Weixiang Wang was a student at the University of California, Berkeley back in 2006, when he chanced upon a seminar that changed his life—a seminar later made into the film An Inconvenient Truth.
Of course, the seminar’s topic was climate change and the presenter was former Vice President Al Gore. But at the time, Weixiang (MBA '18, Sustainability Certificate) knew little about either. “I was blown away by the presentation and how human activities are contributing to climate change,” he recalls. “I knew right away I wanted to be involved in sustainability.”
Weixiang graduated from Berkeley with two undergraduate degrees—one in chemical engineering and one in economics. Back in his native Singapore, he began a fifteen-year career with the city-state’s Economic Development Board, working in cleantech, global operations, and new ventures. During that time, he was also a founding member of the multi-agency Clean Energy Programme Office, responsible for growing the cleantech industry in Singapore. But Weixiang knew he had more to learn. In 2017, he became an MIT Sloan Fellow and connected with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.
“The Sustainability Initiative gave me the opportunity to deepen my understanding of sustainability and climate change, in particular the nexus of technology, public policy, and human behavior.”
Courses like System Dynamics with John Sterman, who also served as Weixiang’s Sustainable Business Lab (S-Lab) project faculty advisor, continue to resonate with him. “I still clearly remember John’s lessons from the Beer Game and En-ROADS Climate Action Simulation. Even today, whenever I consider any sustainability initiative or policy in my current role, I constantly remind myself that sustainability is a multi-stakeholder and complex topic, and it’s crucial to consider the interdependency, the feedback loops, and the time delays.”
While earning his Sustainability Certificate, Weixiang was the Sloan Fellows’ representative to the MIT Sloan Senate, where he was involved in efforts to increase diversity and inclusion among MIT Sloan candidates. Because of his international network, he was instrumental in bringing renowned speakers to MIT Sloan, including Philip Yeo, former chairman of Singapore Economic Development Board; and Nandan Nikelani, founder of Infosys and former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India.
Whenever I consider any sustainability initiative or policy in my current role, I constantly remind myself that sustainability is a multi-stakeholder and complex topic, and it’s crucial to consider the interdependency, the feedback loops, and the time delays.
Advancing environmental and sustainability policy
In 2021, never forgetting the inspiration of that Al Gore seminar, Weixiang became Divisional Director of Environmental Policy at Singapore’s Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment. He now leads a division responsible for formulating environmental and sustainability policies, including the Singapore Green Plan 2030. More recently, he was also appointed Deputy Government Chief Sustainability Officer to drive decarbonization and other sustainability measures for the Singapore public sector, as part of the "GreenGov.SG" initiative. In this role, Weixiang leads the Sustainability Partnerships Office, which manages the $50-million SG Eco Fund to support community projects that advance environmental sustainability.
Since independence, Singapore has sought to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability and social inclusion. Given the nation’s constraints as a small, highly-urbanized city-state, Weixiang knows he has his work cut out for him - but he remains optimistic.
“Singapore has recently committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the Singapore public sector will take the lead and achieve net zero emissions by around 2045, earlier than the net zero target for the country as a whole,” Weixiang says, “I am confident we will achieve or exceed targets in the coming years.”