Singapore to invest S$25 million in marine climate change research

Singapore to invest S$25 million in marine climate change research

sea turtle beach
The baby hawksbill turtle on the beach at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, just before it went back into the sea. (Photo: NParks)

SINGAPORE: To address issues like rising sea levels and warmer sea surface temperatures, the National Parks Board (NParks) will lead a new S$25 million research programme on marine climate change. 

It is among five initiatives announced on Friday (Mar 26) to study urban sustainability.

The initiatives are part of the Government’s S$25 billion RIE 2025 plan, which charts Singapore's research direction over the new five years.

“If done well, our R&D efforts will not only make our city more resilient but will also help to strengthen our economy,” said National Development Minister Desmond Lee at an event called Urban Sustainability R&D E-Symposia 2021.

In his speech, Mr Lee said that the Marine Climate Change Science programme will comprise different research areas.

It will strive to better understand the impact of climate change on marine species, habitats, ecosystems and connectivity, and use nature-based solutions and ecological engineering to study how to better protect Singapore’s coasts from rising sea levels.

READ: Green Plan not a 'compilation of existing initiatives' but long-term plan that will evolve: Grace Fu

It will also look at blue carbon - carbon that is captured and stored by coastal and marine ecosystems - to help Singapore further reduce its carbon footprint.

“So we achieve two objectives at the same time - reducing our carbon emissions and conserving our natural environment,” he said.

Government agencies, research institutes and industry partners will collaborate on this programme.

Separately, water agency PUB is looking into ways to reduce energy consumed and waste produced by desalination. It recently awarded nearly S$11 million to six projects researching new technologies for this purpose.

TRANSFORMING THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT SECTOR

As part of the Government’s effort to shift the built environment sector away from its reliance on manual labour, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research will develop a 5G-enabled Smart Construction concept.

They will look into integrating 5G technology with drones, robots and artificial intelligence to monitor construction sites.

“Technological breakthroughs from around the world can help us to build faster, safer, and more efficiently – for example, through greater use of robotics, automation, and digitalisation,” said Mr Lee, adding that this could include incorporating robot-oriented design in construction.

READ: New and existing buildings required to be more energy efficient under revised BCA standards

READ: Public sector to set first carbon emissions target as part of sustainability drive

A CITY TO FORGE STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Another priority for the Government is to strengthen Singapore’s urban social sciences.

“We aspire to build a city that not only meets our physical needs, but that also enables us to forge strong relationships and deep emotional connections with each other,” said Mr Lee.

READ: In striving for sustainability, important for Singapore not to 'lock into' technologies prematurely: Grace Fu 

To understand how the well-being of residents is affected by Singapore’s built environment, the Government will combine social science knowledge with big data analytics, in a project that is said to be the first of its kind.

“If this effort is successful, our findings will inform our planning strategies and interventions, to build a socially more resilient and sustainable city,” he said.

CLOSER PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN RESEARCH, PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS

HDB and A*STAR will sign a Memorandum of Understanding which aims to take the research findings from the Ministry of National Development’s agencies and turn them into commercial applications before scaling up, said Mr Lee.

He noted that this would make Singapore’s built environment industry more competitive.

Said the minister: “I encourage all our industry and research partners to tap on these platforms for collaboration and turn your ideas into deployable solutions and bring them to market.”

Source: CNA/cc(gs)

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