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Speech at 106th International Labour Conference

Minister for Manpower, Mr Lim Swee Say, Geneva, Switzerland

Conference Chair, Distinguished delegates
  1. Singapore fully supports the call by ILO on “Work in a Changing Climate: The Green Initiative”. 
  2. Singapore was among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. 
  3. We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to the global effort to address climate change. 
  4. We strongly believe that creating better growth for our economy as well as better jobs and living environment for our people is a journey with no end. 
  5. Striving for sustainable development is not a choice. 
  6. It is an obligation we owe to each other and to our future generations. 
  7. This is especially so for Singapore. Because as a small island city-state, we are lean by nature. 
  8. With just over two million resident workers in our workforce, we are manpower-lean.
  9. With a land area of just slightly over 700 km2 - ½ the size of London and less than 2% the size of Switzerland - we are land-lean, water-lean, energy-lean, and resource-lean.
  10. However, we have never allowed our constraints to be obstacles to our development and progress. Not in the past, and certainly not in the future. 
  11. We are continually searching for new and innovative ideas to generate economic growth, create good jobs and improve the quality of life for our people in a sustainable manner. 
  12. As we transit into the future economy, we strive to be a leaner and greener economy, driven by technology and innovation. 
  13. We are transforming our industry, sector by sector, to build new capabilities in smart factory, digital services, vertical farming, water reclamation, green energy and more.
  14. We are transforming our enterprises, big and small, to strive for zero waste, be more capable, productive and cost competitive. 
  15. We are transforming our workforce, young and old, to be more adaptable, up-skillable and re-skillable so as to minimise mismatches between future jobs and future skills. 
  16. Above all, we are fully committed to ensure that our future workforce will always be inclusive, even as our future economy becomes more dynamic and innovative. 
  17. Innovative, and yet inclusive: This is of growing importance, not just for Singapore, but for all countries. 
  18. Social cohesion is the bedrock of peace and stability to enable sustainable progress.
  19. To make this a reality will not be easy for any country. Singapore is no exception. 
  20. What may be exceptional is that our tripartite partners are working together in unity, both at the national and industry levels, to achieve this vision of being innovative and yet inclusive. 
  21. Our unions, industry leaders and government agencies are jointly spearheading the transformation of 23 business sectors in Singapore, accounting for more than 80% of our economy. 
  22. Together, we are doing our best to create new innovations in our economy, new capabilities in our enterprises, new jobs in our labour market, and new skills in our people. 
  23. The outcomes can be win-win-win for our economy, enterprises and workers, but only if our economy is competitive, our society is cohesive and our development is environmentally sustainable, all at the same time. 
  24. We are not the first, and we are not alone in this journey of becoming leaner, greener and more sustainable. 
  25. With the united effort of like-minded nations, we can make our shared vision of Future of Work a reality for all workers across the globe, today and into the future.