Saturday, June 27, 2009

PM Lee says Singapore's challenge is sustaining the environment long-term

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singapore's challenge is to sustain the environment as the city grows.

Speaking at the opening of Singapore’s largest water reclamation plant in Changi on Tuesday, Mr Lee said that to do so, the country must take a long-term view, prepare well ahead and align efforts across the government.

The launch of the Changi Water Reclamation Plant is another milestone in Singapore's overall strategy towards sustainable development. Not only does the plant treat used water, it is also a feedstock for large scale production of NEWater.

Mr Lee said Singapore's basic attitude has been that environmental sustainability is not incompatible with economic development. He added: "But far from degrading our environment, we have improved it. Singapore has become a clean and green city with a high quality living environment."

"Singaporeans enjoy fresh air, clean water and good public health, and almost half the island is covered with greenery, parks and nature areas."

But challenges on how to sustain the environment remain, which is why Singapore has set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (on Sustainable Development) to develop a blueprint for a sustainable future. "Community action is especially important, because we need everyone to play an active role," said Mr Lee.

"I am glad Singaporeans took an active interest in developing our Blueprint and come forward with many ideas and suggestions to improve our living environment. I hope Singaporeans will continue to contribute.

"Achieving sustainable development will call for each one of us to make an effort, to give our ideas and to adjust our lifestyles. Our Blueprint is meant to be an evolving and living concept.

"As we understand the sustainable challenge better, and as technology improves, we will continue to test out new solutions and push for higher standards."

Mr Lee said that to break new ground in sustainable development, cities will require a combination of far-sighted planning, sustained investment in infrastructure and breakthroughs in technology. Hence, he said Singapore is keen to promote an international exchange of ideas on this.

Mr Lee added that Singapore's experience has shown that cities can overcome environmental and developmental changes by setting long-term goals and working consistently towards achieving them.

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