Protecting and repairing our planet is a shared journey and we all have a part to play.
This was a key takeaway from the youth and community programmes of Earthshot Week which took place from 6 to 10 November 2023 in Singapore. The programmes connected youth leaders and engaged the public to raise awareness of urgent climate and environmental challenges, and how all of us can play a part in tackling them.
Mr. Baey Yam Keng (centre), Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and Ministry of Transport, with participants of the AYLCE programme – organised by Common Purpose and supported by Temasek Foundation.
Temasek Trust, through Temasek Foundation and Temasek Shophouse, is pleased to have supported the youth and community programming of Earthshot Week, in collaboration with Conservation International and Common Purpose. Here’s a quick recap of key highlights:
1. Community outreach events at Temasek Shophouse
Themed “Sustainability & Oceans”, the community engagement events at social impact hub Temasek Shophouse welcomed participants from all walks of life.
The engaging panel discussions with sustainability leaders and changemakers were moderated by Ms. Woo Qi Yun, Science Communicator, The Weird and Wild, and Ms. Kong Man Jing, Co-Founder of Just Keep Thinking. Panellists shared about their innovative solutions, platforms, and experiences, and discussed some of the most exciting developments in the climate space.
Ms. Hannah Jones, CEO, The Earthshot Prize, said that while many of us may feel anxious or overwhelmed about climate change, there is much to be optimistic about, as many groundbreaking solutions are being developed and implemented around the world.
“If you want to put your purpose, passion, and values at the heart of your career, there’s never been a better time to dedicate yourself to creating solutions that could help save the planet,” she added.
Dr. Neo Mei Lin, Marine Ecologist at the NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute, shared about her research interests, which include giant clams and sea urchins. “As a mum, I realise the significance and value of the research I do. My kids have so much potential, I can’t wait for them to grow up and be the next generation of disrupters,” Dr Neo said.
Mr. Roland Wee, Chairman and Co-Founder of RWDC Industries, a biotech company that won The Liveability Challenge (TLC) by Temasek Foundation in 2018, spoke on his team’s arduous but rewarding journey in securing funding and developing viable, environmentally safe alternatives to petroleum-derived, single-use plastics such as cups, bags, and plates.
To aspiring impact innovators, Mr. Wee said: “The work we do is not for the faint-hearted. You must have grit and determination.”
Ms. Sam Shu Qin, Marine Biologist, NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute, shed light on marine conservation efforts such as beach and dive clean-ups as well as coral reef restoration, and highlighted the importance of working with partners. Ms. Sam, who also co-founded non-profit Our Singapore Reefs, urged everyone to be conscious of how our every action can impact the environment we live in.
Mr. Alex Polglase, Chief of Staff at NEU Battery Materials, a deep-tech start-up and 2021 TLC finalist, spoke on the importance of recycling lithium-ion batteries used in many electric vehicles, noting that it is a simple action everyone can do to make a difference to our planet.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but there needs to be behavioural changes to get us to net-zero,” Mr Polglase added.
After the discussions and audience Q&A, attendees enjoyed a screening of The Earthshot Prize’s Repairing Our Planet: Revive Our Oceans. Led by Prince William, founder of the Prize, and Sir David Attenborough, the episode features inspiring people and projects from around the world working to protect and restore the oceans. It is part of a documentary series focusing on the major challenges facing the planet.
Ms. Yvonne Tay, Head, Temasek Shophouse, said: “As a social impact hub, we’re glad to use our space and resources to amplify efforts that are championing change for our planet.”
2. Empowering youth leaders to drive local climate action
Temasek Foundation supported Common Purpose’s AYLCE programme. Mr. Jomthip Chareonsri from Temasek Foundation (in grey jacket) evaluated pitches by AYLCE participants.
As key climate stakeholders, youths are change agents and innovators with the ambition and will to turn their ideas into tangible, impactful solutions.
Over 120 exceptional leaders aged 18 to 35 from across Asia gathered in Singapore during Earthshot Week. They included representatives from Common Purpose, Conservation International, Global Shapers Community - Singapore Hub, Ismaili CIVIC, and Singapore Fashion Council.
Temasek Foundation supported the Asian Young Leaders for Climate and the Environment (AYLCE) programme, organised by Common Purpose. The first phase of AYLCE took place in Singapore as part of Earthshot Week, enabling 51 young climate enthusiasts to connect with inspiring sustainability industry leaders and like-minded peers from neighbouring countries.
A fireside chat with (from left) Mr. Fritz Quinn from American Express, Ms. Adirupa Sengupta of Common Purpose, Senior Parliamentary Secretary Mr. Baey, Mr. Jomthip Chareonsri from Temasek Foundation, and Ms. Sarah Cragg from The Earthshot Prize.
To kick off the AYLCE programme, Mr. Jomthip Chareonsri, Director of Programmes at Temasek Foundation, delivered the opening remarks and joined a fireside chat discussing how young people can be climate leaders in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.
“Temasek Foundation aims to connect youth leaders. Together, we can step up with innovative climate solutions for a sustainable future,” Mr. Chareonsri said.
Through the week, the AYLCE participants attended masterclasses and workshops, learning about cultural intelligence and how it can be incorporated into their leadership styles when approaching complex climate and environmental challenges.
Hosted by a Mandai Nature representative, AYLCE participants visited the Singapore Zoo to learn about various aspects of wildlife conservation efforts including species recovery, rehabilitation, and reforestation programmes. Separately, at Zerrin’s pop-up store, youth leaders learnt about conscious consumption and sustainable fashion.
The youth leaders also embarked on industry immersion visits to experience how leading organisations are tackling climate and environmental issues across different themes including biodiversity, wildlife conservation, sustainable fashion, water, food security, and waste management.
For instance, at Singapore Zoo, they learnt how Mandai Nature — the conservation arm of Mandai Wildlife Group and part of the Temasek Trust ecosystem — works with Southeast Asian partners to protect threatened species, restore ecosystems, and create benefits for local communities.
On the final day of the programme in Singapore, the AYLCE participants worked in teams to come up with actionable ideas to tackle environmental challenges in their local communities, before presenting their innovative solutions to a panel of judges for feedback and guidance.
Their proposals ranged from repurposing medical waste to creating a platform to preserve their elders’ knowledge of biodiversity — the next phase of the programme will see them turning their ideas into reality with mentorship and seed funding.
3. Nurturing climate storytellers to inspire positive change
Meanwhile, at the Studio Zero content workshop by Conservation International Singapore, participants learnt video creation techniques, how to develop a storyboard and script, and tips for effective, impactful mobile-first storytelling.
Participants also heard from content creators including wildlife filmmaker and documentary director Mr. Chris Annadorai, who demonstrated the power of storytelling to educate the public about conservation and sustainability.
Participants at the Studio Zero two-day workshop at Temasek Shophouse tried their hand at creating their own climate stories.
Ms. Kong Man Jing from Just Keep Thinking encouraged participants to create content that can spark two-way conversations with their audiences. In addition, content should not only inform, but also inspire action — such as by conveying a sense of urgency and suggesting practical steps that individuals can take.
Meanwhile, Ms. Woo Qi Yun from The Weird and Wild discussed the challenge of explaining and simplifying complex sustainability topics, which often involve technical and ambiguous terms, to make them more easily understood. Content creators should also seek to include diverse perspectives for a well-rounded understanding of climate and environmental issues.