Making Singapore a Sustainable City: Concept Plan 2011

URA Singapore

URA Building, Singapore

Singapore brings out a Concept Plan every 10 years to map out the long term directions for the city’s land use and transportation plans over the next 40 to 50 years. The next Concept Plan is scheduled for 2011. With this in mind, one of the focus groups that Singapore’s urban planner, the “ Urban Redevelopment Authority” (URA) set up was on the issue of “Sustainability and Identity.”  

The focus group has come up with recommendations that they will be making to the URA. Yesterday, May 6th, 2010 was the Public Forum where the group sought feedback from the public on its draft proposals.

One of the two main thrust areas according to the focus group is :

BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE CITY: “For Singapore to be a highly liveable city, the focus group felt that we need to build a sustainable city where we are all geared up for sustainable living.”  The recommendations (shown in block) and public feedback are as follows:

“1. Strengthening our green infrastructure

1a) ‘Greening the building lifecycle’

  • Green’ the entire lifecycle of a building from planning and design, resources used, to operations and maintenance.
  • Have more policies and incentives to encourage the ‘greening’ of building lifecycles.
  • Include sustainability building considerations as criteria for award in land tenders.
  • Encourage more owners to retrofit their existing buildings with green features.” 

Feedback & Comments:

A Panel member noted that all new buildings in Singapore subscribe to the BCA Green Mark standard, but there was scope for improving the standard by incorporating the entire lifecycle of a building.

One audience member questioned the presence of so many glass panelled buildings in the city and the subsequent use of airconditioning. The idea of Green roofs came up in the slides shown by the panelists, and encouragement of urban farming was suggested by the audience. Mr. Shawn Lum, President of the Nature Society of Singapore hopes to see such concepts become a reality in Singapore.

“1b) Promoting ‘green’ mobility

  • Public transport, walking or cycling should be our default means to get around.
  • Encourage greater use of public transport by making it even more convenient, frequent, and comfortable, along with cheaper fares and season passes.
  • Discourage private transport by reviewing car parking policies, such as reducing parking lots, or charging higher parking fees in the city and town centres.
  • Provide a dedicated network of cycling lanes and complimentary facilities.”

Feedback & Comments:

It was encouraging to note the emphasis on public transport, and the importance of making it convenient and cost effective.  The panel members noted that we need improved cycling lanes and covered areas for cycling - considering the city is hot and humid. Public education is also required to ensure the successful use of this means of public transport. 

Reducing the number of cars on the road is also the way to make the city greener, and that entails a possible reduction of car park spaces.

“1c)‘Greening’ our habits

  • All should become  ‘green’ citizens and make recycling and reducing waste part of our daily lives.
  • Deploy an island-wide recycling infrastructure at community level to make recycling convenient
  • Strengthen programmes to inculcate a ‘green’ mindset and raise public awareness about recycling and reducing waste.”

Feedback & Comments:

Panelists noted that green behaviour has to be a community wide action, with top-down and bottom-up initiatives supporting this.  Green behaviour is more likely to evolve if it is convenient, and people are given both incentives and disincentives. 

EWTT pointed out to the panelists that there are some practical issues in reducing plastic bag consumption. People still need to use it to put things down the building chute.  However much we try to reduce waste, in addition to recycling bins, there needs to be a community provision for composting.  Another audience member mentioned that having chutes in buildings makes people lazy when it comes to recycling.

The panel suggested that higher waste disposal fees depending upon the amount of garbage collected from households could reduce wastage. Recycling could be encouraged by placing recycling bins closer to public transport points like MRT stations.

On the issue of green behaviour, EWTT noticed that the URA had to start green behaviour at home, and pointed that there was no veggie food as refreshments, which were served on plastic disposables. Bottled water was provided at the forum. A request was made for introducing one Meat Free Day a week in Singapore.  

One audience member mentioned there is way too much packaging in many products, and that companies should also take responsibility for reducing the packaging.  The Semakau landfill that houses the incineration ash from Singapore is likely to be filled up by 2030.

 ”2. Foster more sharing and ownership of  ‘green’ practices

Empowering the community to go green

  • Empower residents to take ownership and improve our living environment
  • Grow demand for green products and cleaner or renewable energy
  • Have a reliable accreditation system for ‘green’ products to encourage ‘green’ consumerism
  • Share ‘green’ knowledge and tools amongst grassroots, non-government organisations, schools and businesses.
  • Recognise our ‘green’ heroes.”


Feedback & Comments:

EWTT quoted to panelists, a recent study by University of Adelaide and National University of Singapore, which mentions the high ecological footprint of Singapore. It’s necessary to think of sustainability not only in terms of what it means for the island, but also the footprint elsewhere in the region and on the planet. The panel agreed, and said that better labelling for products, such as organic and fairtrade would help with this.


The other thrust area is MAKING SINGAPORE AN ENDEARING HOME , a place to “work, live and play.” It includes preserving our natural and architectural heritage, and enliven places that enhance our personal and collective memories of this city.     Some topics that came up for discussion were : providing more areas for children to play like the Jacob Bhalla’s Garden in Singapore, and increasing the current 5-6% land area reserved for Nature Parks to at least 10% which is the IUCN recommendation for conservation of biodiversity.


Some of these issues are new, and some have been raised before with the Government of Singapore.  The issues are very broad in scope, and many of the details, such as plans for green transport, renewable energy, or green labelling, for example, are not known.  It will be interesting to see which of these recommendations make it into the Concept Plan and to what degree and detail. 

The focus group has given a 3 week time window to take in more feedback from the public. So leave your comments on the Concept Plan 2011 website and see if you can shape Singapore’s future as a Sustainable City.


The 6 Panelists were:

Shawn Lum, Nature Society Singpore ; Tiew Chew Meng, South-West CDC ; Ganesh Kalynanam, Republic Polytechnic; Amb Ong Keng Yong, Institute of Policy Studies,  Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman of Shell Companies, Shirlena Huang, National University of Singapore.

Further links you may be interested in:

1. URA concept Plan 2011 Public Consultation Process

2.  Study ranks Singapore highest in relative Environmental Impact

3. Kawasaki Eco-Town (Mentioned by Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society as an example of a Zero Emissions, Zero Waste model, which we in Singapore must strive to better)


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Posted by on May 7 2010. Filed under Green Cities, Green Cities/Communities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

10 Comments for “Making Singapore a Sustainable City: Concept Plan 2011”

  1. Pls look into dedicated Cycle lanes to encourage the use of cycles…a very green way to travel with excellent health benefits as well.

  2. [...] Life, the universe and everything – EcoWalktheTalk: Making Singapore a Sustainable City: Concept Plan 2011 [...]

  3. There so many beautiful sights and sounds in sgp. Unfortunately one by one they r wiped out unknowingly.


  4. Thanks, Komatsu…True, such is the fate of many cities the world over, with urbanisation and modernisation taking over some of the many, unnoticed pleasures we derive from living spaces. It’s so important that as part of society we must document and share with others how much these spaces mean to us, so they don’t get razed away and trampled over. Your musical tubular railings included :)

    Ranu, I agree, cycling is good for our health, good for the health of a city’s lungs.

  5. Loveappleoverkindle

    Komatsu. Do you have any idea how we can get in touch with this Darkness chappie? Does he happen to have a vid of this singing jetty? I know he once wrote a long sonorous poem abt whale songs he heard in a jetty, but I had absolutely no idea he was referring to the Bedok Jetti!

  6. we need to cool down the city considerably. what’s the point of investing so much in the exterior/infrastructure(such as our new iconic bridge at the marina sand area) when most people stay indoor(only to loiter meaninglessly in shopping malls) and never venture beyond the usual path of home , working place/school and home again?

    apart from the weather, it is costly to go out for leisure. furthermore, how many will return to new sights again?

    a livable city must have more to offer to draw people away from their tvs and tiny living space.

    in this area, we are not succeeding very well. maybe it is because of our structured existence that people are dying slowly from within.

    you have not succeeded if you only have a beautiful shell to boast or show itself off to the world.

  7. i can’t help but feeling the govt is a bit of a hypocrite when it talks about sustainable development.

    about 5 years ago when my flat was upgraded, i decided to forgo some upgrading items as the previous owner had already renovated quite extensively. what’s the point of throwing away doors/windows and hacking tiles that were still in good condition? obviously i wanted to reduce wastage of materials and resources.

    when the bill came, i replied to HDB that my payment should reflect my efforts in helping to save the enviroment. HDB refused to acknowledge this issue and insisted that i pay whatever was billed to me.

    just imagine, upgrading has been going on for decades and most flat owners just go for the full package as there is no incentive to save the enviroment. the amount of wasted materials and resoures is staggering, all because HDB does not give a damn about the enviroment.

    so why is the URA talking about sustainability? why don’t they look into HDB policies that encourage unsustainable development first before giving us this crap that they are so concerned about the enviroment?

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  9. [...] the universe and everything – EcoWalktheTalk: Making Singapore a Sustainable City: Concept Plan 2011 – Unraveling Singapore: Can I Have My Personal Space? – Dee Kay Dot As Gee: The wonders of washing [...]

  10. I think what you guys have said is true. I feel that places like the marina barrage are mainly there for foreigners, since none of us locals would spend so much money on these attractions. Also, many Sporeans don’t have the mindset of going green. Like, at supermarkets, it’s really rare to find people bringing their own bags.

    Do we really need two large plastic bags for every sack of rice we buy?

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