Singapore gets top marks in UN World’s Cities Report

The United Nations (UN) gave Singapore top marks in its latest report on the state of the world’s cities, and has said it is keen to deepen its collaboration with Singapore as a knowledge hub.

The UN also called on cities to take on pro-growth policies that support the poor and strengthen infrastructure. It said all these can make a difference when it comes to sustainable living.

The UN said people’s consumption and lifestyle patterns, and not urbanization, are to blame for climate change. To solve the problem, cities need to use less fossil fuel, maximise recycling and have a well-planned transport network.

Singapore, which set up an inter-ministerial committee on sustainable development in February, has been highlighted for its low per capita car ownership.

With its greening policy, Singapore has also been singled out as a country that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits. Another achievement is that Singapore is the only country with no slums.

Director of Monitoring and Research at UN-HABITAT, Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said: “Obviously, (the) government has taken pro-active steps over a long period of time because it has to be sustained.

“One of the problems you find in most countries is they actually start well, but you need constant investment, sustained effort (and) visionary leadership to sustain those kinds of actions.”

The latest UN report by UN-HABITAT, the agency working to boost the liveability of cities, studied 245 cities. The report is a lead-up to the UN World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China in November.

It noted another worrying concern of rising sea levels, and Southeast Asia in particular is at the highest risk due to its low elevation.

Singapore has said in parliament in September that it has taken measures in terms of building requirements on reclaimed land and drainage infrastructure. A two-year study to understand the specific implications of climate change, including rising sea levels, is also expected to be ready in 2009.

Director of Centre for Liveable Cities, Andrew Tan, said: “Moving forward, I would say that having achieved the level of environmental quality we have in Singapore, there is still a need for us to maintain these efforts.

“It’s necessary for Singaporeans to be proud of what they have achieved, but at the same time, to know that sustained efforts is required.”

The UN has lauded the 43-year-old city state as a model city. However, experts cautioned that as all cities progress, they will no longer be measured just by their level of economic, social and environmental progress.

Cities like Singapore will also have to look at its inclusiveness and its quality of life. Related to this, the report said cultural assets too should be protected to nurture the soul of the city.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 24 Oct 2008

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