In November 2013, Singapore Technologies Endowment Programme (STEP) partnered with the National University of Singapore (NUS) in an initiative called the STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme, which aims to groom eco-friendly guardians among the youth of Asia. 130 young participants were invited to join this initiative and become champions of environmental protection.
Launched by the Guest of Honour, Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, this weeklong programme saw youths aged 13 to 15, from Singapore, China and India spend time together engaging with environmental experts from around the world, on topics such as climate change, air pollution, biodiversity and sustainability.
Addressing the students at the RELC Auditorium in Singapore, Ms Fu stated that environmental issues couldn’t be solved in isolation, since they do not observe physical and sovereign boundaries. She cited the recent haze problem as an example, and said, “an approach of global inclusion and shared responsibility is needed because the youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and thus they must develop a thorough understanding of the issues.”
To reinforce their commitment to the environment, participants were asked to write and present a paper on an environmental topic. Study visits were arranged to the Tropical Marine Science Institute’s St. John Island Laboratory, Sungei Buloh and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves, NEWater Plant and URA’s City Gallery. Students were also encouraged to do their part to protect the environment by planning an environmental project in their own country.
In the words of one of the participants, Jonathan Chee, 14, from Bukit View Secondary School: “I’d like to know how changes in our climate affect our economy, way of life and food production. I hope this programme will ignite passion in terms of environmental awareness.” 15-year-old Krish Desai from India said he wanted to “venture into research and politics to increase food security and tilt laws in favour of the poor.”
STEP in partnership with NUS plans to continue building environmental champions through this programme in 2014 and beyond.