This is How Singapore Can Become More Resilient to Climate Change

This year’s Climate and Society class is out in the field (or lab or office) completing a summer internship or thesis. They’ll be documenting their experiences one blog post at a time. Read on to see what they’re up to.

Yung-Jen ChenC+S ’16

The island city-state has the third largest population density in the world.,With so many people in very small space in harm’s way from rising seas and other climate change impacts, the government is seeking to improve its resiliency.

In order to tackle climate change, the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) was established in July 2010 to develop and implement domestic and international climate policies and strategies in Singapore. Climate adaptation is one of the major issues NCCS addresses and its one that I am eager to investigate during my two-month internship at an urban planning consultant firm in Singapore. The core of the issue is how can “the policies and strategies from NCCS be implemented and adopted in Singaporean urban planning model?”

The impacts of climate change on Singapore affect notably on water issues. As a low-lying island, sea level rise poses an immediate flooding threat to Singapore. Increased intensity of rainfall poses significant challenges to water resource management . Periods of drought could impact Singapore’s water supply, while sudden episodes of intense rainfall could overwhelm the drainage system and result in flash floods. Further, back in 2001 the first recorded cyclone near the equator occurred. Typhoon Vamei hit north of Singapore and caused major floods. Although it is uncertain whether tropical cyclones near the equator will occur more frequently due to climate change, Singaporean is certainly not 100 percent safe from the risk of cyclones and the extreme rainfall they can bring.

Source: The National Climate Change Secretariat

Source: The National Climate Change Secretariat

It is vital to ensure that rainwater drainage is well managed and ready for potential climate change impacts. The Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme initiated in 2006 by PUB, Singapore’s national water agency radically transformed Singapore’s water network. The ABC Waters Programme adopts a Source-Pathway-Receptor Approach and measures that cover the entire drainage system. The “Source-Pathway-Receptor” approach seeks to capture, redirect and store excess rainwater by innovative urban infrastructure. This system has the potential to reduce flood risks and more effectively manage water resources.

ource: Singapore’s Climate Action Plan: A Climate-Resilient Singapore, For a Sustainable Future

Source: Singapore’s Climate Action Plan: A Climate-Resilient Singapore, For a Sustainable Future

Ten years after the launch of the ABC Waters Programme, PUB has completed 32 public ABC Waters projects across the island and formed a seamless blue-green network which is intimately integrated with land use development. The ABC Waters program not only incorporates engineering but more importantly urban planning, landscape design, the behavioural framework of urban design, and a commitment to community involvement. To further promote a wider adoption of ABC Water design features, PUB will keep working with various stakeholders such as private land developers and public agencies. In collaboration with NCCS, ABC Waters Programme adjusted their design guideline and minimum standard. The next step is exploring a framework to facilitate ABC Water design guidance in new developments and also adopt design features within existing developed sites. By adopting this climate-adaptive water management strategy in urban planning practice, Singapore has already embarked on a path to a resilient city of gardens and water.

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