Already regarded internationally as being at the forefront of environmental sustainability and liveability with a second-place rank in 2016’s Sustainable Cities Index, Singapore continues to work on improving both its built and natural environment, with the long-term goal of providing its citizens with a higher quality of life.

To that end, under Singapore’s Research Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan, which is the country’s sixth roadmap for research and development, a S$900 million budget was set aside by the government in 2015 specifically for work in Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS).

That financial boost has since borne fruit, with a slew of new initiatives launched in 2017 aimed at promoting sustainability in the country.

Image Source: AsiaOne

Among the notable projects launched was the country’s first electric car-sharing service. Set up and helmed by BlueSG, a subsidiary of the Bolloré Group which started a similar service in Paris, a total of 80 cars and 32 charging stations were made available for public use across the country in December.

BlueSG aims to increase the fleet to 1,000 cars – and 2,000 charging points – by 2020 as part of Singapore’s vision to achieve urban mobility and a sustainable transport system.

Another landmark enterprise was the installation of Singapore’s first long-span wind turbine at Semakau Landfill in October. A joint-project between Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Energy Research Institute and French multinational electric utility company ENGIE, the turbine with three 10.5m long rotor blades, stands at 14 storeys high and produces an electrical output rating of approximately 100 kilowatts – enough to power 45 four-room public housing flats.

Image Source: The Straits Times

The new turbine is part of NTU’s Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator-Singapore (REIDS) project, an initiative which is expected to bring in close to S$20 million worth of projects over the next four years. A total of 12 new partners, including notable players in the energy industry such as Keppel Corporation, EDF Energy and Emerson Electric, have already signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with REIDS during the Singapore International Energy Week 2017 in October.

Other initiatives that were introduced include the installation of a pneumatic waste conveyance system, which uses vacuum-type underground pipes to automatically gather household garbage from about 3,200 households at Jurong’s Yuhua estate in the west. This was a pilot of the Housing Development Board’s Greenprint Programme to develop sustainable homes, and to create cleaner and greener living environments.

Also, a fifth NEWater plant that opened in January means that the Public Utilities Board is now capable of supplying close to 40 per cent of Singapore’s total daily water requirement.

Along with these initiatives, several MICE events related to Urban Solutions and Sustainability were also held in Singapore in 2017.

Image Source: Facebook / GreenUrbanScape Asia

One such event in November was greenery and landscape design conference GreenUrbanScape Asia 2017. The three-day event, which saw leading players in the greenery and landscape industry showcase their innovative technologies and solutions, featured about 120 exhibiting companies and brands, and attracted around 4,000 trade professionals and buyers, as well as close to 700 conference delegates.

Two other events were The International Water Association’s Specialist Conference on Membrane Technology for Water and Wastewater Treatment, which saw experts from around the world coming together to discuss the latest developments on water-related membrane technology, as well as the International Green Building Conference, a sharing session on innovation towards sustainable buildings. Both events were held in September.

These initiatives and events, together with the Government’s drive to ramp up sustainability efforts over the next two years in line with the RIE 2020 plan, will see Singapore’s vision of transforming into a highly liveable and citizen-centric city with a sustainable urban ecosystem becoming a reality.