list announced metropolitan finesse, and I think that will help municipalities sort of become better metropolis, and they can learn from each other.MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I like this idea of metropolitan finesse. Could I invite anybody in the public if you’d like– now I can ask questions the working day. But if you’d like to ask him yourself, satisfy. And please let us know who you are. MARK THOMAS: Thank you. My name’s Mark Thomas. I’m originally from New Zealand. I contribute a smart cities consulting business, but we’ve been in Singapore now for 18 months, working in China and Malaysia.I’ve got two questions. The first is, I mean, as we are familiar, in the period from 1950 to 2050, the relative population of The americas will halve and the relative person of Asia will redouble. And of course, in economic terms, it’ll be more significant. China will double-faced its GDP in the period 2010 to 2020. I just wonder if we don’t get a bit preoccupied with the present dramas of the US. In New Zealand, we televised The Hobbit. We did the movies. And you’ll recall, in one of those movies, the elves, their duration on Earth came to an outcome, and they sailed off, ironically, to the east. I just wonder, without being too bleak, if the time of America, in fact, is not dissipating? And we’re consumed by the present dramas, but if, in fact, if we take 100 -year view, we know Asia’s rising. And some of these sustainability challenges that we wrestle with, in fact, are actually with that big change in world dynamic will present both different opportunities, different challenges but also different solutions.CHAN HENG CHEE: I didn’t hear much of it because your microphone was too close. Can you simply give me the question? MARK THOMAS: Sure. So genuinely, it’s the reverie we have currently with the US. I think in the context of the growing rise of Asia. So the US and Canada will halve in population words in 100 years. Asia will redouble. And the economy, in fact, will grow even more.So I just wonder if our preoccupation with the US and its withdrawal from multilateralism maybe doesn’t take enough of a sense of the perspective of what’s coming. And so Asia will grow, become more significant in terms of sustainability, both as a challenge and as a solution provider. So it’s your perspective, I belief, on these changes and whether we don’t get a bit very get carried away with Trump sometimes? CHAN HENG CHEE: Asia is dynamic. Asia is growing. And Asia can stretch from Japan to Afghanistan. Some parties will make it at Iran as well. And at the UN, it goes to Turkey, the definition of Asia. I’ve always thought that actually, the central challenge of this century is the growth of China. I think it will be India as well. That’s sort of sleeping, but it is going to be as large-hearted significant challenges as China. We merely haven’t focused on it. And the task of this century is to try to help the world understand and espouse and accept the rise of China and India.In other oaths, big Asian countries that become big powers. And they will consume a lot and the financial resources. But you can’t stop them. Now, they can learn to be more sustainable as the developed countries are also having to learn to be sustainable, but it is there. So regrettably, this is going to be the dynamics of the coming foreign relations. Gathering 1: In your opinion, How do we eschew people just saying sustainability for the sake of it? And is there any lessons, is there any organization to start a discussion to talk about sustainability and stuff like that? CHAN HENG CHEE: Sustainability is overused. AUDIENCE 1: Yes. How do we shun overusing sustainability and render it into something quite meaningless and open-ended? CHAN HENG CHEE: Yes, I think I understand your question. You feel the word “sustainability” is overused. How is impossible to, in fact, represent the definition more real and that parties will find it and cuddle it? Is that your question? Yes. Thank you. Regrettably, “sustainability” has been used over and over again, and you can be desensitized when it’s overused.But I is anticipated that when you see– and today, we are in the world of social media. We are in the world of internet. You will see real-time pictures of what is happening to the world, whether there’s shortage, whether there is flooding. The Arctic’s melting. So I think that will give you a sense that it’s real, that the world is changing. And if you don’t do something about it, it’s not a good target to live. And you’ve been recently seeing– we’ve been meet in the paper a ocean of plastic. We are propelling all this plastic into the sea, the consuming of plastic bottles, plastic bags, et cetera, waste management, yeah? Now, doesn’t that sort of made the shiverings in you and procreate you realize that sustainability is a real thing and it’s not just a word? And it’s going to affect your food chain.It’s not plastic but weather changing and so on, global warming. I recollect sustainability has come to reached us. Today, people say that they have a sense that there’s some sand feel, that there’s advance on the field, that people are getting it. Those who go to the Climate Change Conference say that years ago, it was a formality. Many countries are not going so agitated. But today, they are feeling it is there. And there is ground-up movement everywhere. Citizens want to do it, and they are getting a sense that they’ve got to contribute to sustainability. So I review I’m not so pessimistic. I don’t think it’s overused. I anticipate parties are getting it. Personas are helping us get it, and those discussions are, all over, starting. And especially amongst young people, there is a great sense about what’s going to happen because they will be alive when the world is not so hospitable. Gathering 2: Hi. So actually, somewhat on a same memorandum as to the previous question, mine is predominantly centered around the vernacular that we its utilization and the terms of involvement actually that we use to talk about sustainability and the related issues.Because as you had mentioned, there are indeed this burgeoning sense of participate, both from, let’s say, ground-up parishes, as well as from top politico food chains. But I conceive the reality of the matter is that even amongst conventional society, these are still somewhat child strifes. These are very significant to future development but there are still kind of minor pockets that occur in our populations. So I would like to ask how do you view that such issues can be better communicated in ways that do not rely on our traditional narratives of, let’s say, our huge literature or even, let’s say, our conference proceedings? How do you feel we can better report and on which kinds of media is impossible to better hire practical answers from the ground-up? Thank you. CHAN HENG CHEE: I’m going to take the question to be, how do you best communicate to parties that it is urgent and necessary to be sustainable? Is that a fair summing-up? AUDIENCE 2: Yeah. CHAN HENG CHEE: It would assist if you all would stand because the sound, the acoustics is terrible, yeah? How would we best communicate? If the government or a city is committed to light-green rise, to sustainability, it helps because you can have public education on public service broadcasting to educate but teach in a extremely locking highway through documentaries what is sustainable? I think it is time we tried to put into our academy curriculum something on environment and sustainability.Not fairly schools , not enough education systems embrace that, but I think that should be part of the preparation towards sustainability. How else would you communicate? I conclude citizens, each citizen group, NGO, some are more effective than others, you can do that, you know? You can do cinemas, but sometimes they are a bit boring and a bit preachy. It cannot come across that road. So I cannot now must be considered a good environmental cinema, but maybe people in the gathering can must be considered that. Can you think of a very powerful environmental cinema that effected you to rethink? And that is how I would impart the meaning. NICK CAMPBELL: Hello. Nick Campbell from Nature Research. So I wanted to pick up on the point, the relative roles of cities and countries that you were highlighting before. And too, it was interesting for me determining the last panel session, where we were talking about a very interesting examination of Singapore as a living laboratory and how standard and collaborative the whole situation was there. And it struck me that maybe does Singapore benefit from being both metropolitan and country? And therefore, the great approach that Singapore is doing, how pertinent is that to, say, a similar sized metropoli in China, say, where they have to consider provincial governments and central governments as well as their municipal governments.CHAN HENG CHEE: You are right. Singapore is a city and a state. We’re a city-state. And so it’s double-whammy, you know? You have all the powers of a country, and you can bring it to bear on organizing, planning, and managing the city. Can this be followed? Is the modeling exportable? People have been coming to Singapore to say can we learn from you? Teach us. I am a bit more meagre. I tend to say that maybe we are sui generous. Our model is to our own. But I envisage metropolitans can take ideas and choose and adapted those sentiments for themselves. I thoughts “the worlds largest” teachable thing is that, as someone who does growing, and I do developing studies, I ever said because Japan became it as the first Asian industrialized country, “youve had” the Four Tigers or the Four Dragons following, you are well aware? So it’s that flying geese.If Africa had one very successful development country, others will follow because you get inspired. So if Singapore can, through our city conduct, spur others, they can follow. China cannot imitate. Everything is very different, their own problems. The proportion is different, you know? And in that sense, when the Chinese come to us and say are you able learn us? We certainly scratch our thoughts. And what we’ve done is we did the Sujo project for them. This is building a little Singapore park, industrial park. But we coached software and hardware. We built it, but what was more important was the application, which is planning, making contracts and establishing the contracts reliable and predictable and honoring the contracts.So I visualize metropolis can learn, but they really have to adapt what they learn. And if they are city-states like Singapore, they truly find it’s very helpful to have the strength of the town. But now, mayors are all saying what they have to do is so enormous and the tasks are so great, they want to be further sanctioned. Mayors complain their metropolitans are not adequately entitled, and that’s another debate. MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I think this would be a wonderful debate to have, but regrettably, we’re just about out of time. So I wish to thank you again so much, Heng Chee. And maybe you’ll be able to stay a little bit because in a few minutes, we’ll have the reception.People can come and speak with you more. Thank you. Thank you so much. CHAN HENG CHEE: Thank you.


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