18 interfaith leaders and practitioners from Singapore and from the ASEAN region who are based in Singapore today completed the construction of the‘Faiths @ Work’ (F@W) Demo Farm comprising climate-resilient and easy-to-grow crops. This climate action project seeks to introduce and promote climate-resilient crops to help enhance the awareness and advocacy of regional food sustainability across Southeast Asian nations, which are vulnerable to the increasing frequency, intensity and unpredictability of climate change including typhoons, floods, landslides and rising sea levels.
The F@W Demo Farm project is part of theTemasek Foundation – Humanity Matters ‘Faiths @ Work ’ Regional Interfaith Humanitarian Programme. The aim of the programme is to equip interfaith leaders and practitioners with the fundamental principles, philosophies and practices of the humanitarian sector, and in tandem, forge interfaith and intercultural cohesiveness through serving communities together.
Organised by Humanity Matters and supported by Temasek Foundation, the F@W programme was held for the second time from 5-10 September 2021 in Singapore. The nine-day programme comprises a four-day Humanitarian Affairs, Sustainability & Servant Leadership (HASL) training workshop, followed by a five-day joint community service project on constructing the F@W Demo Farm. Focusing on a common purpose to achieve the common good of humanity, the F@W programme theme for 2021 is on enabling climate action.
The F@W Demo Farm was officially launched by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the Canossian School located along Sallim Road. He was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Tharman, along with Mr Shawn Huang, Adviser to Jurong GRC Grassroots Organisations.
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Chairman of Humanity Matters, hosted the occasion, and was joined by Mr Benedict Cheong, Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation International, together with senior representatives from partnering institutions, namely the Canossian School, Di Zang Lin Temple and National Parks Board.
Senior Minister Tharman explored the farm and planted a Belinjau tree, a common and beneficial crop across Southeast Asia. SM Tharman later addressed and commended the programme’s institutional partners and regional participants (Speech attached). Mrs Tharman also launched the‘Faiths @ Work’ e-Farmbook, covering a selection of climate-resilient crops – their characteristics, benefits and recipes across Southeast Asia. The F@W e-Farmbook will be circulated by Humanity Matters to regional disaster management and rural development agencies.
In welcoming the guests, partners and participants, Ambassador Ong said, “This Demo Farm project is well in line with the ASEAN Socio Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint of 2015, which strives to build a committed, participative, and socially responsible community for the benefit of ASEAN citizens. This includes a sustainable community that promotes social development and environmental care; a resilient community with enhanced capacity and capability to adapt and respond to socio-economic vulnerabilities and crises, and a dynamic and harmonious community.”
Mr Benedict Cheong shared, “Interfaith dialogue is essential to ensuring long-term resilience in societies. This can be achieved through greater understanding and a shared commitment to care for the wider community and the environment. Through this programme, we hope leaders and practitioners from diverse faith backgrounds take the opportunity to deepen their connections and exchange knowledge and insights with each other. This will lead to stronger long-term ties that can help us all in the community manage the challenges in times of need together.”
The inaugural run of the ‘Faiths @ Work’ programme was held in the Philippines in 2019, where President Halimah Yacob and the Singaporean parliamentary delegation met and mingled with the ASEAN participants. Trained F@W participants who successfully completed the programme will be appointed as regional Primary Liaisons where they may be activated to be part of Humanity Matter’s regional relief responses should natural disasters occur at their respective country/location.