DPM: The pandemic offers a rare opportunity to reinvent cities
Cities may have been hit because of Covid-19, but they will continue to remain relevant and attract people, and the pandemic provides a unique opportunity to reimagine the cities of tomorrow, Deputy Prime Minister Heng said. Swee Keat. yesterday.
He added that the pandemic has heightened the value of building liveable cities, which are also resilient and not just efficient.
“Covid-19 has changed our way of life, especially in cities. But I believe cities are here to stay. Cities will remain the best places for humans to explore, learn and interact, to thrive as individuals and to collaborate and accomplish more, together, ”Heng said at the summit. world of cities.
Cities around the world emptied and became quieter during the pandemic, as people moved to the countryside to escape the high population densities and concentration of activities that increased the risk of coronavirus infection.
But Heng, in his opening summit speech, said the reality is much more complex and nuanced, and different cities have been affected to varying degrees.
“Population density is important, but other factors such as access to quality health care, trust in government and adherence to sound management measures are just as important, if not more,” a- he added.
A key element of the pandemic is the need to develop resilient, sustainable and livable cities, he said.
“Quality of life is fundamentally about people – enabling people to thrive and improve their quality of life,” he added.
The pandemic is also a stark reminder that countries must work together to better respond to complex global challenges like climate change, he said.
In this regard, cities will play a key role as they represent more than half of the world’s population and 70% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
He offered three suggestions on how to build such cities of tomorrow. First, countries will need to innovate, rethinking urban planning and also exploring the use of technology.
He said Singapore, for example, has started to bring work and conveniences closer to homes to reduce the need to move and has also incorporated green spaces into cityscapes.
The pandemic has given new impetus to these efforts, he added. He also said that the use of technology can help solve problems facing cities, for example by ensuring that the highly built environment remains climate resilient and livable.
The “Cooling Singapore” project was launched to explore ways to cool the country, which is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world due to global warming and the urban heat island effect, for example. Mr. Heng said the developed solutions can also be used by other cities.
Second, countries will need to invest in transport, telecommunications, social and digital infrastructure. To help finance these investments, cross-border capital flows will need to be improved, Heng said. He added that green finance is an important aspect of this and that Singapore now accounts for over a third of the sustainability lending market in the Asia Pacific region.
With Southeast Asia home to the world’s largest stock of blue carbon, with the largest areas of mangroves and sea grasslands in Indonesia and the Philippines, the region may also seek nature-based solutions. for carbon reduction, he suggested. Blue carbon refers to the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.
To do this, countries should attract investment, and one of the ways is to develop dynamic trading for the trading of carbon credits, he said.
Third, countries will need to better integrate their efforts.
He urged countries to build on the momentum of the unprecedented level of information-sharing and cooperation in science and technology that was triggered by the pandemic. For example, countries can strive to harmonize data standards to facilitate the growth of the digital economy.
The World Cities Summit, which ends tomorrow, takes place in a hybrid format, online and in person at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
In a dialogue moderated by Goodwill Ambassador Ong Keng Yong after Mr. Heng’s speech, the Deputy Prime Minister was asked how cities could speed up their recovery after a disruptive event like the pandemic.
Mr Heng said it was essential to expect and prepare for more frequent disruptions – and to learn from past crises. “To assume that the future is like the good old days will be totally unrealistic and I will say irresponsible,” he noted.
He highlighted two main areas to work on: advancing knowledge of society as a whole and deepening people’s trust in authoritative sources of information.
Citing the online spread of lies about the origins of the virus and vaccines amid the pandemic, Mr Heng said, “I’m all for good scientific debate… but it’s dangerous when people exploit social media. to express their own mistaken views and hope to turn it into a political advantage. “
“Social media companies need to take responsibility for their activities,” he added. “In a pandemic like this… good, accurate information is very critical to the response – not just from you and me, but really from everyone in the world.”