From little acorns grow giant oaks
This line came from a discussion I was listening to about the economic future of Singapore and what pieces of the jigsaw need to be put in place to future proof her economy. For those who don’t know, Singapore has a population of 5.7 million people in an area of 270 square miles. Jersey meanwhile is 45 square miles and has a population of 105,000. For purely comparison purposes, if we increased the land mass of Jersey to that of Singapore and multiply the existing population by the same proportion, Jersey’s population equivalent is a mere 630,000.
There are certain commonalities between the two jurisdictions. Both are major off-shore finance centres. Both import over 90% of everything they consume. Space is at a premium and both have little in the way of natural resources. Singapore is known as the garden city, St. Helier, Jersey is not.
In a world of finite resources, an ever growing global population and the added spice of climate change, the pressure is on to innovate if we are to maintain our current standard of living without destroying the planet. It’s so easy on a small Island to simply wait for others to come up with solutions to these immense problems, but as Greta Thunberg, the climate activist has already demonstrated you don’t have to be big to have an impact you just need to be motivated.
To help give strategic direction to their economy the Singapore Government has set up The Future Economy Council from this has sprung Skills future. Effectively life-long learning recognising that it’s not just the young who need to keep up with technology. This is Government funded and reinforces this “40 years ahead” approach.
Such forward thinking has resulted in the development of wireless power transfer, vertical farms (see Appharvest), home delivery robots (Otsan digital) and developments in drone technology. The possibilities are endless and it’s all built around the future needs of the citizen.
Can you imagine if we had this desire to push the boundaries what could be achieved? Could we be leaders in re-thinking engine technology? With over 90% of all we consume being imported we have a very large collective and unsustainable carbon footprint.
Clearly a massive change of culture is necessary. Dedicated Government funding; rethinking educational provision for all ages and a collective sense of purpose will all help to create the jobs of the future. That combined with a Finance industry looking to invest in the next Apple or Microsoft completes the ingredients that could make Jersey a world leading centre of innovation and protector of the planet.
It’s a hugely ambitious vision but remember from little acorns grow giant oaks.