In my final blog post questioning the pillars of the Green Plan, I’m covering the final pillar “Resilient Future”. If our vision of a resilient future is just about defending our coastlines against rising sea levels (no doubt important), local food production and having more greenery, I question what resilience really mean. Our future, intertwined with the focus on sustainability and resilience needs to encompass the physical, mental, policy and system aspects of resilience. By reducing resilience simply into something physical, we are giving ourselves too easy a problem to ‘solve’.
Resilience is not an easy concept – there’s a lot of dynamism embedded in it. You can be resilient but not seen as a winner; because it is more about suffering blows than claiming credit. And at the same time, we can build resilience at one level (eg. having strong base of reserves to use when they are required) but when crisis strikes, behave in a way that reduces our resilience (eg. creating moral hazards about using further draws to delay structural changes that is needed in the economy).
And even as we think about the resilience of a nation – what about our people, who are increasingly having difficulties with mental health, who feel increasingly disconnected between the prescribed path to success during their upbringing and their personal experiences in life? Has our education, upbringing and the manner by which we consider policy-making been building up or tearing down our mental, emotional resilience as a nation?
I appreciate that the Singapore Green Plan is not so much a plan than just an effort to piece together ideas as well as existing initiatives so as to cement our agenda against climate change and for more sustainable development. We need all the best ideas we can have regardless of where they may come from. Because when the ideas get out there, whether it works or not depends not on who came up with it – but more on the quality of it and on our ability to execute them. Having healthy conversations, trying to work things out through unanswerable questions are more important than trying to answer them. As a society, it is the willingness to do this, to work together that is going to bring about that resilient future ahead.