Singapore's 'Spider-man' honoured for conservation efforts

Former diplomat Joseph Koh has gone on trips spanning between two and three nights in the forests of Brunei - to look for spiders.

His interest in spiders has seen him amassing a collection of more than 12,000 specimens.

Mr Koh, 72, has also contributed greatly to Singapore's conservation efforts.

He led green group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore between 2018 and last year, during which the organisation collaborated with the National Parks Board on several projects - including combating illegal wildlife trade.

For his efforts and more, Mr Koh, who has been called Singapore's "Spider-man", was awarded the President's Award for the Environment at the Istana yesterday.

The award is Singapore's highest environmental accolade, and recognises individuals, organisations and educational institutions that have made significant contributions towards environmental sustainability here.

Four others also received the award: Nanyang Girls' High School, urban farming social enterprise Edible Garden City, port operator PSA Corporation, and DBS Bank.

President Halimah Yacob, who presented the awards yesterday, said in a statement: "Everyone has a part to play as we tackle the growing threat of climate change, and I hope more individuals and organisations will be inspired... to also contribute towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient Singapore for future generations."

This is the 14th iteration of the award, which began in 2006 and went from being annual to biennial in 2017.

Its judging criteria had been changed to reflect the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which the Government released in February.

The plan is aimed at charting the country's way towards a more sustainable future over the next decade.

Nanyang Girls' High School, the award recipient in the education institution category, has been actively encouraging its students to embrace sustainable living.

Its various initiatives include recycling, food composting and waste reduction.

Edible Garden City, one of three recipients in the organisation category, has groomed 80 urban farmers and created 260 food gardens out of underutilised spaces.

PSA Corporation has switched from using diesel to electricity to power its cranes. Its environmental sustainability efforts include working with industry partners to explore ways of using hydrogen as a low-carbon energy source.

DBS Bank, meanwhile, has developed a framework to help its customers transit into more sustainable business operations and is offering financing for such transition.