This is an edited excerpt of a speech by Professor Tommy Koh at The Third Linnaeus Lecture in Nagoya, Japan, on Friday. The lecture series is named after Swedish father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus.
- that achieving economic prosperity need not be at the expense of care for the environment;
- that a small, densely populated city can still be clean, green and nature-loving; and
- that a city can play a positive role in the conservation of biodiversity and in our campaign to reduce the loss of biodiversity.
I think the secret is that we have one of the world's first green political leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee insisted that Singapore would accept no investment proposal if it did not have the support of the anti-pollution unit. The unit was located in the Prime Minister's Office and was empowered to overrule the economic agencies. Mr Lee believed that nature has economic value and that our clean and green environment would give us a comparative advantage in attracting foreign investment to Singapore. His successors have taken the vision to another level.