Singapore’s story is one that demonstrates the importance of resilience thinking for cities.
Singapore’s transformation over the past five decades has been remarkable–from a fledgling nation state plagued by pollution, corruption, social unrest, and other urban challenges to a clean, safe, liveable and sustainable city today.
Since it gained independence, Singapore has taken an integrated, and strategic approach to creating and implementing its plans. By developing plans with both 50-year and 10-year time horizons and designing multiple benefits into every intervention, Singapore has become a living lab for the value of resilience thinking.
In this Resilience Narrative, Singapore has documented how it has been successful in implementing its resilience plans and overcoming its challenges. But it has also asked some difficult questions and recognised continued challenges that will shape Singapore’s future. The two challenges of climate change and changing demographics that Singapore has identified resonate with many cities around the world. This publication outlines what Singapore can and needs to do to further its resilience when dealing with such challenges.
There is still much room to enable awareness and foster actions. For example, many Singaporeans may find it difficult to understand the urgent need to take action on climate change as we do not experience major natural disasters. Even when extreme events are felt, such as flash floods or heat waves, many feel climate change as something beyond them or it is the “government’s responsibility” to do something about it.
There is scope for the community, be it individuals or businesses, to be better educated and engaged on the risks and challenges arising from climate change and be encouraged to be part of the action. We must start a conversation across the community about the impacts of climate change, and conduct it in a manner that is accessible and facilitates different stakeholders’ participation in coming up with solutions.
Some actions are underway or planned to support the push from awareness to action:
As part of the Paris Agreement, Singapore pledged to reduce our emissions intensity (emissions per dollar of GDP) by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise our emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. Singapore’s Climate Action Plan released in 2016 outlines our strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Singapore’s carbon tax is an efficient method of maintaining a transparent and consistent carbon price signal across the economy to incentivise emissions reduction where cost is lowest. The Climate Action Plan, launched in 2016, sets out four strategies to achieve a carbon-efficient Singapore: improving energy and carbon efficiency reducing carbon emissions in power generation; developing and deploying low-carbon technology; and encouraging collective climate action. The carbon tax will enhance and support these climate change strategies.
Developing an Integrated Toolkit on Resilience Thinking for Cities
Drawing on Singapore’s experience and the 100RC’s network and resources, CLC will be working with 100RC to research and develop an integrated toolkit that seeks to help cities better understand and apply key principles and actions for building resilience, such as applying resilience thinking in planning and development. The toolkit will reference principles from the Singapore Liveability Framework and City Resilience Framework, and learn from best practices from CLC’s and 100RC’s networks.
Resilience needs to be built at all levels, right down to the individual. Everyone has a part to play to understand the challenges and work together to come up with solutions. Singapore has embarked on and will continue with the many ongoing and pipeline efforts to reach out and co-create solutions with various stakeholders to address our resilience challenges.
Colabs is a philanthropic initiative by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) that brings together the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues. It enables philanthropists, businesses, and non-profits sector experts with a common focus to build insights and co-create solutions together.
The collaborative process typically comprises three stages. First, stakeholders go on a learning journey to gain in-depth knowledge of social causes. With new insights, members with similar interests identify opportunities to work together on a problem and get behind a common agenda. Lastly, they share resources and expertise, working together to achieve their shared vision for social change.
In 2017, Colabs focused on children and youth. In 2018, Colabs examined issues around two other communities—persons with disabilities, and seniors.
To enliven our common spaces and forge community spirit in our estates, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) came up with the Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund in 2016. The fund supports residents’ ground up activities and has been well-received, with some 50 projects island-wide. Some of the projects involve physical works like converting a grass patch to a play and gardening yard, while others include handicraft and gardening workshops.
All of these initiatives are created by the community, for the community. The funding cap for the programme has since been increased from $10,000 to $20,000 so that residents can plan larger-scale and more impactful community projects. The fund has also been extended to the Merchants’ Associations within the HDB heartlands, so they too, can make use of this resource to enliven HDB spaces near their businesses.
Empowering Our Youth
Engaging youth is a key priority for the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth (MCCY). Building on past efforts, such as the National Youth Forum and YouthSPEAK, the Youth Conversations was launched in April 2018 to provide a sustained platform for the government to engage youth, and gather their views, concerns and aspirations.
The Youth Conversations aims to strengthen our social compact with youths, and build strong national identity by giving them a stake in the country. Youth will be able to meet peers with diverse perspectives, have a say in key policy issues that affect them, as well as co-create and co-deliver solutions with the government.