Social Steps Podcast

Social Impact Professionals, Yaacob Ibrahim, former Minister for Environment and Water Resources of Singapore – Social Steps #Special Episode

Social Impact Professionals, Yaacob Ibrahim, Former Minister for Environment and Water Resources of Singapore – Social Steps #Special Episode Social Steps

What does a minister for the environment do day to day? How does Singapore protect the environment? And the challenges to work with environmental and climate topics at the highest level of the government?

In this special episode to celebrate the first birthday of the Social Steps Podcast, Yaacob Ibrahim shares his story of commitment to public service in Singapore and remarkable experiences at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (current Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment).

He talks about his involvement in climate change conferences (2007 Bali, Copenhagen 2009, and Cancun 2011), the intersections of sustainability and technology, the importance of public transportation to a healthier environment, and other crucial aspects of what cities can do to ensure the well-being of their residents.

Yaacob started his career as a Member of Parliament in Singapore on 2 January 1997, and held several positions at the highest levels of the Government of Singapore. Apart from his work at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. He also served as a Minister in the Ministries of Community Development and Sports (2002 – 2004) and Communications and Information (2011 – 2018).

It’s rare to get to speak with someone who has been so close to the highest levels of environmental and climate politics. So, I hope you enjoy this episode.



  • Yaacob Ibrahim, civil engineer and former politician. PhD in Civil Engineering from Stanford University

Topics discussed:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 07:36 Yaacob’s career story and professional challenges
  • 10:38 Who influenced you to work for the Government of Singapore?
  • 13:40 What sparked your interest in environmental topics?
  • 16:52 Why did you decide to become a professor?
  • 24:12 Challenges to balance development needs and environmental protection
  • 32:40 Environmental awareness in Singapore and its challenges
  • 36:21 Any failures from environmental plans during your term?
  • 44:13 Memorable moments from climate change conferences
  • 53:47 Thoughts about climate change conferences in our society
  • 01:00:14 Career advice, books, documentaries, and movies recommendations
  • 01:06:22 Final message
  • 01:08:07 Ending

Yaacob’s recommendations:

  • Life on Earth: A Natural History by David Attenborough;
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

Social Steps en Spotify (link).

Social Steps en Google Podcasts (link).

Social Steps en Apple Podcasts (link).

Social Steps en YouTube (link).

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