Speech by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development Lee Yi Shyan at the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress 2013
A very good morning to all of you. Welcome to the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress 2013.
Thanks to technological advancements and sound planning, cities today are far more comfortable to live in than ever before. One of the key inventions that enabled comfortable high-density urbanisation has been the invention of HVAC (Heat Ventilation Air Conditioning) system. Regardless of climatic conditions, cities all over employ HVACs to provide suitable indoor temperature ranges suitable for human activities and high quality living.
In the case of Singapore, air conditioning has not only provided us with a cooler and drier indoor environment, but also sheltered us from the severe haze we saw in Singapore last week. As the weather pattern becomes more erratic, cities become larger, the need for more and quicker technological solutions has become paramount and pressing. Rising expectation of city dwellers would also demand better solutions that render city living more comfortable.
This Urban Sustainability R&D Congress therefore would bring together all relevant stakeholders: research institutes, private and public sector industry to share, brainstorm and co-create R&D solutions to address Singapore’s unique needs or sustainable development.
Liveable, Sustainable, Resource-Resilient
The theme for this year’s Congress is “Creating a Future-Ready City” – A theme that challenges us to think not just to solve the problems now, but to anticipate the solutions for tomorrow.
Last November, our Prime Minister launched the $135 million Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (NIC). The programme aims to support innovative ideas and solutions that enable a highly liveable, economically vibrant and resilient city of the future.
To operationalise this NIC, MND, NRF and partner agencies such as A*Star, HDB, IDA, JTC and URA have commenced extensive consultations with researchers and industry to develop a comprehensive NIC roadmap.
For instance, in “Creating New Space”, we would like to examine feasible ideas for better use of underground spaces. We might ask for instance if we could move goods underground, minimising the need to transport them above ground, thereby relieving road congestions. What are the activities, social and economic, that can be hosted underground?
In “Optimising Space”, we would like to see innovative designs that could improve thermal comfort, natural ventilation and noise reduction. In addition, we would also consider better use of IT and big data, to provide better municipal services and traffic management.
I believe there is great synergy to combine our resources amongst our research institutes, private and public sector in creating innovative solutions that are practical and effective, for deployment in our kind of environment. With some modifications, we could even consider exporting some of these new solutions to other cities and countries of different climatic considerations.
In support of public-private R&D projects, we have set a number of initiatives in motion. I am pleased to note that they are making good progress. Let me elaborate.
Firstly, MND is awarding $12 million in R&D grants for projects submitted under (a) the inaugural Sustainable Urban Living, and (b) the 2nd Green Building competitive grant calls. Some of these R&D project proposals will look at new underground construction methods, while others will explore improving building materials, such as heat and glare reducing “smart” windows and “cool” paint.
Secondly, MND has also earmarked another $25 million for new R&D programs. Under the Energy Innovation Research Programme, we will invite project proposals for energy efficient solutions applied in tropical buildings. The Building and Construction Authority will also be rolling out a new “Innovation Grant” to enable faster deployment of R&D outcomes to the industry.
Thirdly, I am pleased to note that the L2 NIC will be making its first grant call by the end of the year. We hope to see enthusiastic responses from our stakeholder agencies. MND-NRF will announce the details separately.
I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate our three winners of the Minister for National Development R&D Awards. The Minister’s Award is given to projects that have contributed significantly to urban sustainability in Singapore. HDB’s Punggol Waterway project, BCA’s project on recycling waste into high value construction material, and NTU’s water reclamation project are all worthy winners.
“Creating a future-ready City” challenges us to stretch our planning and design parameters to accommodate both the knowns and unknowns. It challenges us to anticipate the many changing needs of the city dwellers and perhaps even changing demographics. We may not always anticipate right but we can make enough provisions and room for growth, for taking in innovations and solutions we have yet known. Meanwhile, let us do the best we can in minimising our resource footprints while we expand and grow our cities. After all, sustainable development means not to deny our future and future generations the right to enjoy what we have today.
On this note, let me wish everyone a very productive Congress. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of National Development