by Robert Barossi
The new month starts with a fascinating story out of Singapore. Back when I was talking to volunteers for my book, many of them talked about how they were often asked to be authority figures, of a sort. For example, trail stewards were given the authority to tell other trail users to stop littering or pick up their trash. While they weren’t any type of official law enforcement representative, they were given the ability to act in an enforcement role.
A new law in Singapore takes this a step further, and a number of people are concerned. Volunteers are being given the right and ability to enforce environmental laws, such as the ability to hand out citations to other citizens who are caught littering. These volunteers will work for the National Environment Agency, which has offered some assurances, such as background checks for the volunteers and a training period during which they’ll work with NEA officers. Still, opposition voices have raised questions regarding the appropriateness and necessity of giving these kinds of powers to volunteers. Another article on the new law offers a few different perspectives on these issues.
If you enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, check out my eBook for many more environmental volunteer stories – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day