Singapore’s Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources launches two key initiatives to create opportunities for technology collaboration in the environmental services industry
The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, launched two key initiatives at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore (CESS) 2018. These initiatives aim to help catalyse the transformation of the environmental services industry and ensure more opportunities for technology collaboration and adoption. These initiatives include the regulatory sandbox for environmental services and an environmental services industry digital plan.
Speaking at the Clean Environment Leaders Summit at CESS 2018, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, stated that Singapore, being a small city-state, has always been acutely aware of the need to balance economic development and environmental sustainability. The environmental services industry must cope with critical challenges including an ageing workforce and low productivity. However, The Minister maintains that vulnerability can be turned into strength and opportunity. “We launched the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM) last year, and we will continue to push ahead with productivity, digitalisation, and innovation, as well as support our industry to seize opportunities in the future economy,” he added.
Regulatory sandbox for environmental services
The first initiative is a regulatory sandbox which will serve as a key enabler for interested parties to experiment with innovative environmental services-related technologies and solutions in a controlled environment within a fixed duration, without compromising public safety, sanitation, or hygiene standards. Currently, the experimentation of new technologies and solutions is permitted on a case-by-case basis and is subject to compliance with existing regulatory requirements. The environmental services landscape is evolving, with emerging and disruptive technologies and business models that have an immense potential to reshape economies and industries. In circumstances where it is less clear whether a new technology or solution complies with the regulatory requirements, some companies may err on the side of caution and choose not to implement them. This, more often than not, results in missed opportunities. A responsive and forward-looking regulatory approach is thus necessary to create an environment where trials of innovative technologies/ solutions can take place with a temporary relaxation of specific existing regulatory requirements. Over time, this will enable the industry to transform into one that is powered by the pervasive use of technology to increase their operational efficiency and productivity.
The regulatory sandbox will serve the following objectives:
i. Encourage innovation in the environmental services industry;
ii. Allow trials of innovative technologies/solutions with a temporary relaxation of specific existing regulatory requirements;
iii. Enable companies to experiment and develop scalable and replicable solutions in Singapore and overseas; and
iv. Provide an avenue for NEA to review/adjust its existing regulatory, licensing and enforcement framework to facilitate applications of new technologies and solutions.
Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan
To support the productivity and innovation objectives of the ES ITM, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with NEA, has developed the Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan (ES IDP). The ES IDP will provide SMEs in ES Industry with a step-by-step guide on how to identify the digital solutions required at each stage of their growth. The IDP also includes a Digital Roadmap (Training), which is developed in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the Institute for Technical Education. It comprises a curated list of short modular SkillsFuture Series programmes to equip the workforce with the relevant skills to keep pace with digital transformation.
NEA launched the ES ITM in December 2017, unveiling the strategies and initiatives to transform the environmental services industry. The implementation of the key initiatives launched today as well as other ongoing efforts will ensure a vibrant, sustainable and professional industry that will provide services and solutions to help achieve a Zero Waste vision and a clean and liveable Singapore.