Sustainable Development or Sustainability

Would like to start this section with a speech by a 12 year old Severin Suzuki. She made this passionate appeal in UN.

How far have we come since then?

Is sustainable development or sustainability the answer?
Is there a difference in these terms? What do they mean?

Sustainable development is a process of developing land, cities, business, communities, and so on that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
(UN report 1987)

Providing for today without effecting the provision of the resource in the future.

Using a resource at a slower rate than its creation.



All organisms cause changes in their environments, and these changes can be beneficial or detrimental. Especially, Humans are some of the most powerful change agents to an environment and that can upset the delicate balance of an ecosystem

Knowledge and Skills

  • Discuss the importance of sustainable development
  • Discuss the moral obligations of man in conservation and environmental protection
  • Develop an awareness of personal lifestyle impact on the environment
  • Adopt a stand towards sustainability and conservation and be able to hold discussions using specific examples to justify their claims

In Singapore, the government has put in place a blueprint for a Sustainable Singapore - A Lively and Livable City

"Our vision is to make Singapore a liveable and lively city state, one that Singaporeans love and are proud to call home."

"Sustainable development for Singapore means growing our city state in a way that:
  • Is efficient: we develop with less resources and waste
  • Is clean: we develop without polluting our environment
  • Is green: we develop while preserving greenery, waterways and our natural heritage

We want to develop Singapore in a sustainable way so that future generations of Singaporeans can also enjoy both economic growth and a good living environment. If we grow our city state in an efficient, clean and green way, and if each one of us is more environmentally conscious in the way we live, work, play and commute, we will all contribute our part to protecting the global environment."

Download the blueprint and take a look at the plan.

This year the NUS students organise a National Sustainability Conference in February. Do read some of the interesting presentations that were given at the conference.

How much waste do we generate as a nation? How muc water do we use? How much carbon dioxide do we give off?

Waste Management data

One ton is equal to 1000kg.
If we estimate that an average RGS girl is about 50kg (yes, an overestimation I presume), 200 RGS students weighs a ton.
Last year we disposed of almost 6 MILLION tons of solid waste! Equivalent to 1.2 billion RGS students. Even after 130 years of history we don't have that many RGS students that have graduated from our school. Something to ponder on.


The amount of water that Singaporeans consumed has ben increasing through the years.
In 2007 according to the data provided by NEA, we emitted almost 40,000 kilo tonnes.

Volume calculation of one ton CO2
One ton = 1000kg
One cubic meter = 1000liters
One mole CO2 = 44.0g (CO2 = 12.0g + 32.0g = 44.0g)
One ton contains 22730 moles of CO2 (1,000,000g / 44.0g/mole)
One mole is 24.47L (Boyle's law at 25°C and 1 atmosphere pressure)
Volume of one ton CO2 = 22730moles × 24.47L/mole = 556200L = 556.2m³
One ton of CO2 occupies 556.2m³ of volume.

Volume CO2 from one gallon of conventional gasoline
Gasoline density = 2791grams/gallon
Percent carbon by mass = 85.5%
Mass of CO2 from 1 gal of gas = 2.791kg/gal × 85.5% × (44.0g CO2 / 12.0g C) = 8.750kg
Volume of CO2 from one gallon of gas = 8.750kg × 556.2m³/ton = 4.867m³
The combustion of each gallon of conventional gasoline produces 4.867m³ or 171.88ft3 of CO2.

You can look at a visual representation HERE. Pretty cool.

Work out in terms of area the amount of carbon dioxide we have emitted in Singapore.

You can compare our emission with the rest of the world in 2003 where we ranked number 10.

Click HERE for an interactive map which shows the carbon emission from various countries.


So what is the role that we each play? Is there a way to calculate our own carbon emission base on our lifestyle?

Try the Carbon Footprint calculator.
How big is your footprint? Is your footprint sustainable?

In order to have a sustained life style, the emission is 2 tonnes a year. What is yours?

If you are not sure of the distance that you travel everyday, use the google map to calculate.
Click on Get directions and key in the address of your house in A and B the address of RGS. Google map will calculate for you the distance that you travel to come to school.

  • The average footprint for people in Singapore is 12.20 tonnes
  • The average for the industrial nations is about 11 tonnes
  • The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 tonnes
  • The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 tonnes

Is your carbon footprint higher than the worldwide target?
Would you like to consider cutting it down?
What can you do to reduce it?

Since the beginning of this unit there is just more gloom and doom.

A friend reminded me today the reasons for hope. The optimism of Dr Jane Goodall.

""It is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness as we look around the world. We are losing species at a terrible rate, the balance of nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our beautiful planet. We have fear about water supplies, where future energy will come from – and most recently the developed world has been mired in an economic crisis. But in spite of all this I do have hope. And my hope is based on four factors."
  • The Human Brain
  • The Indomitable Human Spirit
  • The Resilience of Nature
  • The Determination of Young People

I hope that with KNOWLEDGE you begin to UNDERSTAND and with understanding you begin to FEEL and will ACT.