S'pore pushes integrated approach for urbanization challenges

For first time, country will hold three global events together--World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and inaugural CleanEnviro Summit--to provide wider and integrated platform for exchange of ideas to tackle increasingly complex problems.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Come July, the country will take a new approach to help global cities find solutions to challenges regarding urbanization by simultaneously hosting three events--World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week, and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit.

At a media briefing held here Friday, show organizers expressed hope that the integration of all three events--themed "liveable and sustainable cities"--will give world leaders a wider platform to exchange ideas and best practices. Topics to be discussed include how technology can be harnessed to build smart cities.

Technology will play an important part in making cities more liveable and sustainable, noted Cheng Hsing Yao, deputy executive director at the Centre for Liveable Cities. "When it's used with strong governance and very well-evolved policies, technologies could be used to trace and sense and track, say, the flow of traffic, water and drainage, and so on.

"In addition, technologies can also be used for things such as telecommuting so we can spend less time on moving around and more time on quality life," Cheng told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the briefing.

One focus at the biannual World Cities Summit will be the ramping up of opportunities for business collaboration. This includes a new platform, called in-focus sessions, on which government leaders and service providers share their ideas and explore investment opportunities in the region, he said.

Cheng pointed out that one of the in-focus sessions will focus on Japan's experience in its rebuilding efforts after a spate of natural disasters recently.

Added focus on waste management
Another new event that will be introduced is the CleanEnviro Summit which will focus on waste management solutions. Citing estimates from Pike Research, Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) noted that, in 2011, out of the 2 billion tonnes of municipal waste generated around the world, only 11 percent went into waste-to-energy plants, while the majority 70 percent ended up in landfills.

According to NEA CEO Andrew Tan, the summit was timely as discussions over waste management had always taken a backseat to other issues such as water and energy.

"There's one area that's missing in this equation and that is waste," Tan said. "If you look around the world today, particularly in Asia, most of the waste is dumped in landfills. It may be the easiest solution but it may not be the best, and I think it's time to look at more sustainable ways of managing waste."

Encouraging more partnerships
The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), which will be in its fifth instalment this year, is seeking to encourage more partnerships for water solutions.

Chew Men Leong, CEO of Singapore's Public Utilities Board, said the show's networking platform TechXchange--introduced last year--will be expanded.

"This year, TechXchange will be full day [event], where we will bring the innovators and match them with investors, and see how we can take the technologies out of the labs and help to commercialize them--both in Singapore, and on a regional and global basis."

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