Singapore offers lessons for sustainable cities

The Asian city-state is proof that integrated urban planning is the key to creating sustainable, attractive and liveable cities, says Xiao Wu from the World Bank.

Xiao Wu, who works in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice of the World Bank, visited Singapore at the end of June. Her visit, which was co-organised by the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC), was part of a learning week aimed at strengthening urban sustainability and peer-to-peer learning among cities.

In an article published on the GPSC website, Xiao Wu emphasises a few key takeaways from her visit.

First, she argues that Singapore’s successful urbanisation is based on a holistic approach that combines environmental protection and a human-centered development strategy. For example, she calls the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park “an innovative project example of green infrastructure” that offers multiple benefits including flood control and increased tree coverage, as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle for all citizens, including seniors who can perform gardening activities in a dedicated social green space.

Second, Singapore has a greenery incentive scheme that encourages the construction of buildings with vertical planting or rooftop gardens. According to Xiao Wu, integrating a community climate cooling strategy into green urban development not only reduces the heat island effect, but also provides recreational space and attracts tourism.

Finally, Xiao Wu commends Singapore’s Urban Development Authority (URA) for creating a database that integrates data from other authorities, such as population, housing, land use, infrastructure, transportation and social services, to encourage inter-agency collaboration and support decision making. As the database is open to the public, it also fosters citizen participation.

In Xiao Wu’s opinion, many of Singapore’s solutions can be “readily adapted to help developing countries embark on a pathway for a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future”.

Image credit: Sergio Sala via Unsplash


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