Sustaining a global city-state and the challenges of environmental governance in the twenty-first century

Authored by: Carl Grundy-Warr , Victor R. Savage

Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415625210
eBook ISBN: 9781315474892
Adobe ISBN: 9781315474885


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Since independence, the Singapore state has developed ‘Garden City’, ‘eco-city’ and ‘sustainable Singapore’ ideas through public policy, urban planning mechanisms, statutory boards and a legal framework. In this chapter, we argue that Singapore has successfully managed many ‘brown issues’ (refuse disposal, littering, sewerage, sanitation, drainage, clean water and energy use) through public housing, transportation policy (including extensions of the mass rapid transport, or MRT, system), desalination, recycling and conserving water, strict air pollution standards and ensuring compliance of environmental management controls in the private sector. As Savage (2012, p. 23) notes: ‘The government, [Housing and Development Board] and other statutory boards set the benchmarks for keeping the city clean and these are translated to and emulated by the private sector.’ We argue that, despite this successful environmental record to date, competing multi-stakeholder demands on scarce land and resources have intensified over time, and there are growing challenges to urban sustainability from within, as well as numerous environmentally related roles, responsibilities, threats and challenges for Singapore as a global ‘city-state’.

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