SINGAPORE: As part of efforts to boost flood resilience, Singapore will spend an additional S$400 million to upgrade and maintain drains over the next two years, announced Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Jul 17).
Speaking at the 2019 Partners for the Environment forum, Mr Masagos said Singapore remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change, despite previous efforts to protect the environment and improve resilience.
“We can thank our pioneer leaders for putting us in a better position, but the urgency of environmental challenges cannot be understated ... we must remain clear-eyed about Singapore’s vulnerability as a small, low-lying island with no natural resources and no hinterland to retreat to if sea levels rise,” he explained.
As such, there is a need to plan, invest and implement solutions for the long haul, said Mr Masagos.
Singapore has already spent around S$1.8 billion on drainage improvement works, and this includes the Stamford Diversion Canal and the Stamford Detention Tank, which were completed last year.
“Singapore has always prided ourselves on our foresight and long-term planning. By planning early, we can phase in the necessary measures in a timely manner whilst spreading out the costs over many years,” said Mr Masagos.
Giving the example of a 1953 storm surge in the North Sea which overwhelmed dykes in the Netherlands and resulted in 1,800 deaths, Mr Masagos called it an “unfortunate” incident, as scientific studies years before had warned that its existing dykes were inadequate.
He said: “We must be prepared to make the necessary investments to protect Singapore against sea level rise and, for critical infrastructure, against the ‘perfect storm’.”
EVERY EFFORT COUNTS
Mr Masagos also pointed out that there needs to be collective action, and that "we need to partner businesses, individuals and organisations to come up with creative and effective solutions".
“The Government has initiated the momentum for action. But we cannot do this alone,” he said. “As Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said last month, we believe in expanding our democracy of deeds, where Singaporeans contribute not just their ideas, but also their efforts to build our future.”
This includes people making climate-friendly choices such as reducing single-use plastics and purchasing appliances which have less environmental impact, said Mr Masagos.
In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources will convene a Citizens’ Workgroup by September to get 50 Singaporeans to work with them to come up with solutions to improve the way recycling is done, said Mr Masagos.
The workgroup will include Singaporeans from different backgrounds and will be given access to policy-relevant information, such as household recycling surveys.
“We need everyone to play their part and as one nation, overcome the existential challenge that climate change poses, which can threaten our way of life,” said Mr Masagos.
“If we put our heads, hearts and minds together, we will come out of this for the better and will leave behind a more resilient and prosperous Singapore for our children, grandchildren and many generations to come.”