NATIONAL Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday morning highlighted to mayors around the world three considerations that Singapore keeps in the course of urban planning.
This was at the World Cities Summit (WCS) Mayors Forum at Marina Bay Sands which started on Sunday.
The first consideration is the need for long-term planning, and systematic implementation thereafter.
“It is not easy to do this at a time when we are facing a more frantic social and media culture expecting more immediate results,” he said.
One example of long-term planning and the fruit it has borne today is founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a garden city for Singapore, because it helped to create a sense of “equal-ness” in society so that regardless of one’s social class, no one is excluded from public green spaces in Singapore.
The second is the need for constant innovation and research and development. In Singapore, necessity has motivated its people to innovate to overcome land, energy and water constraints, and turned its vulnerabilities into strengths, he said.
He gave the example of Singapore’s plans to move all its port-related activities to Tuas South from 2027, freeing up prime land in Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang. Some of this space will be used to expand the city centre.
Singapore has also moved its cooling systems underground to save space and energy. It is exploring new transportation modes such as the use of autonomous vehicles.
The third is the need to constantly engage stakeholders.
He gave the example of the government’s regulations to maintain a certain ethnic balance in every block of public flats. This began from the time of re-settlement of residents from villages to government-built new high-rise flats. The purpose was to promote social cohesion.
“It’s a very intrusive social policy, very difficult to implement, but we’ve done it for many years.”
He said that the “unabated” pace of urbanisation in today’s world can also pose “tremendous opportunities”. He added that while different cities grapple with unique challenges, they also face similar issues and objectives.
The forum will thus allow mayors around the world to exchange their experiences in city-building and learn from one another.