Shaping our Green Digital Future – How Institutions and Upcoming Talent Can Collectively Build A Greener World
At the recent Asia Technology X Singapore (ATxSG) Summit, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Ms Grace Fu championed that “our whole ecosystem can influence one another, if leaders like yourself will take the first step to do good.” This was a statement that was echoed by guest speaker Mr Robert Yap, Chairman, Swan & Maclaren as he opened his sharing session during Huawei’s third dialogue session held on 15 June at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Yong Pung How School of Law.
Tech4City Dialogue Session speakers and competition participants
The third edition of the Huawei Tech4City dialogue sessions focused on current and future climate challenges, rising energy costs and how global existential crises can have a direct impact on Singapore’s development. The discussion points during the session touched on balancing sustainable and economic development and how energy usage is key to enhancing Singapore’s ambitions in creating a brighter energy future for all.
Redesigning Energy, Decarbonisation Solutions & Community Engagement as Catalysts to Change
The esteemed guests who spoke during the segment for energy included Ms Liu Xiaowei, Director, Special Projects, Asia, World Energy Council, Mr Robert Yap, Chairman, Advisory Board and non-Executive Director, EDPR Asia Pacific; Chairman, Swan & Maclaren Group and Mr Zac Teo Zi Cheng, Senior Business Development Manager, Huawei Singapore Digital Power. Each speaker took turns to share a short presentation on their organisation’s own initiatives towards sustainability before sitting in a panel discussion to take questions from the floor.
Ms Liu Xiaowei, Director, Special Projects, Asia, World Energy Council
Ms Liu started her presentation by sharing an anecdote of how humanity has transitioned over the last hundred years through wood to coal and now to alternative energy sources. Through these changes, humanity has gained so much in terms of knowledge and technology. She stressed on the need for business and the emerging youth leaders to redesign the energy system for the planet and the billions of people that call it home.
“As of 2020 over 56% of the global population lived in urban areas. By 2050 this is set to rise exponentially past 70%. How can we make sure that the planet is still there for the millions of people to come after us?”
With these thoughts, Ms Liu went through real world examples and guidelines from the World Energy Council (WEC) on how governments, think tanks and institutions from across the world can tap on models like the world Trilemma Index. This is an annual measurement of national energy system performances across each of the three trilemma dimensions of: Energy Security, Energy Equity and Environmental Sustainability.
To close off her presentation, she urged students to look at the mega trends that are set to impact the way people live, work, and consume energy.
Mr Robert Yap, Chairman, Advisory Board and non-Executive Director, EDPR Asia Pacific; Chairman, Swan & Maclaren Group
In his presentation, Mr Yap highlighted the work that the Swan & Maclaren Group does – specifically in bringing to life carbon neutral built environments by combining sustainable Illumination, smart use of energy and materials. He advocated for students with a strong interest in sustainably built environments to grow their passion by exploring the various ways that companies are revolutionising the industry and to become changemakers themselves for the future.
“A reality check is that climate impact has not hit you yet and become a problem to you. In terms of food production, resiliency, and inflation. But my concern here is that the message in terms of how serious this is has not actually hit home yet.
As he concluded his sharing, Mr Yap spoke on the need for young technologists to look at Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions guidelines and to deconstruct how organisations can come up with novel solutions to measure, track and report on their own emission and sustainability efforts in a straightforward manner.
Mr Zac Teo Zi Cheng, Senior Business Development Manager, Huawei Singapore Digital Power
Huawei’s own Mr Teo started his presentation with an inspiring video about Huawei’s Research Centre in Shenzhen and the various scientists who were working on ground-breaking discoveries that have yet to be seen. He also touched on the work of the Huawei’s Digital Power team and the projects that they have been involved in most recently – one of them being Southeast Asia’s largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) which is also one of the fastest in the world of it’s size to be deployed.
Stressing the importance of engaging the community in sustainable development, Mr Teo shared about the Bao Feng 1GW solar-agri PV plant, where Huawei supplied the inverters. The land it sits on was originally desertified, but the developers planted alfalfa to prime the land, before planting the Goji berry trees beneath the solar panels at Yin Chuan, Ningxia province. The developer engaged villagers in the community to prune the goji berries while employing them for module cleaning, maintenance and berry harvesting. The plant is a true epitome of technology, community and nature in harmony.
Meeting the Tech4City Advisory Council
The final panel session saw Huawei’s Tech4City Advisory Council members Ms Christina Lee, Founder & CEO, Global Green Connect, Professor May Lwin, Chair and President’s Chair Professor of Communication Studies at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Mr Robert Yap, Chairman, Advisory Board and Non-Executive Director, EDPR Asia Pacific, Chairman, Swan & Maclaren Group.
This panel was open for Q&A to the student groups and various attendees who were in the audience.
The questions revolved around global trends and how the panellists felt about how the current transition to renewable energy sources and its benefits to society. However, the various speakers took time to expand on the question of how urbanised countries like Singapore will adapt to climate change.
Mr Yap highlighted that a country like Singapore “does not have enough footprint to do wind energy or solar” and that we will need to have strategic and positive partnerships with neighbours and countries further afield for offshore energy farms and similar agreements for energy cooperation.
On questions regarding direction and recommended issues for Tech4City competitors to address, Prof. May reiterated that in her capacity as Professor at the NTU School of Communications, she sees many great ideas being formed and worked on. However, what is lacking are the practical effects that these solutions have on the wider community for which they are intended. “Often times, the ideas are formed in groups and are clear, but the impact is not there when the product is formed.” said Prof. May.
The dialogue session ended on a light-hearted note when all of the panellists agreed that they would invest in a team that came up with solutions for companies to simplify their sustainability and carbon reporting to regulators and governments. “We would definitely invest in that, and I look forward to the great ideas at Tech4City.” said Ms Christina Lee.
The Finals for Huawei Tech4City Competition 2023 in Sep
Huawei Tech4City Competition aims to empower youths to propose creative and innovative solutions using digital technology to build a sustainable and livable Singapore of tomorrow. This year, the competition focused on 5 themes, Well-being, Learning, Mobility, Finance, and Energy.
The idea is supported by local partners like Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Health Promotion Board, SBS Transit, SingHealth, Business China, and various Institutes of Higher Learning. The competition provides a platform for youth engagement, allowing Singapore youths to contribute fresh ideas to build a city that they are proud to live in, focusing to strengthen community bonds and promote giving, inspiring a greater sense of belonging and work towards building a more sustainable, progressive Singapore, making Singapore a best home for everyone.
The competition attracted 372 participants from local universities and polytechnics and received close to 100 submissions. The top 16 teams will be shortlisted and go through mentorship before the selected top 8 teams compete in the finals on 13 Sep 2023.
This year, the competition seeks tech innovations that could create help improve productivity and sustainability in the areas of well-being, learning, mobility, finance and energy. Eligible applicants aged between 18 and 35 years old, can register for the competition in teams of two to four persons, each team must submit an original proposal to solve a social problem based on one of the competition’s five themes.
The winning teams will be awarded cash prizes of $15,000 (grand prize), $8,000 (second prize), and $5,000 (third prize) in cash. Teams that come in fourth to eighth positions will also receive $1,000 each in cash. There will also be an additional cash prize of $3,000 for the best innovation in mobility, sponsored by SBS Transit.
Find out more about the competition through this link: https://www.tech4city.sg/