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In today's globalised world, many cities face many common challenges such as climate change, urbanisation, demographic shifts, shrinking resources, among others. These threats impact all cities alike, no matter their size, developed or developing. Singapore is not different, it faces various threats from different aspects . This essay attempts to study the threats, challenges Singapore will face in the future and coming out solutions.
Singapore, officially theÂ Republic of Singapore. SingaporeÂ is located in the southern tip of theÂ Malay Peninsula, inÂ Southeast Asia. The island country is separated fromÂ MalaysiaÂ by theÂ Straits of JohorÂ to its north, and fromÂ Indonesia'sÂ Riau IslandsÂ by theÂ Singapore StraitÂ to its south. Singapore is located between the east and west. It was established as a trading port under theÂ BritishÂ colony in the earlyÂ 19th century. Its strategic location at one of the crossroads of the world between the east and west has helped it grow into a major centre for finance and transport hub in the region.
Singapore has come a long way since its independence in 1965. From a city faced with problems of overcrowding, poor living conditions and a severe lack of infrastructure, it has emerged as a thriving city characterised by a high standard of living in a clean and green environment.
Today, Singapore stands as the No.3 Financial Centre in the world and is Asia's top expatriate city playing a key role in international trade and finance. It ranks as the city with the highest quality of living in Asia and is positioned as an Alpha+ world city alongside cities like Paris and Tokyo. Singapore's achievements and transformations over the years were recently recognised by the World Bank in its annual World Development Report 2009, lauding the city as a model of development with special mention of its sound policies in urbanisation.
Singapore is a very densely populated city, with little natural resources and an open economy. It has a population of close to five million people on a small island. Despite facing so many threats, Singapore government are working very hard to ensure that her people have a clean, green, and comfortable environment to live in. The Major threats that Singapore is facing is Land limitation, Over population and lack of resources.
Singapore has a total land area of 700Â kmÂ² and 193Â km of coastline. It is make up ofÂ 63 islands, including mainland Singapore. The distances of island is about 42 km from west to east and 23 km from north to south. Little land is left for future development after land is being occupied by homes and offices, factories and other facilities of the city. To counter the problem, land reclamationÂ projects was carried out from 1960s, Since then, Singapore's land area grew from 581.5Â km2Â in the 1960s to 704Â km2 today, and may grow by another 100Â km2Â (38.6 sqÂ mi) by 2030.Â ^Â "Towards Environmental Sustainability, State of the Environment 2005 Report (PDF)". Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore. Retrieved 22 April 2010.The Land reclamation was carried out in its costal line and sometimes merging smaller islands to form larger, more functional islands.
Singapore is the cosmopolitanÂ world city. The country is the second most densely populated in the world afterÂ Monaco. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_population_density Singapore has a long history ofÂ immigration.
Singapore is a truly a multi cultural country, it has a diverse population of close to 5Â million people made up ofÂ Chinese,Â Malays,Â Indians,Â AsiansÂ of various descents, andÂ Caucasians.Â Â "Statistics Singapore - Latest Data". Singstat.gov.sg. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 42% of the population in Singapore are foreigners who work and study there. Foreign workers make up 50% of the service sector. Population Trends 2009", Singapore Department of Statistics
80 percent of Singapore population live in 900,000 HDB flats across the island which built by Singapore housing development board (HDB). HDB housing programme is to providing affordable and good quality housings which meet the needs of residents. As Singapore is a multi-race, religious and cultural society. There is a balanced mix of residents from different race groups in every HDB neighborhood and block to encourage interaction and foster cohesion. In this way, members of different race, religion, and society can share common experiences with each other and forge a common identity.
Lack of natural resources
As Singapore is a city-state with not much land area thus it has no natural resources such as coal, oil, or natural gas. The economy is dependent very much on imported oil and natural gas. Currently natural gas accounts for 80 per cent of the electricity generation. It has gradually move to natural gas as it emits 40% less CO2 than fuel oil. http://www.tradechakra.com/economy/singapore/singapore-natural-resources-94.phpTo cope up with the increasing demand for energy, the Singapore Government has taken initiative in developing the technology such as the use of bio mass as a source of renewable energy.
Lack of water resources
With no river and lakes, Singapore's only indigenous source of water is rainfall collected in its 15 reservoirs. In a country like Singapore, where land is precious, there is no rooms for building more reservoirs. The water supply is far not enough for domestic use, so Singapore has had to turn to neighbouring Malaysia to make up the shortfall. Today, Singapore draws water from Johor under two agreement the 1961 deal expires in 2011, While the 1962 agreement runs until the year 2061. The government are exploring options for other sources of water, and trying to restrain water consumption through tax rises and public campaigns. Two other sources are being considered by the authorities are importing water from Indonesia and desalinating sea water. Singaporeans will have pay more as the cost of both desalination and supplies from Indonesia as both case are not cost efficient.
Challenge and Solution:
With limited land, lack of natural resources, and over population as the major threats, the key challenge of Singapore in the future is to continue to sustain economic growth and ensure a high quality of life of her people through careful planning. The challenge can be divided into three forms of sustainability: environmental , economic and social sustainability.
Making better use of land
The Greatest problem that Singapore is facing is the lack of land. There is a need to make more creative and innovative use of land to meet future needs. As there are not much land left for future development, the only room available is going up and down. Super tall buildings and underground spaces are two of the solution to counter the problem.
Super tall buildings
From people living in crowded slums and squatter settlements with no proper sanitation, lighting or ventilation to 80 percent of the Singapore population living in HDB flats. HDB has come a long way since forming in 1960. Currently the highest HDB blocks is Pinnacle @ Duxton which has 50 storey. Period to that, the average height of the HDB blocks is between 12-18 storey in the 80s and 90s and some 30 storey in the 2000s.
The Pinnacle@Duxton is the first 50-storey public housing project in Singapore.
It has many unique features that set it apart from other HDB housing projects.Â
Located at the site where the first two HDB blocks in that area were built, it has 7 towering blocks which housing 1,848 apartments. The towers are link together at 26th and 50th storey by skybridges forming possibly the longest continuous skygardens in the world. The skybridges create offering panoramic views of the city skyline. The skybridage provide facilities for the residents include a Recreation centre, jogging track, outdoor gym, playground, community plaza, fitness corner and two view decks.Â
To overcome the constraint of land scarcity, more high-rise high-density buildings like Pinnacle @ Duxton will be build in the future for optimisation of land use, The building height will continue to grow in the future to accommodate its growing population. As the buildings goes higher, the levels of activity will move up too resulting in more sky parks and linkages. lifting up of communal spaces will make way of land for other usage.
Underground space can be design to link different facilities together and making the land to full use. one of the pioneer example in Singapore is the CityLink MallÂ which designed by world-renowned New York architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox. It is located between City Hall MRT and One Raffles Link. There are over 50 shops in the mall which has an area of 60,000 sq ft of retail space. http://www.citylinkmall.com/about It connects City Hall MRT StationÂ andÂ Esplanade MRT Station and various facilities of the area together. As result, it save valuable land and creates better connectivity of the area.
Decentralisation through new growth centres
In order to sustain economic growth and retain quality living environment, decentralisation of the Commercial activity can be a key strategy. Although the core financial and commercial activities remain in the city centre i.e. the CBD and Marina Bay area, a portion of economic activities are diverted to the regional and sub-regional centres.
In this way, it extends business opportunities out of the city centre, rejuvenating and invigorating the regional centres. As a result, it brings jobs and recreational opportunities closer to residential areas, and offers better job distribution island-wide. Secondly, the labour force's need to commute is reduced, thus easing congestion in the city centre and lightening the burden on the transportation infrastructure. This will in turn increase the efficiency of business activities in the existing financial districts.These towns are very self efficient as they include major facilities such as Â factories ,hospital, sports facilities, schools, shopping malls to create. This is to create a Work-Live-Learn-Play environment within the town.
Social sustainability is another important factor in sustain Singapore's future development and also a key consideration in public housing. It can be achieve by improving the quality of life and enhancing Sense of Identity of its people. The quality of life can be enhanced by creating a pleasant residential environment and providing the essential amenities to support the neighborhoods. At the same time retaining Singapore's built and natural heritage to foster the sense of belonging and promote social integration.
Rejuvenation of old Towns
With nearly one-third of HDB flats reach 40 to 50 year age old in the future, and the change in demographic profile. Rejuvenation to the old town are necessary and essential to ensure their long-term sustainability of the country as there is no much room for new estates. The upgrading programme will improve the living condition of the residents and also helps to sustain the value of the flats, without uprooting the residents from their familiar environment and community. Addition to that, New additional housing development and amenities are to be integrated into the old town to enhance the living environment of the residents by transforming these old estates into attractive living spaces. The rejuvenation projects will give these mature towns a fresh look, offering residents a new feel to their old estates, and simultaneously bettering their living environment.
Retaining Precious Built HeritageÂ
Retaining of Precious Built Heritage is important in the future despite the demand of land to meet developmental and economic objectives. Conservation programme of national building will help strengthens roots, and sense of belonging to this place. They are not mere architectural symbols of the past; they are Singaporean's links to their heritage.
Old buildings can be transform into other usage and add charm and variety to the modern city. Take Boat Quay for example. The two and three storey shophouses in the area were preserved and transformed into bustling shops,Â restaurantsÂ andÂ bars.
It demonstrates how old, low-rise buildings can hold their own against a backdrop of soaring skyscrapers and even complement them.
Environmental sustainability will be especially crucial for city like Singapore so lack of natural resources. It can be achieve by:
Efficient transport network
Infrastructural development is essential in every global city to sustain economic growth and achieve high quality of living. In particular, the provision of an efficient transportation system is integral to the functions of a city. To cater to the needs that arise from Singapore's development, Priority has to be given to the use of public transport to meet the increasing transportation needs. As Singapore is land-scarce, public transportation is the more effective and efficient mode of transport. In particular, more new rail lines need to build to improve the public transport system so that there is less reliance on private transportation. Additional to that, higher-density housing and commercial developments should be located around and integrated with rail transit. This will also helps to encourage the use of public transportation.
Energy generation and Rainwater collection:
As Singapore's economic is very much dependent on imported oil and natural gas. The situation will get worse in the future due to the deplete of oil. There is a urgent need to find alternative sources of energy. Neither the prevailing wind speed and the tidal wave is high and strong enough to be generate large amount of energy with the current technology. Solar energy can be the option. Singapore is very near to equatorial, it has tremendous potential to tap solar energy. But the main setback is the lack of availability of land for massive solar fields. However, one area which can be explore is the roof of the HDB flats. With 900,000 HDB flats, the among of energy generated can be massive.
Other than solar harvesting, the abundant rainfall of Singapore can also be explored. The roof can be shaped or tilted to harvest rainwater. The collected rainwater can be store for domestic usage such as for watering the plants and flashing the toilet and car washing ect.
Protecting Singapore's Natural HeritageÂ
The tree-lined streets and lushly landscaped parks and open spaces within the city will enhance Singapore's image as a 'City in a Garden'. Despite limited land and a high population density, Singapore has rich biodiversity with nine per cent of its land area is retain as green space and nature reserves. They are homes to more than 2,300 species of plants, 300 species of birds and a large variety of animals. http://www.ura.gov.sg/MP2008/intro/page3.htm Despite high demand of land of other sector, retaining all four Nature Reserves and eighteen Nature Areas is crucial in achieving Environmental sustainability. Capitalising on green assets and waterbodies will be key strategy in keeping the natural heritage.
Nature areas should be merge or connect to town parks so that they can be retained and easily accessible for public. Park connectors such as trails and promenades can be developed to linking parks at different regions. In this way, it will provides a seamless route for activities such as jogging and cycling. This will multiply the experience of park users without the need to set aside more land.
To capitalise on the waterbodies, more existing reservoirs should be opened up for water activities such as fishing and kayaking. The Marina Barrage, which is the first reservoir located in the heart of the city, is a good example of such utilisation of existing waterbodies. The barrage is a dam comprises nine 30m long steel crest gate which built across the 350m wide Marina Channel. It separates seawater from freshwater to creates a new fresh water reservoir. Marina catchment is the Singapore's 15th and largest with a catchment area of 10,000 hectares. It boosts Singapore's water catchment from half to two-thirds of the country's land area. As its water level will be kept constant all year round unaffected by the tides. It is very suitable for all kinds of recreational activities such as boating, windsurfing, kayaking and dragon boating.
As discussed thus far, the key thrusts that prepare Singapore for the future challenges will be very much depend on economic sustainability, social and environmental sustainability.
Singapore need to plan and use its limited land wisely and ensure there are enough space for future development. Existing infrastructure and facilities around the island will also need to be expanded and upgraded to bolster the entire business environment, in an effort to cement Singapore as a global business and financial hub. In the same time, comprehensive approach also need to implement towards both residential and recreational components, making Singapore more lively and livable. However, these measures should have little impact on environment and use resources efficiently.