Adapting To Changes
Although much has been achieved since independence, certain things will remain the same: Singapore will always be a small country in an uncertain world with no natural resources. This will always continue to present challenges for us.
While we have made significant strides in tackling our water scarcity problem, we now have to confront climate change as well. As a low-lying island nation, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to the threat of rising sea levels – one that will threaten the country’s very existence.
We are already feeling the impact. In 2019, a report found that Southeast Asia would be hardest hit by rising sea levels due to melting ice sheets, as over 450 million people in the region live in low coastal zones.
With 30 per cent of the island less than five metres above sea level, Singapore will be badly affected should sea levels continue to rise. The Centre of Climate Research Singapore has found that in the rare event of higher sea levels, high tides, and a storm happening concurrently, sea levels could rise by four metres and swamp Singapore’s coastal areas.
Tackling such a formidable challenge requires all of us to start acting now to prevent further damage to the environment. Mitigating climate change requires everyone to do their part by reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
For instance, we are changing our physical and urban environment to mitigate potential flood risks. This includes deepening and widening drains and protecting critical infrastructure. We are also rethinking how buildings can stay cool without the use of energy-intensive air-conditioners. This includes changing the layouts of facilities to ensure better ventilation and increasing vegetation cover across the island.
Image: Draining Planning / from PUB
We are also progressively strengthening our defences against rising sea levels through the use of reclaimed land. Singapore is exploring the option of reclaiming a series of islands from Marina East to Changi. By connecting them with a barrage to create a bulwark, it will be one way that the country can adapt to rising sea levels.
But land reclamation is both expensive and challenging to do, especially since it requires large quantities of sand – a resource that Singapore does not have a large abundance of.