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Singapore, Netherlands to share know-how on environment, water

The Straits Times by LINETTE LAI & POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT IN AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam has been battling floods since it was founded in the 13th century, and the Netherlands has become a leader in waste management and resource recovery.

Singapore will now be able to better tap such expertise under a new agreement inked with the Netherlands yesterday.

Both countries will also share knowledge on water solutions and support industry efforts to work together on new water production technologies.

A memorandum of understanding on environmental and water cooperation was signed by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag.

It was witnessed by President Halimah Yacob, who is on a state visit, and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

"In the environmental sector, the Netherlands is a forerunner in growing the circular economy," said Mr Masagos. And as Singapore transitions to such a model - which aims to reuse and regenerate resources as much as possible - there will be opportunities for local businesses to collaborate with Dutch firms.

"We are keen to partner with international businesses to share solutions and technologies," he said.

MAXIMISING RESOURCE USE

We need to transition to a circular economy because the current linear model of 'make, use and dispose' is inherently unsustainable in the long term.

ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES MINISTER MASAGOS ZULKIFLI

Under the pact, both sides will do more to share know-how in four areas: the circular economy, climate change, pollution prevention and control, and integrated water resource management.

Both countries will form a joint working committee to develop a detailed work programme, and it will hold its first meeting by next May.

The agreement was signed at Prodock - an incubator in the Dutch capital Amsterdam where port-related start-ups can test out new ideas - which Madam Halimah and the Singapore delegation visited.

Ms Kaag said her country had room to learn from Singapore too.

"The Netherlands, for its part, is inspired by Singapore's approach to lifelong learning - including technical and vocational learning - cyber security, and investment acquisition," she said. "We are really, truly most interested to learn from you in this regard."

In a speech, Mr Masagos spoke of the need for Singapore to move towards a circular economy model which maximises resource use and cuts down on waste. "We need to transition to a circular economy because the current linear model of 'make, use and dispose' is inherently unsustainable in the long term."

He highlighted the upcoming Tuas Nexus project, which is designed to combine used-water sludge with food waste to produce biogas for electricity generation. "More than $5 billion in tenders will be called for the Tuas Nexus development over the next five years, a business potential for Dutch companies with the relevant expertise," he said.

The Dutch are one of the front runners in developing a circular economy. Amsterdam has pledged to become a fully circular economy by 2050, while the port city of Rotterdam intends to do so by 2030.

At Prodock, Madam Halimah and Singapore officials also viewed several projects designed to improve water and waste management.