Opening Address by Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board, at the Official Book Launch of "Peace with Nature: 50 Inspiring Essays on Nature and the Environment", on 4 September 2023 at the Pod, National Library Building

Minister Desmond Lee
His Excellency, Hiroshi Ishikawa
His Excellency, Agustín García-López Loaeza
Ambassador at Large, Professor Tommy Koh
Professor Lim Heng-Lye
Shawn Lum
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

1.                Welcome to the Pod at the National Library Building, for the launch of Peace with Nature. We are honoured that the editors, Professor Tommy Koh, Professor Lye Lin-Heng and Shawn Lum, have chosen to launch this book in NLB. We have long been a strong supporter of efforts to protect Singapore’s biodiversity, and are very glad to be part of this occasion that will help to create greater awareness about Singapore’s nature and environment.

2.                This collection of 50 essays is by people who have studied or are intimately connected with nature and the environment in Singapore. Through them, we can gain greater awareness about our environment, and related issues like climate change and sustainable energy. I congratulate the editors for bringing these essays together for us to learn from, and better appreciate our natural environment.

3.                Such awareness and appreciation for nature and the environment is very much part of the NLB. Since 2014, NLB has been a member of the global Biodiversity Heritage Library consortium, as Singapore’s representative. We have not only made contributions to this digital library from the National Library’s Rare Materials Collection, but also facilitated contributions from the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We are working with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and NUS Central Library to pitch in to the efforts as well.

4.                A key component of LAB25, our Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025, involves developing programmes and curated resources to help our patrons learn more about sustainability, and importantly, how they can play their part. For instance:

                   a. Our LearnX web platform contains learning content and programmes about environmental sustainability. These are arranged by age groups so that everyone from toddlers to seniors can benefit.

                   b. We also hold regular Green Markets. The last one was held at the Punggol Regional Library earlier this year, where we brought together partners and showcases for patrons to learn about sustainability. To stimulate more reading and learning about our natural history, we had earlier held an exhibition known as Human X Nature, as well as published a book with the French Embassy — Diard & Duvaucel: French Natural History Drawings of Singapore and Southeast Asia 1818–1820.

                   c. Our libraries have also been built with sustainability in mind. The building we are in, for example, has 14 landscaped gardens that help regulate indoor temperature, and sensors that manage the use of electricity and water, among other things. At the Choa Chu Kang Public Library, we have a Green Grove that features a Hydroponics Showcase and a Climate Action Corner. In 2022, this library was globally recognised as the Best Green Library by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

5.                As the saying goes, there is no Planet B; the Earth is all we have. We urgently need to work together to reduce our carbon footprint, protect the environment, nurture biodiversity and move towards sustainable energy. This collection of essays will certainly inspire us to do more together. Congratulations once again to the editors for bringing this new book to all of us!