WELCOME ADDRESS BY PROFESSOR CHEONG HEE KIAT AT THE SINGAPORE UNIVERSITY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE SINGAPORE SCOUT ASSOCIATION MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING SIGNING, 19 FEB 2022
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Mr Raymond Chia, President of the Singapore Scout Association
Mr Desmond Chong, Chief Commissioner of the Singapore Scout Association
SUSS colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this event when the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will sign an MOU with the Singapore Scout Association (SSA).
Let me connect three points that found the basis for this collaboration.
First, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 of these, all noble ones, towards the betterment of people, communities, our world. Some of these, like ‘Climate Action’, ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’, ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, are directly vital to Singapore’s interest, while others, like ‘Zero Hunger’, ‘Quality Education’, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ may well seem less relevant for us to focus on, and more for other countries. But, lest we become complacent and disinterested in any and all of them, we must remind ourselves that Singapore is small yet so connected with the rest of the world, indeed, for our continued well-being, livelihood and progress. So, if goals like ‘No poverty’, ‘Reduced Inequalities’, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Climate Action’, indeed all the goals, are not strived for and attained, Singapore will be adversely affected, directly and indirectly, in the form of conflicts, forced migration, terrorism, unstable societies, economic, business and supply disruptions, extreme weather, coastal flooding. The SDGs matter to Singapore.
Second, it has been recognised that the future belongs to the youth. They have the responsibility to shape the future, making it a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world. They should know about the SDGs and what a force they can be to reach these goals. We are responsible for empowering them with knowledge and values to champion causes for social good. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."
SUSS has incorporated the understanding of the SDGs, social action, sustainability in its regular curriculum. Now, we purpose to bring these knowledge and values directly to our youth through materials and courses we will develop with youth organisations. On top of our suite of modules on sustainability, SUSS will offer bite-sized courses, such as sustainable society through innovative technology, challenging sustainability, sustainable building and more, through our SUSS UniLEARN online-learning platform. Over 20,000 learners have benefitted from UniLEARN courses, which equip them with relevant knowledge and skills to understand, manage and address the various social issues confronting society.
Third, we must heed the call to action rather than just words. Yes, know the SDGs, educate, take the courses, but all this must lead to action. SUSS’s service learning and experiential learning move us in that direction. We can get more youth on board. We need to develop ‘Heart’ and conviction in order to turn words into actions. I said that ‘tomorrow belongs to the youth’. But, then, it is not fair to place the burden on them only. I would venture that the future belongs not just to the youth but to all of us, young and old. For the ills that the SDGs aim at eradicating are already upon us and will intensify in time if we do nothing about it. So, we must get the youth to work together with the rest of society.
Today, SUSS will take action to collaborate with the Singapore Scout Association, one of the oldest youth movements in Singapore, which celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2020. SUSS and SSA will collaborate on developing and delivering a programme on the UN Sustainable Development Goals to promote youth leadership in sustainability. I hope it will be the first of many youth organisations, and even schools, to partner with us in this venture.
Some of you may ask: why SSA? I see many synergies between our organisations. Preparing and empowering our youths for the future, advancing social good, and providing education – be it life skills or academic pursuits. We envisage a strong partnership as both organisations are committed to empowering youth, scouts and non-scouts, to champion this social cause.
Our joint efforts with SSA will prepare our youths for the green economy and future employment as sustainability cuts across all sectors. Hopefully, we will see more youth stepping up as influencers and community activists, co-creating green projects with the local community to contribute to society.
I look forward to SUSS fostering more and more cross-sector partnerships to support social causes and make a collective positive impact on our society. In November 2020, we launched the SUSS Centre of Excellence of Social Good (CESG) to provide learning for different communities to advance social good. The centre serves as a key node to forge partnerships among the private and people sectors by engaging in training and education, multi-disciplinary research, and strategic collaboration that enhances the non-profit sector’s capabilities and practices. Through CESG, SUSS collaborates with MCCY’s Singapore Cares Office to promote ground-up initiatives, encourage volunteerism and grow an ecosystem of stronger and resilient non-profit organisations to address community needs holistically. CESG can be pivotal in what we are starting today with the SSA and in seeding many more such endeavours.
Thank you, Minister Grace Fu, for your presence, which will be an encouragement to all of us, particularly in pursuing sustainability in all we do. Thank you to the organisers, and also to all of you.