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THE DIPLOMAT’S VIEW


GREEN DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTHEAST ASIA


MASS URBANISATION AND THE GROWING PRESSURES OF CLIMATE CHANGE MEANS THAT 21ST CENTURY CITIES NEED TO BE GREEN AS WELL AS SMART, SAYS JUDITH SLATER, DEPUTY HIGH COMMISSIONER SINGAPORE AND SE ASIA REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT


U


rbanisation is occurring at a fast pace in Southeast Asia, with the region due to be one of the world’s top ten largest economies by 2020. UK Trade and


Investment (UKTI) has identified this potential for huge growth and Judith Slater, Deputy High Commissioner Singapore and SE Asia Regional Director of Trade and Investment, emphasises how the cities there are ensuring that their development does not lose sight of environmental concerns. By far the most developed nation in the


region, Singapore is also a major financial centre. “Singapore prides itself on having low pollution,” says Judith, explaining that the motivation behind this green push is not entirely driven by environmental concerns. “It is very keen to make itself a very liveable city, both for its own people and incoming professionals.” Hong Kong is seen as the main competitor


for attracting these people, but has had a big problem with pollution in recent years. So keeping pollution low is an important factor in keeping Singapore ahead of its rival. So it seems that focusing on green issues makes


a growing city more attractive to overseas workers, by improving its reputation abroad. In 2009, the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) set out its plan to achieve a sustainable built environment by 2030. In practical terms this means that 80 percent of the buildings have to be green. Green buildings are clearly essential to a green city, and over half of all the world’s resources are used in construction. But as Judith explains, Singapore has developed its city while minimising the resources it uses to house its population.


22 EXPERTVIEW SPRING 2015 “It is a bit of a myth that Singapore is


completely built up,” she says. “Tere are some areas that are extremely densely populated, and most people live in high-rise housing which is government-built, but almost all privately owned. It makes for extremely efficient land use.” Efficiency is a running theme within Singapore,


and seems to be essential to the development of a functioning green city. “Singapore has the most efficient airport in the world,” says Judith. “Tey have very strict rules for carriers and handlers. Teir target time is an incredible 12 minutes from landing to getting out of the airport, and they actually manage this most of the time. Tis means less time taxiing, which guzzles fuel and is a high carbon emitter. Tere are virtually no queues at Changi Airport, and they have very strict penalties on the companies operating there if they fail to meet the high standards. So the efficiency is not by accident.” UKTI is encouraging British companies


to get involved with the development in the region. Singapore has close historical ties to


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