A Young Engineer’s Thoughts on the Inaugural World Engineers Summit (Day 1)
This article is contributed by Desmond Low, an environmental engineering student at the Nanyang Technological University.
Singapore hosted the inaugural World Engineers Summit (WES) last week, which saw engineers from different disciplines coming together to discuss, explore and share ideas on innovative and sustainable solutions to climate change. Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, graced the joint opening ceremony of WES, the International Green Building Conference and Build Eco Xpo Asia, with a speech that shared how engineers have improved our standard of living with their work.
The opening ceremony of the WES 2013 sets the direction for tackling climate change in the engineering scene and it also addressed several key points. The three important takeaways from the first session are the recognition of climate change by the Singapore government, the launch of the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) Chartered Engineer Accreditation Programme, and the 3rd Green Building Masterplan by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
Firstly, DPM Teo emphasised that the whole government will co-ordinate and work together on tackling climate change, with the recognition that Singapore, being a low-lying coastal country, will be severely affected by rising sea levels if no action is taken.
Secondly, the Chartered Engineer Accreditation programme that will officially endorse and certify engineers was launched. The Chartered Engineer title is aimed at engineers who are in fields that do not require them to be registered as Professional Engineers. This quality mark will be introduced to the Aerospace, Chemical, Environmental, Marine and Systems engineering sector for a start and seeks to be a national benchmark in the future.
Thirdly, the BCA 3rd Green Building Masterplan seeks to realise Singapore’s vision of being a global leader in green buildings with a special expertise in tropics and sub-tropics. This builds upon the previous masterplans that helped Singapore achieved an astounding growth from 17 green buildings in 2005 to 1650 green buildings this year. This means that 21% of Singapore’s building stock is green-rated and places Singapore as one of the leading green cities in the world. The opening ceremony demonstrated the proactive stance the Singapore government takes on climate change and green buildings.
During the keynote sessions after the opening ceremony, the speakers shared their views on climate change. Vice President of the Asia Development Bank, Dr Bindu N Lohani, emphasised on the rapid urbanisation in Asia. He shares three focus points: create green and smart cities, reduce, reuse and recycle, and make our cities resilient to climate change. He also brought our attention to the upcoming release of the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that will reveal the latest scientific statistics and technical information on climate change.
International President of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ms Yolanda Navarro, focused on the importance of food and water security, the changing vectors and the interdependence of the environment and humans. She proposed that the current challenge for engineers is to create more food with less water to achieve sufficient quality and quantity in food. Also, the rising temperatures have caused disease-transmitting vectors to change behaviour and thus causing vaccines to lose their effectiveness. These factors would affect the poorer developing countries to a larger extent. However, she was elated to share the good news that China has officially announced the ban of shark’s fin soup in all government events. She ended her session by urging the young engineers to proactively participate in non-profit organisations like WWF and play a part in contributing to the society as soon as possible.