12 Jan 2018

Sustaining Progress with Sustainability


Economic growth and sustainability go hand-in-hand
Innovations in urban solutions and sustainability are essential for Singapore's survival and continued success on the global stage.


No stranger to sustainable development, Singapore has conserved much of its natural environment despite rapid economic progress and urbanisation. Often described as a ‘city in a garden’, the island nation is not sitting on its laurels as it seeks to remain competitive on the global stage without compromising its clean and green image. At the same time, it must deal with the challenges arising from climate change and cope with the effects of an aging population.

To face these internal and external threats, the Singapore government has included urban solutions and sustainability as one of four strategic technological domains that will receive priority in funding over a span of five years. Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan, S$900 million has been set aside until 2020 for developing capabilities to maximise natural resources and manage built-up environments in economical and ecologically friendly ways. Water, energy and urban mobility are among the major research and development thrusts that fall under the broad umbrella term of urban solutions and sustainability.



Overcoming resource constraints

Despite being an island nation, water is a scarce resource in Singapore. To sustain its daily consumption of 430 million gallons of water—equal to the volume of 782 Olympic-sized swimming pools—Singapore currently imports 35 percent of its water, while the remaining 65 percent is contributed by three other national taps: water from local catchment, NEWater and desalinated water.

Given the unpredictability of water supply from local catchment, NEWater and desalinated water are considered more viable sources of freshwater in the long run. By 2060, the Singapore government aims to have up to 85 percent of Singapore’s water supply derived from recycled or desalinated water. This entails investments in technology to improve and scale up technologies that can remove impurities in wastewater or seawater.

Meanwhile, on the energy front, Singapore has switched from fuel oil to natural gas, which is the least polluting fossil fuel-based energy source. But natural gas still leaves a carbon footprint and is non-renewable, hence alternative energy sources are being explored.

At the Singapore International Energy Week 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Teo Chee Hean, noted that solar energy is already cost-competitive in more than thirty countries, including Singapore. Harnessing renewable energy in more innovative and efficient ways will continue to be a focus for Singapore, said DPM Teo, and to achieve those goals, the government will continue to invest in energy research, development and demonstration.




Innovation on the move

In addition to managing resources, managing people is also a priority of the Singapore government. With one of the highest population densities in the world, moving people around the 720-square-kilometre island can be a significant challenge.

While the Mass Rapid Transit system and scheduled bus services remain the backbone of Singapore’s transport system, other mobility options such as on-demand transport services, electric cars, autonomous vehicles, bicycles and e-scooters are being explored by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Under the Smart Mobility 2030 roadmap jointly developed by the LTA and the Intelligent Transportation Society Singapore, an ecosystem of smart urban mobility will be created by implementing innovative and sustainable transport solutions. Developing and adopting intelligent transport systems standards are equally important, and all these efforts will require close partnerships among the relevant stakeholders.

Whether it has to do with water security, energy production or transportation, open innovation that spans tertiary institutions, industry players and the public sector can help accelerate solutions to market and materialise ambitions in a shorter time. IPI Singapore thus seeks to connect enterprises to the right innovation tools and partners to enable them to access newer and better ways of doing things. If you are a business owner interested in creating urban and sustainability solutions, visit our website and browse our online marketplace today.

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