Singapore Green Plan
Since the turn of this century, Singapore has experienced phenomenal economic growth. In 1992, Singapore established its first Green Plan (SGP). It was a master strategy for environmental improvement with a vision to transform Singapore into a healthier and model green city by the year 2000. Government and non-government agencies monitored activities and gathered extensive public feedback. The resulting 2002 Singapore Green Plan 2012 (SGP2012) is a 10-year national blueprint to build a sustainable environment with an update every three years. The 2002 Green Plan focused on meeting the challenges of sustaining Singapore's environmental vision despite increasing population and development pressures. In 2006, the effects of particulates and climate change became the dominant focus of the Revised Green Plan 2012.
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Beyond Environmental Maintenance
Singapore has already accomplished a number of its environmental goals, while remaining goals are likely to be met in the original timeframe of SGP2012. However, Singapore must go beyond the maintenance of present environmental standards in order to achieve environmental sustainability in the future. For example, Singapore's current pollution control policies have helped improve air quality, but they will not effectively mitigate the effects of climate change with necessary key components such as the reduction of carbon dioxide and energy efficiency.
Singapore’s SGP2012 achievements include:
- As of 2006, Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) for clean air quality were well within the target set by the Singapore Green Plan 2012.
- Between 2000 and 2005 recycling and Singapore’s one landfill have contained the growth of waste. The lifespan of the landfill continues to rise as it is used less.
- Improved vector and food-borne disease control methods, clean public toilet programs, healthy grading systems for hawker centers, and education of good hygiene habits have raised public health.
- Water conservation has decreased domestic consumption though Singapore’s population continues to grow. Water diversification has provided Singapore with a sustainable water supply, though its local supply is scarce.
- Excellent public transport options have curtailed traffic.
- Four nature reserves and eighteen nature areas covering 23% of Singapore's landmass have maintained Singapore’s identity as a 'garden city'.
Protected Nature Reserves and Forests
Singapore nurtures its "garden city" image. Though Singapore is a small country with relatively high population, it has succeeded in protecting its environmental inheritance through Nature Reserves. The country’s four Nature Reserves, totaling 3347 ha (13 sq.mi), have been accorded legal protection through Singapore's National Parks Act. They serve multiple functions that range from maintenance of ecological life processes and scientific research to education and recreation. The Nature Reserves and other forests cover 23% of Singapore's land area, although some of these include secondary growth forests with few species, and planted trees. Primary rainforests include The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore Botanic Gardens Rainforest, and portions of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, an internationally renowned preserve for migratory shorebirds, has been one of the sites of the East Asian Australiasian Shorebird Network since 2002 as well as Singapore's ASEAN Heritage Park.
Diversified Water Supply
Singapore has managed to cope with a grim water scarcity through innovative diversification of its water supply. The Public Utilities Board (PUB), the water agency that manages Singapore's water supply, has created a diversified and sustainable supply of water through its 'Four National Taps' strategy. All Singaporeans participate in the first 'Tap' through conserving water and by maintaining clean catchments and waterways. The other three 'Taps' include importing water through pipes from Johor Bahru in Malaysia, using recycled water through the use of membrane-based technology (NEWater), and using reverse-osmosis technology to provide drinking water through desalination of seawater.
NEWater exceeds drinking water standards set by both the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The first step is microfiltration/ultrafiltration, in which water is pumped through polypropylene hollow fibres membranes. These membranes have pore sizes 100 times smaller than human hair and produce filtered water that is crystal clear. Then reverse osmosis removes organics, dissolved salts and remaining viruses. An added barrier takes the water through ultra-violet disinfection. Finally the high-grade water’s acid-alkali or pH balance is restored.
Managing the demand for water is one-half the equation; the other half is consumption conservation. Domestic consumption fell from 165 litres/day in 1999 to 160 litres/day in 2005. The latest target, set in 2005, aims to lower consumption to 155 litres/day by 2012.
Water consumption has fallen thanks to community outreach initiatives like the Water Efficient Homes (WEH) programme, instillation of water thimbles (to reduce water flow from the tap) and low-capacity flushing cisterns in the HDB flats. One in three households has installed water saving devices, which save up to 5% of their monthly water expenses.
In addition, the Public Utilities Board's (PUB) "Conserve, Value and Enjoy" motto and its ABC and Our Waters Programmes educates the public about the importance of clean waterways. The ABC Waters Programme integrates catchments, reservoirs and waterways to create clean waters. These are used for recreational purposes and to build attachment to the water. The Our Waters Programme was launched to get 3P partners (People, Private, and Public sectors) to adopt waterways or reservoirs for at least two years, by maintaining their facilities and the amenities around them. By December 2005, 16 organizations had already responded.
Singapore has a rigorous compulsory public education system, resulting in one of the highest literacy rates in Asia, at 95%. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement study ‘Trends in International Mathematics and Science’ ranked Singapore 1 out of 46 economies in all of its four criteria. Since 1998, the Environmental Studies module has been compulsory at the National Institute of Education/Nanyang Technological University for all arts and science undergraduate degree courses. The module's aim is to develop environmental consciousness into personal responsibility and civic participation through positive action and community partnerships. The Ministry of the Environment supports these relationships by facilitating networks between employers, employees, civic groups, educators and the media.
Singapore's urban planning housing policies distinguish it from virtually the rest of the developed world. Currently, 86% of Singapore's population lives in apartment flats built by the Ministry of National Development. Over 90% of Singapore residents own their own homes/flats, a rate unmatched in any other country. Such extensive home ownership creates social cohesion by encouraging involvement in the city's civic affairs and instigating discussions about communities' quality-of-life.
Congestion Free Transportation
Unlike other gridlocked urban centers around the world, Singapore is rarely congested. Government promotion of public transportation over private transport has had clear results: rail, buses, and taxis are Singaporeans' preferred modes of transportation. Around half the population makes 5 million daily trips on public transportation.
The public transport system is regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which encourages the use rail, buses and taxis. Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) rail system consist of five lines. The Public Transport Council, an independent body, regulates fare and bus service standards.
Due to high taxes on private vehicles, only 1 citizen in 10 owns one. A successful congestion-charge system and the efficient public transport system provide an incentive to reside away from the Central district and reduce air pollution. The Port of Singapore is the world's busiest, surpassing Hong Kong and Shanghai, and is ranked as the Best Seaport in Asia. Singapore's containerized traffic is ranked second globally, with 21.3 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) handled in 2004. Singapore is the world's busiest hub for transshipment traffic.
Tourism is a major industry in Singapore and has been one of the leading reasons for its strong economic growth. 2006 was a record-breaking year for the Tourist industry. It grew 14.5% beyond 2005, exceeding 9 million visitors and generating about US $8.1B. Total visitor days grew 9% and reached 32.9 million days in 2006. Promotion strategies have concentrated on developing garden attractions, modern hotels, and marketing Singapore as an 'Instant Asia': a melting pot where one can see the confluence of multiple Asian cultures. Singapore's rich cuisine is a cultural attraction in itself – it is one of the most heavily promoted attractions alongside shopping. Tourism is convenient, since public transportation is available between popular venues. In addition, Singapore's natural heritage conservation programs include tourists and are environmentally friendly.
Food Capital of Asia
In the 1950-60s, it was the popular consensus that food sold on the street was unhygienic. The areas around food stands were populated with various animals and pests, and the stands themselves did not have running water or cleaning facilities. Pressure from local authorities updated areas with a high number of food vendors and raised their hygiene and safety standards. There is a multi-pronged approach to maintain hygiene: the surveillance of imported food, control and licensing of food factories or retail outlets, inspection of these premises, public education and enforcement.
Now Singapore has become a food capital of Asia, with cuisine viewed as a prime example of the continent’s ethnic diversity. Some dishes introduce elements of all three cultures (Chinese, Malay, and Indian), while others incorporate influences from the rest of Asia and the West. Singapore's wide price-range of local and international cuisine has helped shape the nation's identity as a 'food paradise.'
Although Singapore’s clean public toilet campaign began 20 years ago, it did not produce results until recently. Nowadays, Public toilets no longer cause embarrassment, largely due to the established the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) in 1998. The RAS became the root of the global toilet organization, the World Toilet Organization [http://www.worldtoilet.org/], which has been a global network and platform for all toilet associations since 2001.
Green Plan 2012’s grading system, awards and training have improved public toilets’ standard of cleanliness. RAS launched the Happy Toilets Program in 2003, to recognize well-made public toilets. They are judged based on three categories: design, cleanliness and daily maintenance. The Happy Toilets Program awards three- to five-star ratings for each public toilet, and has raised the overall standards of Singapore’s toilets. RAS has been working closely with the 3P sectors, i.e. public, private and people sectors. Its collaboration with the 3P sectors has been the cornerstone of Happy Toilet Program’s success, and has raised the benchmark for all restrooms. The National Environment Agency (NEA) has partnered with RAS to implement the Happy Toilet Program, in recognition of public toilet owners’ efforts to improve their toilets’ cleanliness.
Touted as a “clean and green” city, Singapore employs over 1,850 workmen who clean public areas, including sidewalks, drains, and pavements. Every day they clean 6,242 km of Singapore’s curbs. The Ministry of the Environment (MEWR) employs mechanical sweepers to clean 51,000 km of roads and highways per month. MEWR’s long-term program aims to mechanize city cleaning as much as possible. This includes the use of pavement sweeper machines, mechanized drain cleansing equipment and re-design of trash cans to enhance cleansing operations.
Green Vehicle Rebate
The Green Vehicle Rebate was strengthened in 2006 in order to reduce emissions and promote more energy efficient vehicles, such as hybrid cars. The discount increased from 20% to a 40% on the Open Market value. Since then, the number of green vehicles has increased from about 200 in 2005 to about 1,000 in 2007. In addition to increasing the rebate on the purchase of green vehicles, Singapore requires car dealers to affix "fuel economy labels" to vehicles at the point of sale, in order to provide users with information on the vehicle's fuel economy.
Singapore is located between Malaysia and Indonesia in Southeastern Asia. In Sanskrit, "Singapura" means "Lion City.” According to Singaporean legend, the island was named Lion city by prince Sri Tri Buana. After surviving a harrowing shipwreck, he landed on the main island and saw a strange creature that he mistook for a lion. Currently, this small city-state includes 63 islands, many of which have been expanded and joined together to accommodate its growing population. Despite reclamation projects that add soil from hills, from the seabed, and from neighboring countries, Singapore is barely three and a half times the size of Washington, DC.
Singapore’s deep-water ports made the city an important stop on trade routes until the early 1600s. In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles established a British port on the main island. At the time the population had numbered about 150, but around hundred years later (1911) it mushroomed to 185,000. Though under British control, Singapore had for the most part been self-governed, except during Japan’s three-year occupation in WWII. In 1959 the leading People's Action Party agreed to have Singapore join the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963. Singapore’s participation in the Federation was short-lived, and in 1965 it declared independence and reverted to a British-style parliamentary government.
After gaining independence in 1965, Singapore struggled with housing shortages, high levels of illiteracy, unemployment, poor sanitation, an inadequate clean water supply, and illegal dumping on precious acres of developable land. The once thriving port at the mouth of the Singapore River was deteriorating. The government formed various boards to promote manufacturing and provide practical training. With the introduction of new and refurbished housing, access to clean water, and disposal facilities, street vendors could establish permanent areas to hawk their wares. The government soon launched a massive clean-up of the Singapore River and revitalized the port.
The current Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) began as the Ministry of the Environment. Twenty years after the Ministry was formed, Singapore unveiled the first Singapore Green Plan (SGP) at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio. The SGP outlined a plan to transform Singapore into a model green city with high public health standards by the year 2000. Government and non-government agencies monitored activities and provided public feedback. Since 2000, the region has experienced phenomenal economic growth.
Of the 4.5 million inhabitants today, 77% are Chinese and 13% are indigenous Malay. The national language is Malay, but English is the main language in education and government and is the nation’s lingua franca.
A new ten-year Singapore Green Plan 2012, launched in 2002, is set to meet the challenges of sustaining a quality environment and economy and meet global sustainability efforts. SGP2012 is reviewed and evaluated every three years. When it was revised in 2005, government moved potentially serious environmental issues such as Particulate Matter 2.5 and Climate Change to the forefront of national attention and action the next year.
Comprehensive Framework The Singaporean government assesses the environmental impact of each proposal to develop land. The Pollution Control Department (PCD) ensures that new buildings are not heavy polluters, are built in the correct zone, and do not pose egregious health and safety hazards. The Environmental Pollution Control Act (EPCA 1999) provides a comprehensive legislative framework that consolidates the preexisting laws on air, water, and noise pollution and hazardous substances control.
Urban Planning The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore's land management agency, preserves land though the nation’s small size and dense population make this task difficult. Through land reclamation, Singapore has grown at least 100 sq.km. since 1819. The tactics that increase efficiency include combining facilities, placing train and bus stations over each other, using storm water collection ponds under road flyovers, building stack factories and underground facilities. The use of new technologies minimizes development constraints. Such technologies include clean power stations, buffer zones that reduce fuel around polluting factories, and moving polluting industries off shore when possible. Singapore has enjoyed strong economic growth because of the attention given to the placement of high-rise buildings, public transport, public amenities, and land safeguarded for future development.
Transparency Singapore’s government is said to be the least corrupt among Asian nations and has a mostly transparent economy, though it’s political leadership is not transparent. It is ranked 5th worldwide according to the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2006. There are numerous Singaporean agencies that are fighting corruption by ethics training, publicity and punishing offenders. These efforts are allied to Singaporean concepts of good governance, laws and practices that contribute to the transparency, integrity, efficiency, accountability and rationality apparent in their society. Singapore has a competitive economic advantage because of its ethos of meritocracy and fairness, as well as the high quality of service its citizens expect.
In Harmony with Nature Singapore has developed green spaces for rest and recreation in the middle of urban areas, seeking to balance industrial and residential needs with environmental concerns. These sites are within Nature Reserves and must have three characteristics to be identified as a Nature Area: they must be rich in biodiversity, mature and not transient sites, and they must be sustainable. For example, in the larger Nature Reserves there is a concerted effort to reforest degraded areas, re-introduce of indigenous species, and continue the enhancement of indigenous ecosystems. Revised targets resulting from the 2005 Report include the establishment of more parks and green linkages that have educational and outreach centers and activities.
Product Stewardship and Polluter Pays Product stewardship seeks to create a product-centered approach to environmental protection by making producers and consumers responsible for the quality of the products. Singapore’s ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ program, a collaboration between National Environmental Agency's (NEA), NGOs, and industry associations, demonstrates that this system leads to improved air and water quality and an improved waste management system. In addition, NEA is working with industries to adopt cost-effective solutions for reducing packaging waste, which makes up about one-third of household waste. The government reached a Voluntary Packaging Agreement with manufacturers in June 2007, so that manufacturers use less packaging or opt for packaging materials that can be recycled. In conjunction with product stewardship, Singapore has adopted the 'Polluter Pays Principle', whereby a polluter bears the cost of mitigating pollution.
Four National Taps The diversification of water supplies has resulted in the "Four Taps Strategy". The first tap refers to catchments, an integrated series of 14 reservoirs and extensive drainage system to channel storm water into reservoirs and minimize flooding. It includes a Reservoir Integration Scheme to pump excess water from one reservoir into another for storage. The second tap is the import of water from Malaysia, made possible by two water agreements. Innovation and recent technological advances have created an affordable third tap of desalination for the island state. The fourth tap is reclaimed water, called "NEWater", which is sewer water that is processed through a comprehensive sewerage reticulation network and treated under effluent discharge standards at Water Reclamation Plants. It is then passed through advanced membrane technologies until it becomes potable. This process has been legitimized by more than 30,000 scientific tests.
Tax Incentive Schemes Tax incentive schemes have been developed in Singapore that are intended to lower business costs and support sustainability. All expenditures on energy-efficient equipment and pollution control equipment receive an accelerated 100% depreciation allowance tax incentive over a one-year period rather than the usual three to six years. Green Vehicle owners receive Green Vehicle Rebates consisting of upfront and road tax rebates. In 2004, a package was introduced to encourage owners of buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles to make an early switch from Euro II diesel vehicles to either Euro IV diesel vehicles or compressed natural gas vehicles before Euro IV standards were imposed in October 2006.
Air Quality Strategy The National Environment Agency (NEA), the custodian of air quality in Singapore, uses pollution prevention as its main strategy. All new industrial proposals are referred to the NEA during the planning stage for acceptance and appropriate building location. The NEA continues to evaluate the effectiveness of pollution control programs after operation has commenced, by monitoring of ambient air quality.
Concentrations of five pollutants under strict monitoring control include:
sulphur dioxide - exposures of high levels can impair respiratory functions, aggravate bronchitis and decrease the ability of our lungs to clear foreign particles. Industries and power plants are the key emitters of sulphur dioxide in Singapore.
carbon monoxide - are low in Singapore and have remained stable
nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels - are low in Singapore and have remained reasonably stable over the years.
Lead - a common pollutant in some cities but no longer an issue in Singapore since leaded petrol was completely phased out by 1998. Today, only a negligible amount of lead is released by industries.
PM10 - (Particulate Matter of 10 microns in size=1/5 the thickness of human hair) they are readily suspended in the air and easily breathed in capable of causing respiratory symptoms, decreased lung functions, asthma, and premature death. In Singapore, the main sources of PM10 are exhaust fumes from motor vehicles, power generation plants, industrial processes and transboundary pollution. With the exception of Smoke Haze Events in 1994 and 1997, the average levels of PM10 in Singapore have remained stable and below US EPA standards.
The NEA fine-tunes existing policies and creates new ones. It also carries out surprise inspections of facilities, using persuasion and reasoning to encourage compliance. However, the NEA has the ability to ensure compliance through the Environmental Pollution Control Act. In addition, the NEA actively educates polluters on clean alternatives, and the general public on their personal role in protecting the environment.
Sewage and Wastewater Management
The Public Utilities Board (PUB), primarily responsible for the supply and treatment of sewage and wastewater, is taking a three-pronged approach towards improving sanitation. They are renovating older sewage piping, providing covered sewage treatment tanks, and building more pipes for carrying treated water out to the sea. These projects are spread out through the end of the decade and will cost more than US$700M. Projects include adding four NEWater treatment plants to the six existing water reclamation plants (WRPs). The WRPs use the activated sludge process to treat the used water. The NEWater Plants use the treated effluent from the WRPs as feedwater to produce Newater using microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ltra violet disinfection. In addition, a deep tunnel sewerage system is currently in construction running almost the length of the island. Most existing industrial facilities have their own wastewater treatment systems to avoid penalties and ensure their effluent complies with the strict regulations.
As a policy focus and the foremost strategy to ensure sustainability of countries in the Asian and Pacific region, Green Growth aspires to eradiate extreme poverty in the region without compromising the environment. This approach seeks to harmonize the two imperatives of economic growth and environmental sustainability by promoting fundamental changes in production and consumption. Green Growth requires the introduction of new concept and system changes, such as Singapore's urban congestion-charge system.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) introduced Green Mark Awards in 2005 for developers and building owners who have shown their commitment to go green. It is a scheme that assesses the environmental performance and impact of buildings, promoting energy efficiency, water savings, a healthier indoor environment, and waste reduction. The National Library Building in Singapore is a flagship of green-building design in Asia, and among the first warded the Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest distinction in green and sustainable building by Singapore's government. As the appeal is intensifying among buyers and consumers, more residential projects are also going for the Green Mark. BCA will continue to promote the benefits of Green Mark buildings to buyers and end-users in order to create a critical mass and bring down the cost of green buildings further, so that they will provide even better value for money.
Management Strategies: Background
Urban Planning The Urban Redevelopment Board plans to create partially self-sufficient towns and districts, distributed according to 55 planning areas, which would be served by four regional centers. Since the regional centers share the commercial functions of the Central Area, Singapore’s central business district, they should reduce traffic overall. Each town or district possesses basic facilities and amenities, while their regional centers offer the same services on a smaller scale. Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit links the districts, thereby reducing strain on traffic, reducing pollution, and conserving space. The URA also manages parking lots; they set the bylaws for parking infringement, and provide information to the public regarding coupon and season parking.
In Harmony with Nature A planned National Biodiversity Reference Center will include a biodiversity hub for one-stop information for researchers, students, teachers and the public. In addition, there will be a comprehensive website on biodiversity with status reports, a platform for the public to discuss rare plant and animal sightings, and collaborative projects on biodiversity involving volunteers, non-government organizations and research institutions.
Air Quality Strategy The Planning Stage – Proposals to build new factories are rejected if they involve many toxic materials, are hazardous, or too energy- or water-intensive. Proposed factories that contain toxic materials are placed away from residential and water catchment areas. In order to pass, the proposed plant must have the equipment capable of treating and minimizing emissions. Before the facility is constructed, government officials inspect it in order to ensure that it complies with regulation.
Sewage and Wastewater Management The Public Utilities Board (PUB), is primarily responsible for the supply and treatment of sewage and wastewater. It uses a three-pronged approach: the renovation of older sewage piping, the provision of covered sewage treatment tanks, and the increase of pipes that carry treated water out to the sea. These projects should be completed within the decade and will cost more than US$700M. At the moment there are six water reclamation plants (WRPs) in place, which use the activated sludge process to treat the used water. In addition, there will be four NEWater treatment plants. The NEWater Plants use the treated effluent from the WRPs as feedwater to produce Newater using micro-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet disinfection. The PUB is also in the process of building a deep tunnel sewerage system, which runs along most of the island. Most industrial facilities have their own wastewater treatment systems to ensure their effluent complies with the strict regulations and thereby avoid penalties.
Green Growth Green Growth is an environmentally sustainable strategy that aspires to eradiate extreme poverty in the Asian and Pacific region without compromising the environment. It aims to fundamentally change production and consumption by harmonizing economic growth and environmental sustainability. For example, Green Growth requires that Singapore change its urban congestion-charge system. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) introduced Green Mark Awards in 2005, which are awarded to developers and building owners who have shown their commitment to go green. It judges buildings based on their environmental performance, their energy efficiency, water conservation, healthy indoor environments, and waste reduction. The National Library Building in Singapore is a flagship of green-building design in Asia. It was awarded the Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest distinction in green and sustainable building by Singapore's government. Since the Green Mark Award has become more popular, even residential property owners are striving to earn the Green Mark. BCA continues to promote the benefits of Green Mark buildings, with the hope that a critical mass of buyers will bring down the cost of green buildings and increase their worth in the public eye.
Ambient Air Quality Although heavily industrialized and densely populated, Singapore's ambient air quality is among the best in the world, comparing well with that of major cities around the world. The National Environmental Agency's (NEA) pollution control strategies have been effective; their Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is within the 'Good' range of criteria set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for 320 days, or 88% of 2005, with 'Moderate' readings the remaining 12%. This is well within the target set by the Singapore Green Plan 2012. Stringent controls on emissions through strict vigilance and monitoring stations throughout the island track concentrations of pollutants. To further protect future generations, a National Energy Efficiency Committee was set up in 2001 to promote efficient energy use by industry, homes, commercial buildings and vehicles.
Public Health Standards As stated in the Singapore Green Plan 2012, "A country's sustainability does not depend only on what it has – it depends also on what it does not." Although its high population density is conducive to rapid spread of disease, many vector- and food-borne diseases commonly found in tropical countries are rare in Singapore. High public health standards are a result of vigilant monitoring, continual improvement of vector control methods, and educational promotion of cleanliness and good toilet behavior to increase community ownership of healthy hygiene. The World Health Organization declared Singapore malaria-free in 1982. Infant mortality rates (IMR) are a sign of a country's health care system, and Singapore's IMR has declined to 2.2/1000 births. Childhood diseases such as poliomyelitis and diptheria are non-existent. To ensure continued excellent public health standards, disease surveillance and response systems have been set up, laboratories upgraded to identify dangerous infectious diseases and viruses swiftly, and food is monitored to pre-empt international health problems from reaching Singapore.
Towards Zero Waste Singapore's aim of zero waste in the long-term is supported by solid waste management strategies. The waste cycle in Singapore includes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Incinerate. Singapore has made positive strides in controlling waste with disposed amounts dropping from 7,600 tons/day in 2000 to 7,000 tons/day in 2006, even as the population increased by 474,400. Through national campaigns and initiatives, recycling rates rose from 40% to 49% between 2000 and 2005, with an aim to achieve 60% by 2012. Incineration at one of four plants on the island disposes of 90.9% of the total waste; 57% of this waste is from residences, food centers and markets; the remaining 43% is from commercial and industrial enterprises. Non-incinerable waste and incineration ash are disposed of at Semakau Landfill, an offshore dumping ground.
Singapore aims to move upstream to reduce waste generation at its source. The National Environment Agency (NEA) is working with industry partners and associations to promote reduction of packaging waste, and waste from food factories and industrial estates. The NEA is considering the introduction of a voluntary scheme for producers and retailers so that excess packaging material, such as multiple layers of plastic wrapping, will be minimized. Striving toward zero landfill and 'closing the loop' of waste depends on influencing producers to choose materials that minimize the waste volume and facilitating recycling.
Through campaigns such as Recycling Day, and Clean and Green Week, people's awareness about recycling is growing, and by December 2005, 56% of all Singapore households had taken part in the National Recycling Programme initiated in 2001. The National Environmental Agency (NEA) works closely with NGOs like the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), and with industry associations such as Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore to bring partners and sponsors on board. In addition, the NEA set up initiatives like the $20 million Innovation for Environmental Sustainability (IES) scheme to fund the testing of technologies with commercial value. For example, technology was developed to recycle wood waste into recycled pallets and corner boards with IES funding. Another company introduced a One Stop Plastic Recycling Operation to buy back post-consumer plastic wastes, winning the Enterprise 50 Awards in 2005 for recognition of innovation and enterprise.
Semaku Landfill About 8km from mainland Singapore, Semaku Landfill has a capacity of 63 million cubic meters, and was created by enclosing the mangrove-clad island of Pulau Semakau and a small adjacent island with a rock-armored sand bund. The bund is lined with a thick plastic industrial membrane and layer of marine clay to prevent refuse from causing leaching into the sea. During construction, environmental and conservation measures were taken to preserve existing mangroves while growing new ones to replace those affected by development. The air is fresh and wildlife is thriving; biodiversity surveys have revealed a rich variety of flora and fauna on the island. There are educational trips to the landfill, and the public can book fishing trips through the Sport Fishing Association of Singapore, or join Nature Society Singapore's bird watching sessions. Singapore hopes to extend the current lifespan of Semakau Landfill from 40 years to 50 years through accelerating the greening of industry and the private sector.
Green Corridors The National Parks Board has gradually created green corridors in various parts of Singapore, known as the Park Connector System. An island-wide network of park connectors is currently being implement. Singapore has recently embarked on a campaign to provide 245 ha (600 acres) of 'park connectors' by 2010. Green corridors will eventually connect every park and reserve on the island. The corridors will contain bike paths and hiking trails, affording residents more options for enjoying nature and getting around the city.
Congestion-Charging Schemes Singapore is the first city in the world to adopt an electronic toll collection system. Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is a toll collection scheme implemented by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 1998 to manage traffic congestion by road pricing. Although understandably unpopular among most road users, the ERP system has helped shift road usage patterns. The LTA reported road traffic decreased by nearly 25,000 vehicles during peak hours, with average road speeds increasing about 20%, and greater carpooling. However, traffic bottlenecks along smaller roads have increased. In addition, a downtown and rush hour Congestion-Charging System imposes a US $3-6 daily user fee on anyone driving in the downtown area, and channels the proceeds into an excellent transit system. The US $3 morning rush hour entry fee cut the number of cars entering the city by 44%, and solo trips by 60%, helping traffic move up to 20% faster.
Dengue Fever Epidemics In Singapore, dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever (DF/DHF) are the main epidemics of diseases which occur almost yearly. Epidemics of dengue fever are reported more frequently and in an explosive manner as a result of increasing global mobility. Mosquito surveillance and control is accorded priority because mosquito-borne diseases are the major vector-borne diseases in Singapore. Singapore's method of dealing with dengue is being held as an example for other countries to tackle the problem. Breeding grounds are destroyed immediately upon detection. As a result, about 3,100 dengue cases were reported in Singapore in 2006, dropping significantly from 14,200 in 2005. The number of homes found to be breeding mosquitoes dropped to just 18 in every 10,000 homes in 2006, compared to 53 in 2005, the report said. The National Environment Agency (NEA) explained that the severity of an outbreak would depend on several factors. These include rising temperatures which is what Singapore is experiencing now. More mosquito larvae will develop faster in hot weather so the dengue virus will also multiply at a higher rate.
Investment Allowance Scheme To encourage companies to invest in energy efficient equipment, Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) administers an Investment Allowance (IA) Scheme that is a capital allowance on qualifying equipment costs, allowing a deduction against all chargeable income. The IA can be awarded if the capital expenditure results in more efficient energy utilization.
Energy Efficiency As energy costs increase, Singapore is achieving greater efficiency in energy utilization, amidst high demands for utilities, such as air conditioning, through two specific schemes. The Energy Service Company (ESCO) Accreditation Scheme is a service that develops, installs and helps finance projects designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce maintenance costs for facilities. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe) conducts energy appraisals for companies that cannot afford in-house energy management expertise. Under EASe, NEA co-funds up to 50% of the cost of energy appraisals for buildings and industrial facilities.
For each dollar spent on energy audits, $5-10 is recovered in annual savings in energy costs. Energy efficiency investments have been identified to have an average payback period of less than 3 years.
Ambient Air Quality Although Singapore is heavily industrialized and densely populated, its ambient air quality is among the best in the world. National Environmental Agency's (NEA) pollution control strategies have been effective; their Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is within the 'Good' range of criteria set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for 320 days, or 88% of 2005, with 'Moderate' readings the remaining 12%. This is well within the target set by the Singapore Green Plan 2012. Strict vigilance and monitoring stations throughout the island track control emissions from pollutants. A National Energy Efficiency Committee was set up in 2001 to promote efficient energy use by industry, homes, commercial buildings and vehicles.
Public Health Standards As stated in the Singapore Green Plan 2012, "A country's sustainability does not depend only on what it has – it depends also on what it does not." Although its high population density is conducive to rapid spread of disease, many vector- and food-borne diseases commonly found in tropical countries are rare in Singapore. There are high public health standards because of communities’ healthy hygiene practices. These practices include vigilant monitoring, continual improvement of vector control methods, and educational promotion of cleanliness. The World Health Organization declared Singapore malaria-free in 1982. Infant mortality rates (IMR) are a sign of a country's health care system. This bodes positively for Singapore, since its IMR has declined to 2.2/1000 births, while childhood diseases such as poliomyelitis and diphtheria are non-existent. Singapore continues to uphold its excellent public health standards by maintaining disease surveillance and response systems, and monitoring food to pre-empt the incursion of international health problems.
Towards Zero Waste Singapore supports its long-term goal to create zero waste by strategizing its solid waste management. The waste cycle in Singapore includes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Incinerate. Singapore improved its waste control and averaged 7,600 tons/day in 2000 to 7,000 tons/day in 2006, despite the population’s 474,400 increase. National campaigns and initiatives increased recycling rates from 40% to 49% between 2000 and 2005, and the government plans to achieve 60% by 2012. Incineration at one of four plants on the island disposes of 90.9% of the total waste. 57% of this waste is from residences, food centers and markets. The remaining 43% is from commercial and industrial enterprises. Non-incinerable waste and incineration ash are disposed of at Semakau Landfill, an offshore dumping ground. Singapore is hoping that Semakau Landfill’s lifespan will increase from 40 years to 50 years through accelerating the greening of industry and the private sector. The zero landfill and ‘closing the loop' of waste will influence producers to choose materials that minimize waste and facilitate recycling.
Green Corridors The National Parks Board has gradually created green corridors in various parts of Singapore, known as the Park Connector System. Singapore has recently embarked on a campaign to provide 245 ha (600 acres) of 'park connectors' by 2010. Green corridors will eventually connect every park and reserve on the island. The corridors will contain bike paths and hiking trails, affording residents more options for enjoying nature and getting around the city.
Congestion-Charging Schemes Singapore was the first city in the world to adopt an electronic toll collection system. Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is a toll collection scheme implemented by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 1998 to manage traffic congestion. Although understandably unpopular among most road users, the ERP system has helped shift road usage patterns. The LTA reported road traffic decreased by nearly 25,000 vehicles during peak hours, with average road speeds increasing about 20%, and more carpooling. However, traffic bottlenecks along smaller roads have increased. A downtown and rush hour Congestion-Charging System imposes a US $3-6 daily user fee on anyone driving in the downtown area, and uses the proceeds into an excellent transit system. The US $3 morning rush hour entry fee cut the number of cars entering the city by 44%, and solo trips by 60%, helping make traffic up to 20% faster.
Dengue Fever Epidemics In Singapore, dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DF/DHF) are the most common yearly epidemics. Increasing global mobility has facilitated epidemics of dengue fever, which tend to occur in large outbreaks. Mosquito surveillance and control is prioritized because mosquito-borne diseases are Singapore’s major vector-borne diseases. Singapore's method of dealing with dengue is so successful that other countries with dengue outbreaks use it as an example. Breeding grounds are destroyed immediately upon detection. As a result, about 3,100 dengue cases were reported in Singapore in 2006, dropping significantly from 14,200 in 2005. The number of homes found to be breeding mosquitoes dropped to just 18 in every 10,000 homes in 2006, compared to 53 in 2005, the report said. The National Environment Agency (NEA) reports that the severity of an outbreak depends on several factors. One of these factors is Singapore’s rising temperature, since the mosquitoes that carry the virus develop faster in hot weather.
Investment Allowance Scheme Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) administers an Investment Allowance (IA) Scheme to encourage companies to invest in energy efficient equipment. It disburses capital to pay the cost of equipment that meet its environmental qualifications and allows a deduction for all chargeable income. The IA can be awarded if the capital expenditure results in more efficient energy utilization.
Energy Efficiency Singapore energy use is becoming more efficient, despite the increase in energy costs and the high demand for utilities such as air conditioning. Its efficiency is a result of Energy Service Company (ESCO) Accreditation Scheme, which develops, installs and helps finance projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe) appraises energy for companies that cannot afford the cost of in-house energy management. Under EASe, NEA co-funds up to 50% of the cost of energy appraisals for buildings and industrial facilities.
Loss of Biodiversity Singapore has lost a tremendous amount of biodiversity; it has lost 28% of its biodiversity in the past 183 years. Singapore's establishment as a colonial trading post in 1819 resulted in the near-complete devastation of its forests. Most of the rainforest was lost in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Its colonization is considered today as a "worst case scenario".
Based on surveys of species found in neighboring Malaysia, habitat loss in Singapore could have wiped out many species before they were ever documented, and the true extinction figure could be as high as 73%. Some, such as the cream-coloured giant squirrel and the white-bellied woodpecker, have populations so small that their extinction is almost guaranteed. More than 50% the native freshwater fish, 33.3% of birds and 25% of the seed plants and mammals are now extinct. The tiger is also already extinct, as are the leopard, clouded leopard, sambar and barking deer. The hornbills, trogons and broadbills are gone too. Less than 5% of the original mangroves are left, mostly in the north of Singapore in a much degraded state. Several other extinctions have occurred, the most spectacular being the arboreal orchids, none of which have survived.
More than three quarters of Singapore's species are considered "threatened," according to World Conservation Union criteria. While Singapore has had 95% of its native lowland rainforest cleared, today, its remaining rainforests are protected. The incessant activity that has made Singapore an economic powerhouse in the region also decimated coastal biodiversity. The damage is not limited to mangroves; natural sandy, muddy and rocky shores have been reclaimed or altered. Crustaceans, mollusks and corals have also been depleted in addition to the losses of birds; and the loss of coastal plants alone has been estimated at 40%.
The Singapore Green Plan, published in 1993 by the Ministry of the Environment, identified a total of 19 areas as designated for conservation. These areas represent about 5% of the total land area and include 2,100 hectares of forests. According to the Initial National Communication Report submitted to UNFCC by Singapore in 2000, some 940,000 trees and more than 8 million shrubs have been planted in public spaces across the island.
Particulate Matter (PM)2.5 Emissions Although Singapore enjoys some best air quality in the world, it has yet to meet the recommended standard for PM2.5 (diameter less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers) set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Like many other major cities, PM2.5 is Singapore’s most common air pollutant (21 μg/Nm). While all fuel engines produce PM2.5 pollutants, diesel engines alone account for 50% or more of the PM2.5 emitted. Recent studies indicate PM2.5 can lead to higher risks of bronchitis, asthma and upper respiratory tract infection. However, a new law passed in October 2006 that requires all new registered diesel vehicles meets the Euro IV emission standards. This move towards Euro IV standards is a vital step towards making air more clean in the long-term. New measures that address local and regional air pollution, such as the clean air component of the Singapore Green Plan 2012, may help keep PM2.5 and other pollutant levels at bay.
Land Scarcity Singapore is a dense and urban city-state. Singapore has grown significantly because of extensive land reclamation. It has increased at least 100 sq. km. (38.6 sq.mi.) from its original size before 1819, and it may grow another 100 sq. km. by 2030. Singapore faces immense challenges in meeting housing needs for its growing population because its current land mass is around 699 sq.km. Not all of this land can be developed, since water catchment areas take up 40% of the landmass. Land is also set aside for military use, and height restrictions have been imposed on buildings in several towns due to flight paths from Changi International Airport. Furthermore, Singapore has no land for waste disposal because of competing demands for remaining land. Their only landfill was constructed in the sea for $610M.
Dense and Rising Population Singapore is the second most densely populated independent country in the world, with a current population of about 4.5M people, of which 18% are foreigners. After two decades of a successful family planning policy, Singapore is now facing the threat of an aging population, declining birth rates of Singaporeans, and an influx of foreigners. Average life expectancy is 78 years, while the infant mortality rate has declined to 2.2/1000 births.
In February 2007, Singapore announced that its "population parameter" aimed for a long-term population of 7M people, the creation of a viable and self-sustaining population profile, a larger economic pie, and a more vibrant society. There is concern that Singapore’s high quality of life will not be sustainable if the population increases due to overcrowding, environmental damage and strained ties between the local population and foreign workers. To support a growing population, land reclamation, construction of taller high-rise buildings, expansion of the rail and road network, and more power and utility facilities will help meet future needs. Other concerns include how to maintain Singapore's reputation as a clean and green city with its beautiful parks; and higher population could translate to more cars, traffic congestion, and greater air pollution. The bulk of the additional 2M people will come from abroad, affecting social ties between locals and foreigners. Singapore must attract not only job-seekers, but also entrepreneur-settlers for new businesses to hire local employees.
Limited Fresh Water Resources Around 50% of Singapore’s primary water supply is rainfall collected in catchment areas since there are no natural rivers and lakes. Singapore continues to thrive since it diversifies its water resources with recycled and desalinated water. However, nearly 40% of Singapore's fresh water is imported from Malaysia, and one of its biggest challenges will be to ensure that this fresh water supply is sustainable. Water catchment areas now account for 1/2 of Singapore's land, and in the future more reservoirs, canals, and drains that catch and channel rainfall will take up to 2/3 of the island. Singapore manages its water demand through diversification, research and development in water technologies, promotion of water-efficient household appliances and water saving devices. It also encourages the public to take ownership of and enjoy Singapore's water.
Before its separation from Malaysia in 1965, it was relying on Peninsular Malaysia for much of its fresh water supply through long-term agreements. Currently, about half of Singapore's water requirement is piped to the republic via the causeway from the southern peninsula state of Johor, a source that of late has become a bone of contention that is affecting bilateral relations. Johor currently accounts for half of Singapore's daily water needs of 1,299 million [m.sup.3]/day (286 mgd). The prevailing high dependence on Malaysia is seen as unhealthy to its long-term security interests and economic development. Given that a significant amount of water comes from outside its borders, and since water supply is a vital element of its national security, Singapore has been looking towards diversifying its external sources of supply. Indonesia is a logical choice, specifically from the larger islands closer to its borders.
SGP 2012 dictates that 25% of Singapore’s water supply be met by unconventional sources, which should diminish the nation’s reliance on external water supply.
Science Behind the Policies
The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) tracks the development of green technologies and chooses to use these technologies when they are cost-effective.
The MEWR and its two statutory boards (National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB), work closely with local environmental NGOs on various environmental initiatives.
MEWR works closely with local industry associations such as the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore, Singapore Water Association, Environmental Management Association of Singapore as well as the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. Established in 1967, the Singapore National Academy of Science acts as an umbrella organization for the premier scientific societies in Singapore. Its principal mission objective is the promotion of science and technology in Singapore. The NEA focuses on the implementation of environmental policies, and works with government agencies to monitor and manage the effects of Climate Change on Singapore.
The NEA also created the 3P Partnership Fund, which assists organizations, companies and individuals from the 3P sectors develop innovative and sustainable environmental initiatives together. In addition to the NEA, the National Climate Change Committee tackles climate change issues. It was formed following Singapore's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2006.
Knowledge Based Economy
The Research Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) advises the Singapore Cabinet on how to transform Singapore into a knowledge-based economy that promotes development, research, innovation and enterprise. RIEC encourages scientific and technological initiatives, and aims to catalyze new areas of economic growth. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) promotes world-class scientific research and nurtures Singapore's scientific talent.
Research & Development
The Prime minister's office formed the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2006 to coordinate the research of different federal agencies and to fund strategic research and development (R&D) initiatives. One of the strategic programs under NRF is Environment and Water Technologies. The Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), established under A*STAR in 2000, oversees the biomedical R&D research in the public sector. The Clean Energy Programme Office (CEPO) was formed in 2007 to develop Singapore as a Clean Energy Hub, and to implement and coordinate the various public programs in Clean Energy. The National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) promotes both science and technology under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. NSTB administers grants to companies that research and develop technology. One of its main projects is to establish a research institute, the Environmental Technology Institute (ETI), which will work on R&D of environmental technologies with public and private institutions.
The Environmental Health Institute (EHI) was launched in 2002 to conduct applied research for the development of innovative and cost-effective ways of combating vector-borne diseases, particularly those transmitted by mosquitoes. EHI are in close contact with members of the genetic technology of the life sciences laboratories in order to quickly identify mosquitoes from a few days ago to those captured an hour ago. EHI also works closely with other institutions' biotechnological laboratories that develop vaccines for dengue.
The Singapore Green Labeling Scheme (SGLS), launched by the Ministry of the Environment in 1992, distinguishes environmentally friendly products with eco-labels. This scheme extends to most products but excludes foods, drinks, pharmaceuticals, services and processes. Products that comply with Green Label standards are given the privilege to carry the Green Label logo, which distinguishes them from other products on the market. The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is now the Secretariat for the SGLS. Learn more here [http://www.globalecolabelling.net/]
A population's use of the natural resources it harvests is called its appropriated carrying capacity. Population increase eventually upsets the balance between people and resources, and this increase is a vital concern to islands around the world. Since the island’s carrying capacity is determined not just by local conditions but also by overall capacity to access resources, there is no agreed limit to population density. Therefore islands like Singapore support a high population density without compromising its residents' lifestyles because it draws resources from surrounding areas with trade. However, this system is dependant upon other nations having a surplus of resources to trade to Singapore.
An ecological footprint is the amount of land and water area that is required to sustain one human being. Similarly, there is an ecological footprint for the amount of land in aquatic ecosystems that a population, at a specified material standard of living, needs to produce foods and to assimilate waste. In the world there are 1.9 hectares of productive area per person, but the average ecological footprint is already 2.3 hectares. As of 2003 our ecological footprints have exceeded the Earth's bio-capacity by about 25%. In 1995, Singapore had an average footprint of 6.48 hectare. However, the Ministry of the Environment disagreed with this percentage because a major amount of emissions come from Singapore’s major transport hubs and oil-refining centers. The Ministry believed that those emissions should be excluded to calculate the average ecological footprint of Singapore’s population. Therefore the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) does not calculate Singapore’s ecological footprint, since figures do not reflect Singapore’s unique circumstances as a highly used transport hub.
Beyond the Borders
Seasonal Transboundary Haze Transboundary smoke haze episodes are caused by land and forest fires during dry seasons. The haze has been a recurrent environmental issue in the SE Asian region for many years, with particularly severe effects on air quality in 1994 and 1997. In 1993 ASEAN countries set up the ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Center (ASMC) co-located with the Meteorological Service Singapore, as a collaborative program to look out for fires and haze in the region. Uncontrolled burning from "slash and burn" cultivation in Indonesia caused the October 2006 SE Asian haze. El Niño and the Southern Oscillation of the Ocean’s currents, which later delayed the monsoon season, also affected the 2006 SE Asian haze.
During the haze, schools suspended outdoor activities, and Polyclinics in some areas reported a 20% increase in patients with respiratory problems and asthma. Although air purifier sales were up, only high efficiency particulate filters would effectively remove the PM10 (particulate matter) from the air, and ionizing purifiers, which give off ozone, could cause symptoms similar to those caused by the haze. According to economists, Singapore suffered a US $50M economic loss due to the year's onset of haze.
Global Climate Change Extreme weather patterns are potentially dangerous for coastal areas, especially low-lying islands like Singapore that are less than 15 meters above sea level. Singapore demonstrated its commitment to environmental sustainability by signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 and signing the Kyoto Protocol in April of 2006 as a non-Annex I country. It set a national target of 25% reduction in the amount of CO2 for each GDP dollar generated from 1990 levels by the year 2012. By the end of 2004, it achieved 22%. In addition, Singapore developed policies and implemented measures to mitigate the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Clean energy is a strategic growth area for Singapore, with pioneering investments in solar energy, biofuels, wind energy and fuel cells. The Government announced that it would give $350M for clean energy R&D and would use funds from National Environment Agency to support the testing of clean energy technologies. The National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) examines four different courses of action: vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, mitigation of carbon emissions, raising awareness on climate change, and competency building. The National Environment Agency (NEA) serves as the Designated National Authority (DNA) that approves and registers Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in Singapore.
Singapore is vulnerable to the following concerns arising from climate change: land loss and coastal erosion; loss of water resources; flooding; and public health impacts from resurgence of diseases. These vulnerabilities are aggravated by adverse global climate change. Of the four vulnerabilities identified, the first three are direct manifestations of a rise in sea level. Climate change has been identified as one of the causes of change in the pattern of communicable diseases throughout the world. Singapore is situated in a region that is endemic to many communicable diseases. Its open economy and relatively mobile population increase the risk of exposure to communicable diseases. In addition, it has a very high population density per unit area, which makes it a challenge to contain the spread of communicable diseases. Therefore, any change in global communicable disease patterns will be a concern and Singapore must be prepared to handle a resurgence of communicable diseases.
Cooperation Beyond Borders Singapore is committed to working with neighboring nations. It works through several organizations, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These organizations promote peace, stability and economic, social, and cultural development. In addition, Singapore hopes to facilitate developing countries’ work to overcome resource and capacity constraints. Under the Singapore Co-operation Programme, training courses are conducted on a range of topics for participants from fellow developing countries.
ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. It is the most comprehensive of the UN five regional commissions and the largest UN body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff. Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP seeks to overcome some of the region's greatest challenges through focusing on issues most effectively addressed through regional cooperation. It carries out work in three main thematic areas: poverty reduction; managing globalization; and tackling emerging social issues.
ASEAN was established in 1967 with Singapore one of its five original Member Countries; currently there are 10 Member Countries with a region population of about 500 million, total area of 4.5M sq. km, combined gross domestic product of almost US $700B, and a total trade of about US $850B. The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: (1) to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and (2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Regional Hydro Hub Singapore has a sustainable supply of water because it uses advanced technology and innovatively diversifies its scarce water supply. Singapore's water agency, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), was named Water Agency of the Year at the Global Water Awards 2006. Other countries are now consulting Singapore's expertise because it plans to export its knowledge abroad. While its global water market is now 1%, the government hopes to raise it to 5% by 2015. China, whose fast development has polluted both its ground and surface water, has hired a Singaporean company to build a desalination plant and a NEWater plant. They will be in Tianjin, in the western province of Ningxiaa, and will produce clean water from treated wastewater.
Illicit Drug Traffic Drug trafficking is one of a nation’s most destabilizing forces to its socio-economic structure. ASEAN countries of South-East Asia, countries of the Golden Triangle, are more susceptible to these force because opium and cannabis are grown in their countries. While Singapore does not produce illicit drugs, it is on the Golden Triangle traffic route. However, its strict narcotics laws effectively fight against drug traffickers and drug-related problems. The fight against illicit drug trafficking is difficult, yet ASEAN countries cooperate with each other and work to end trafficking in their region.
Piracy Piracy continues to threaten the ship owners and the mariners who voyage across the 900km-long (550 miles) Strait of Malacca. Piracy increased in the 18th and 19th century when Europeans colonized the region. The Strait of Malacca is an important commercial route, and the most important oil route between companies in the Middle East and oil markets in East Asia. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), recent coordinated air and sea patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, along with increased security on vessels and new technology have dramatically decreased piracy. The IMB reports worldwide pirate attacks fell for the third year in a row in 2006. Sea-borne cargo accounts for some 40% of the world's trade.
CORE Competencies Singapore's thriving businesses use a unique blend of CORE competencies: Connectivity, Openness, Reliability, and Enterprise. Singapore has taken advantage of its strategic location as the gateway to Asia, and has become one of the largest financial centers in the world. It offers tax incentives to encourage the transfer and development of technological and intellectual property. Since Singapore is committed to high levels of GNP growth, its economy is successful. It has an economic growth of more than 7% per annum since independence in 1965 and ranks 9th in per-capita income in the world. Singapore's cosmopolitan atmosphere is made possible by its globalized economy and the diversity of its many cultures. Singapore’s transparent government policies create a safe and pro-business environment, which safeguards companies' investments. Singapore has a vibrant enterprise ecosystem that fuels interaction and growth. It is home to a high concentration of international enterprises, headquarters operations and start-ups.
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Singapore's environment ministry has adopted the PPP approach to drive the growth and development of environmental industries. The public sector works closely with the private sector to build a new environmental infrastructure and services. For example, the first three NEWater plants and refuse incineration plants are owned by the Public Utilities Board (PUB). The PUB is sharing its expertise through a Design-Build-Own-Operate (DBOO). The latest NEWater plant and refuse incineration plants are owned by the private sector. The expansion of existing plants and construction of a new privately owned plant is underway to meet a growing demand. Under Public-Private Partnership agreement, a fifth incineration plant will be finished by 2009, and will replace the Ulu Pandan Plant built in 1979.
Innovation and Eco-Efficiency
The government works towards environmental sustainability by providing funding incentives to businesses if they pursue environmental innovations and efficiency projects.
Administered by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe) offers incentives to companies in the manufacturing and building. Funding assists businesses to hire expert consultants to make detailed studies on energy consumption and to identify areas needing improved energy efficiency. The NEA also offers funding through the Innovation for Environmental Sustainability Fund (IES). These funds primarily enhance the Ministry's capabilities, improve the environmental performance of a company, and fund the research and development of environmental technologies and commercial products.
SMEs and Competitiveness for a Vibrant Econom The Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board of Singapore (SPRING Singapore) is the key government agency that nurtures a pro-business environment through spearheading enterprise growth and development, especially for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). SPRING promotes productivity, applies technology, develops workforces, industry and quality. It also partners with three local universities for economic educational programs. Through SPRING, $3.9 billion will be distributed between 2006 and 2010 to enhance innovation, competitiveness, to help form enterprises, and to enable SMEs to increase their access to markets and business opportunities.
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