Message from the Executive Director

executive-directorThe work we do in building people-to-people relations across borders has become increasingly important as the conditions of international relations have changed radically in a globalised world. Addressing today’s complex social, economic and environmental issues also requires truly novel solutions. It demands that we work together in new ways. In ways where we forge a common understanding of global challenges and foster collaborative problem solving. Apropos, people diplomacy strategies offer more effective solutions as non-governmental organisations, academics and non-state players, like the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), work better with the public to complement the efforts of government.

In charting a new way forward, the SIF has adopted a relational and collaborative approach to building a better world. What does this mean? Simply that, at the SIF, we recognise the “magic of connections”. That possibilities are endless when we harness the power of networks to enrich lives and effect change. In that spirit, the SIF’s role is to build positive and productive connections between peoples. Around common values or causes to develop shared meaning. That we might enable collaborations for sustained and positive social change. Our approach to a better world is based on genuine collaboration with interconnected communities.

To fulfil its mission, the SIF runs a number of programmes under four broad thrusts, namely Cultural Exchange, Good Business, Volunteer Cooperation and Our Better World. You’re right, for a small organisation, we have big ambitions. But what is core in all that we do is this: We bring Singaporeans and world communities together to do good. To share ideas, skills and experiences, bridging diverse communities to effect real change in areas such as healthcare, education, environment, culture and business. One example of such a force for good is the SIF’s global network of 480 young social entrepreneurs. This growing community of youth changemakers is bound by a shared

vision to pioneer solutions to social problems for systemic change and has launched social enterprises in 12 countries. Yet another collaborative network in the making is our community of artists. The SIF’s newly launched Arts for Good initiative seeks to contribute to positive social change through collaborations between Singaporean and international artists, as well as galvanise greater community involvement. We believe arts and culture can aid sustainable development, particularly in fostering inclusive communities, promoting sustainable urban living and enabling livelihood.

Going forward, the SIF will step up its efforts to partner individuals and institutions with similar interests – leveraging one another’s strengths and learning from one another – to grow our programmes and advance common goals. We will also forge strong collaborations within and across the public, private and people sectors and across borders to create impact beyond what one alone can deliver.

As we grow our work overseas, so too will our need for Singaporeans as active global citizens. We call them “Citizen Ambassadors”. They comprise artists, educators, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, social workers and more. The SIF’s vibrant corp of Singapore International Volunteers, for instance, forms the backbone of our development work in Asia. Together with our programme partners, they help raise standards of healthcare and education in the region, positively impacting thousands of lives in developing communities annually.

One of the great privileges in our work is meeting and learning from such truly inspiring people. Their stories are too good to keep to ourselves. This book recognises and celebrates our valued and esteemed Singaporeans who have partnered us over the last 25 years to build a better world. They have enabled the SIF’s mission of connecting communities, enabling collaborations and effecting change. Together with our international friends, programme partners and donors, they share what it means to belong to a world community – with a shared responsibility for what is happening to the planet as a whole and whose actions contribute to international understanding and development.

This book is dedicated to all who believe in a better world – one that is peaceful, inclusive and offers opportunities for all.

Jean Tan