SINGAPORE – Singapore faces two challenges from climate change and is pursuing a new coastal protection plan to preserve the island’s most vulnerable coastlines, the country’s environment minister said.
“Our dual challenges are coastal flooding … (and) extreme rainstorms, which can lead to more intense inland flooding. So we need a system that will help us address both issues,” said Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the environment.
The project, launched Tuesday by Singapore’s national water agency PUB, will collect science and data on how best to mitigate and adjust coastal damage before creating a road map, Fu told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday .
Singapore, a small Southeast Asian city-state smaller than New York City, has worked for years to protect its coastline from sea level rise and other environmental damage.
Much of the country is only 15 meters above mean sea level, with about 30% of the country less than 5 meters above mean sea level. This has prompted authorities to introduce a minimum land reclamation of 4 meters – a number that would likely soon increase to 5 meters, Fu said.
“We want to understand the effects of all of these climate scenarios on our environment, sea water levels and also the tidal differences that are coming our way,” she said.
The first region to fall under the plan will be 57.8 km of coastline stretching across Singapore’s Greater South Waterfront. These include the city’s central business district, the east coast and Changi, which is where Singapore’s Changi Airport is located.
The skyline of the financial and business center can be seen in the background as people paddle along the beach at East Coast Park in Singapore on July 17, 2020.
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Singapore’s new coastal defense strategy gives private developers an opportunity to help shape their future, Fu said.
The study starts with a $ 5 billion fund and will be carried out over the next four years by a privately owned consortium of Singaporean and Dutch consulting firms. This process will in turn open the door for other private companies to offer green solutions, Fu said.
“For the investments that the government is making, I am sure that the private sector can benefit from building and delivering the tech solutions,” she said.
“Developers along the way will have an idea of the plan we are pursuing,” she said. “So if you build infrastructure, if you build buildings, if you build offices, or if you build recreational facilities, you have to build with this science, this data and these assumptions.”
The project takes place amid increasing efforts to reduce the effects of climate change around the world.