Attaining Sustainable Urban Development Singapore-style

Attaining Sustainable Urban Development Singapore-style

The next 15 to 20 years would be of immense challenge to Asia, because of the magnitude of urbanisation that is going to take place in South-east Asia, India and China, Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told a forum in Washington, under the auspices of the World Bank and International Enterprise Singapore. To reinforce sustainability in Singapore, nature enthusiasts last week planted 2,570 plants, shrubs and trees in Orchard Road (pictured is Lend Lease’s 313 Somerset building) to entice butterflies to breed there. Meanwhile Finland’s Neste Oil will soon begin making low-emissions diesel at a 550 million-euro ($762 million) plant in Singapore.

Planning ‘vital’ for Asia’s growing cities:
Tharman warns breakneck pace of development could go awry without a long-term overview

Chua Chin Hon in Singapore’s Straits Times (10 October 2010):

Washington – The rapid urbanisation of Asia and the developing world could easily go awry if the breakneck pace of development is not integrated with long-term planning and best practices from around the world, Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said.

Speaking at a forum here last Thursday on how Singapore’s experience in sustainable development could be replicated or customised for developing countries, he added that the challenge for Asian policymakers would be particularly pronounced, given that the urbanisation process is taking place within a relatively shorter time frame.

‘The next 15 to 20 years would be of immense challenge to Asia, because of the magnitude of urbanisation that is going to take place in South-east Asia, India and China,’ Mr Tharman said at the forum, which was jointly held by the World Bank and International Enterprise Singapore, the agency spearheading the development of Singapore’s external economic wing.

‘The task of providing reasonably high-quality, high-density living, and organising cities so as to allow for economic innovation and growth, is an immense challenge,’ he added.

Experts believe that the world will have 26 mega-cities by 2025, each with a population of more than 10 million. Many of them will be in booming Asian countries like China and India, which are undergoing rapid development.

It has been estimated that 70 per cent of the Chinese population and 46 per cent of the Indian population will live in an urban environment in the next two decades, leading to heightened pressure on resources and the need for better ways to control congestion and pollution.

Touching on Singapore’s experience in managing urbanisation over the years, Mr Tharman said the chief lesson learnt was the importance of long-term, integrated planning.

Without thorough planning, it would be hard to find a good balance between the competing and often conflicting needs for housing, transportation, industrial activity and a clean environment.

‘Planning ahead before the need becomes urgent is written into the culture of every government agency (in Singapore),’ said Mr Tharman. ‘If you don’t plan ahead, it is hard to find the right trade-offs.’

Another key feature of Singapore’s approach towards urbanisation is in letting the market decide how best to allocate scarce resources, like land and water, whenever possible.

But in areas where market forces are inadequate, such as public housing or pension funds, policymakers have to intervene in order to maintain greater societal balance, he noted.

Added Mr Tharman: ‘We are not a model of something that has reached perfection, but merely a model of constant learning and adaptation that tries to use the best ideas from around the world.’

Officials from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Public Utilities Board also shared their experience with about 100 World Bank officers from Asia and Africa at the conference.

More plants in Orchard Rd to attract butterfly breeding

By Lynda Hong in Channel News Asia (12 October 2010):

SINGAPORE: Nature enthusiasts on Tuesday planted 2,570 plants, shrubs and trees at Orchard Road to entice butterflies to breed there.

The patch of lush green at Penang Road Open Space, along with the 280 square metre garden on the top two floors of Orchard Central are the 14th designated butterfly sites of Singapore’s Nature Society.

The 14th designated butterfly sites of the Butterfly Trail Project is a strategic partnership project among Nature Society (Singapore), National Parks Board, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Orchard Road Business Association.

But enthusiasts said growing a butterfly population at 12 storeys high was a challenge.

Nature Society Singapore’s Butterfly Interest Group chairperson Gan Cheong Weei said: “They will not fly up in (an) open area because there is no shelter; no protection.

“But if there are tall trees, they will fly up. (Or) if there is enough population (there) and (if) there are host plants and flowering plants up there.

“But of course this is all nature and we try our best to bring it there and we cross our fingers (that) they will do what we want them to do”.


By Alex Morales and Todd White for Business Week/Bloomberg (6 October 2010):

Neste Oil Oyj will soon begin making low-emissions diesel at a 550 million-euro ($762 million) plant in Singapore, ramping up production of renewable fuels that may provide a third of earnings after 2012, a company official said.

“We’re very close to start-up,” Jarmo Honkamaa, deputy chief executive officer of Neste Oil, Finland’s only petroleum refiner, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “We’re well on time and within the budget” for the project, which uses plant and animal products as feedstock.

Neste is investing more than 1 billion euros together in the Singapore plant and a second one to open in Rotterdam next year as it banks on government mandates in Europe and North America to boost sales of “clean” diesel, which pollutes less than petroleum-based diesel fuel.

After 2012, biofuels may contribute a third of Espoo-based Neste’s earnings before interest and tax, or Ebit, Honkamaa said. “The renewable fuels business has this year not contributed anything to the bottom line, because it has been negative numbers,” he said.

Honkamaa’s estimate is reasonable and represents a return on investment of about 15 percent in 2013, Antti Koskivuori, an analyst at Evli Bank in Helsinki with a “reduce” rating on the stock, said in an interview.

“They’re expecting the difference in price between renewable diesel and palm oil to be similar on average to where it´s been in the past three to five years,” Koskivuori said.

Most of the raw materials for the Singapore plant — initially palm oil and later also animal fats — have been contracted already, with a mixture of 2- to 3-year, 1-year and 3-month agreements reached, the executive said, declining to name the providers. A similar mix of sales agreements for the finished product is set, he said.

‘Gradual Ramp-Up’

“It will be a gradual ramp-up of production,” Honkamaa said. “In the first month we’ll get to around half of maximum capacity, and in the second month we will be getting close to the full capacity” of 800,000 metric tons a year. Honkamaa declined to say what date production will begin.

The plant in Rotterdam, which will have the same volume as the Singapore refinery, is on course to open “by next summer” and will come in “some tens of millions of euros below” its original price tag of 670 million euros, he said.

The markets first will be mainly in Europe and then in North America, Honkamaa said. “We may have some deliveries this year but significant volumes will come next year.”

Going forward, Honkamaa said he expects markets in Asia to grow as well as California.

“We are talking with some of the players in the Asian market. Japan is an interesting market, maybe South Korea,” he said. “We’d love to see some volume staying in Singapore, and in the longer term China is interesting.”


One Response to “Attaining Sustainable Urban Development Singapore-style”

  1. [...] Africa experiencing the most rapid growth. It is also believed that by 2025, the world will have 26 mega-cities, each with a population of more than 10 [...]

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