5 Sustainability Wins From Singapore
Last Updated on October 29, 2020
So Many Wins!🙌
My family and I recently returned from an awesome trip to Singapore. While there, we were impressed by the number of sustainability initiatives underway. The country has a reputation for being clean & green, and it did not disappoint! We had a lovely stay, exploring its landmarks and tasting the delicious local flavors. We left satisfied, and with a lasting appreciation of the thoughtful sustainability management taking place.
1. Gloriously Green
One of the first things you’ll notice in Singapore is how richly green and verdant the island nation is. Of course, the heat might actually be the very first thing you take into account. It is very hot and humid! It hits you from the moment you leave the air-conditioned airport, until you peel off your sweat-soaked attire in your welcomely cool hotel room.
Stickiness aside however, the trees, plants, vines and flowers poking out all over the place are amazing! The multitude of flora will make you feel like you’ve somehow returned to Eden. If eden were simultaneously a city-state with over 5 million people. It’s a wonderful thing to witness. 🙂
On top of all the urban green, Singapore also boasts an extensive and stunning Botanical Gardens. Located right in the city’s central district, it really is an oasis. The gardens are gloriously green and majestic, filled with all kinds of spectacularly colored flowers.
The site also hosts an amazing children’s park, complete with a bunch of wandering animals (my son particularly enjoyed chasing around the roosters). We saw all kinds of cool and vividly-colored plants, as we zigzagged through the many green-canopied walkways. The shade kept us relatively fresh as we wandered the pathways.
The green canopy was a clear reminder that trees really do provide a practical cooling effect. Along with the oxygen & aesthetics of course! Definitely well worth the maintenance. Indeed, the paths & roadways were constantly groomed by a whole army of landscapers! Throughout our entire trip, we saw countless individuals working to keep the place pristine and alluring.
2. Recognizing Water’s Importance
Another key element of a sustainable city is of course, water. In that regard, Singapore has some amazing water management going on. With limited access to freshwater, the Singapore government has actively encouraged innovation and conservation.
One infamous example of this, is the recycling of toilet water (see Last Call At The Oasis). According to recent reports, Singapore meets about 40% of its water demands with reclaimed water. On top of that, they also have systems in place to collect water from the frequent rainfalls. It’s referred to as urban water harvesting. This is accomplished through a sophisticated network of drains, channels, and reservoirs (for more on their collection systems check out the PUB – The Public Utilities Board).
Clearly, Singaporeans have recognized water for the precious resource it is. And they are working on upping that. Indeed, the government of Singapore is continually developing ways to improve upon their water management.
3. Moving Along
Singapore also boasts an awesome public transportation system. With a state-of-the-art clean and user-friendly subway network (MRT), you get get to where you’re going cheaply, efficiently, and on time.
For those who opt for the bus, there are multitudes of these double deckers rolling by with convenient frequency. I did manage to hop a few with my little one, and it was pleasant experience. He spent the time glued to the window, soaking in all the sites.
The Singapore Squeeze
Another means of traffic control is through the use of fees. Singapore charges substantial fees for anyone who want to own a car. Would-be drivers need to pay something in the range of $100k for the license and duty fees! And that’s simply to have the right to own a car (for approximately 10 years). It’s infamously steep!
As such, many have chosen to rely on the sweet public transport system. It was also surprisingly cheaper than what I payed in either Canada or Japan. In addition, the roads are immaculate (yet another bonus of those car taxes, smooth & maintained roads). Definitely a far stretch from the notoriously potted streets of my native Montreal.
4. If You Build It…
Singapore has grown exponentially since its independence (in 1965), developing into an economic powerhouse. In keeping with its prosperity, it has also been building up a storm! Thankfully, they’re also considering energy reduction and environmental impact. Indeed, the country is host to some pretty impressive infrastructure. What makes it even cooler, is how they’re becoming increasingly efficient and more sustainable.
One would expect nothing less from a country that has figured out that it needs to manage its very limited surface area. It’s considered the Asian Wakanda for good reason! The buildings are often stylish, smart, and well-integrated with green.
The emphasis on innovation and sustainability also makes for some extraordinary architecture! For a taste, check out some of the iconic buildings pictured above. Probably best-known is the massive and luxurious Marina Bay Sands. Their soaring towers preside over the skyline with what appears to be a surfboard (equipped with a spectacular infinity pool) across 3 towers.
Then there’s the double-dome structure called the Esplanade Theater. It’s where you’ll find the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and a host of other musical delights. Its unique shape also gives rise to its alternate name, “the Durian.” It’s a tasty-smelly fruit that many locals adore (see Great Big Story).
There is plenty of other fascinating architecture to discover! However to complete my round up of the top landmarks in Singapore, I have to mention the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, and finally the flavor-filled Telok Ayer (Hawker) Market. Both are worthy of your admiration and potential visit. 😉
There are all kinds of other extraordinary buildings and environmentally-friendly designs that make Singapore worthy of research and exploration. But having awesome infrastructure also implies something more. It also means that the island nation’s transport arteries run smoothly and efficiently. And it doesn’t stop there.
Once again, Singapore is pushing the limits in an effort to maximize efficiency, optimization, and sustainability. Its continued investment in infrastructure generates all kinds of developments in harnessing energy, maximizing water resources, and even increasing local agricultural output (think vertical and rooftop farms).
Finally, some of the most remarkable and inspiring structures to be seen in Singapore are its collection of Supertrees (cover pic). There are 18 of these colossal “trees” that are covered in all manner of plants and light up the night with solar-powered wonder. They were designed to service various sustainable functions, in keeping with the trees that they were meant to emulate.
5. Emission Control
My final point is directly related to the climate crisis. Singapore has demonstrated genuine efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Although they are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, they have indicated their intent to migrate towards renewables.
Indeed, there’s more solar power popping up all around the country, as well as the development of floating solar (see above). Singapore appears to be taking its climate commitments seriously. The country has recently implemented a carbon tax (rolled out this month), which they plan on raising aggressively over time (The Straits Times). Hopefully, we will soon see a significant reduction in fossil fuels as a result.
Singapore has shown that is recognizing the need for sustainable management. From what I could see, it has done a pretty good job of implementing it so far. I’m excited to see what they have planned next, and what other innovations they can share with the world! For more on Singapore’s leading edge techniques, check out this episode of National Geographic’s City of the Future posted below. Enjoy!
National Geographic’s City of the Future: Singapore