Singapore’s resilience journey

Singapore has come a long way in its transformation into a livable and resilient city. In the 1960s, living conditions were far from ideal. Citizens were subject to poor public health conditions, lack of quality housing, low connectivity across the island, and employment insecurity.

The situation is very different today. The quality of life in Singapore has significantly improved: everyone has access to a clean and green environment, and can live in an inclusive society with opportunities for all.

As a small city-state with limited natural resources, Singapore was keenly aware of the need to adapt and evolve to constantly changing circumstances. Accordingly, the city focuses on long-term urban planning, and developing contingency plans for different scenarios. This is done in a holistic, integrated manner, working across different sectors and involving different stakeholders to create a sustainable and livable Singapore.

Resilience is not only about robust physical infrastructure, but also about working closely with communities and stakeholders. For example, in providing affordable and good-quality public housing in Singapore, the city not only constructs the buildings, but also develops programmes to bring residents closer together and foster strong community bonds. Through this process, neighbours can forge deeper support networks on which they can rely during times of need.

Likewise, Singapore’s approaches water management as more than just a supply issue. The city saw an opportunity to innovate and grow its water industries, and also to create beautiful blue-green recreational spaces through efforts such as the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters program (ABC) and the Park Connector Network (PCN).

While Singapore has achieved much, there is still much to be done. Building an increasingly resilient Singapore is an ongoing journey, where the results hinge on the combined efforts of the government, communities, and stakeholders.

Meet Singapore’s Representative

Elaine Tan

Deputy Director (Research), Centre for Liveable Cities Limited

Elaine Tan is currently on a secondment stint as Deputy Director (Research) to the Centre for Liveable Cities, a company limited by guarantee of the Ministry of National Development, Singapore.

This secondment draws on Elaine’s experience serving as Director of Strategic Research at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Elaine spearheaded URA’s R&D efforts and directed key research programmes through Singapore’s Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge, under the auspices of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council.

Elaine was also formerly URA’s Director of Architecture and Urban Design Excellence, working closely with the industry to advance the state of architecture and urban design in Singapore through new initiatives and programs.

At the Centre for Liveable Cities, Elaine continues to spearhead new research frontiers in the areas of building resilience, climate change, aging, and health and well-being. Elaine believes in supporting young people to shape the future, and is an invited Mentor of the Urban Land Institute Singapore Mentorship Programme.

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