As a small low-lying island-state, we need to take the impact of climate change very seriously, and invest in resilient infrastructure to safeguard ourselves, our future.

Protecting our coasts from sea level rise

As an island-state and a major port city, Singapore is defined by our coasts. To protect these areas, we have strengthened our defences against coastal erosion and flooding. Today, over 70% of Singapore’s coastline is protected with hard structures such as seawalls and rock slopes.

Composite stepped seawall at East Coast Park

We are also making plans for coastal defences to better protect our coastal areas, starting with the more critical segments, in particular, City-East Coast and also Jurong Island.

PUB has planned to build a second pump house on the opposite end of the Marina Barrage to pump water out of Marina Reservoir into the sea. When rain falls in the city area, the water can then drain into Marina Reservoir.

Photo Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information

For the eastern coastline, some of the options we are considering include the building of polders (which is land reclaimed from the sea) or reclaiming a series of islands offshore, from Marina East all the way to Changi.

These are major investments that we intend to make, to safeguard our future as the effects of sea level rise are felt in the coming decades.

Safeguarding Key Infrastructure

Since 2011, we have raised minimum reclamation levels for newly reclaimed lands to at least four metres above the mean sea level, up from three metres previously. Roads near coastal areas, including a stretch of Changi Coast Road and Nicoll Drive, have also been raised to protect them from rising sea levels.

We have also raised the minimum platform levels for new developments and are building critical future developments such as the Changi Airport Terminal 5 and Tuas Terminal mega port at higher platform levels – at least five metres above mean sea level.

Singapore Changi Airport Traffic Controller Tower With Plane TakeoffClimate change could also affect our underground MRT stations as they will be susceptible to flooding during intense rainfalls. To protect our commuters and rail infrastructure, we have built MRT stations with elevated entrances or installed flood barriers.

91_Ministry of Communications and Information
When you enter an MRT station, you need to climb up a few steps before you go down the escalator. This is flood protection for our MRT system. Photo Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information

Enhancing flood resilience

Since 2011, Singapore has spent $1.8 billion on drainage improvement works to boost our flood resilience. This includes the Stamford Diversion Canal and Stamford Detention Tank completed last year, which significantly enhance the flood protection of the Orchard Road areas. In the next two years, another $400 million will go towards upgrading and maintaining our drains.

The Stamford Detention Tank can hold up to 38,000m3 or 15 Olympic sized swimming pools of stormwater. Photo Credit: PUB, Singapore’s national water agency

Strengthening our resource resilience and security

We have invested in research and development, water infrastructures, and diversified Singapore’s water supply to include weather-resilient sources such as NEWater and desalinated water.

Tuaspring Desalination Plant

To make our food supply more resilient, we are pursuing three strategies, also known as our three “food baskets”:

  1. Diversify import sources;
  2. Grow local; and
  3. Grow overseas.

By 2030, we plan to meet 30% of our nutritional needs with food produced in Singapore.

Photo Credit: Singapore Food Agency

Investing in research to guide adaptation planning

The Centre for Climate Research Singapore will launch a S$10 million National Sea Level Research Programme over the next five years to develop more robust projections of sea level rise. A new Climate Science Research Programme Office will also be set up to formulate, lead and drive efforts to build up climate science capabilities in Singapore.


Protecting Biodiversity and Greenery

Our trees are an essential part of Singapore’s landscape. But some trees are especially tall and certain species are fragile. This makes them likely to fall or be uprooted in strong gales or periods of heavy rain.

Walking and Cycle pathway in Singapore

To ensure that our trees are in good health and resilient to climate change, the National Parks Board (NParks) inspects trees along major roads and areas with high human activity at least once a year. If needed, trees are pruned to reduce the size and weight of their crowns so they can better withstand strong winds. Storm-vulnerable trees have also been replaced with hardier species. NParks also studies tree uprooting to better diagnose its causes.

To protect Singapore’s marine biodiversity, NParks established Singapore’s first marine park at the Sisters’ Islands in 2014. The marine park is an ecosystem inhabited by rare and endangered marine animals. Other measures to protect Singapore’s biodiversity include restoring mangrove areas in Singapore.

Mangrovenwald in Sabang auf den Philippinen

Protecting Public Health

Climate change also poses threats to our health. For example, changes in the weather pattern, such as temperature increase, could create prime conditions for mosquitoes to breed and viruses to replicate faster, leading to an increase in the infective vector population and transmission of dengue. We have already seen similar trends in late 2015, when there was a spike in dengue cases partly due to weather changes caused by the El Niño.

Currently, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has in place a nation-wide programme to fight dengue – but we will need to do more as we prepare for harsher conditions in the future. While innovative solutions such as Wolbachia technology could help to suppress the mosquito population, sustained efforts by the community to eradicate mosquito breeding habitats remain key to preventing dengue.

Yellow Fever, Malaria or Zika Virus Infected Mosquito Insect Bite on Green Background

Enhancing our Built Environment

It is essential for the buildings we live and work in to be protected from the effects of climate change. Analyses so far have indicated that the structural integrity of buildings in Singapore will not be affected by the projected changes in temperature, rainfall, and wind speeds as long as the buildings adhere to building codes and are properly maintained. As many buildings in Singapore are constructed and maintained by private developers and owners, the private sector plays an indispensable role in helping us keep our buildings safe. BCA and the Housing & Development Board (HDB) are conducting additional studies to further understand the potential effects of higher temperatures, rainfall, and wind speeds on buildings and building attachments, to recommend adaptation measures to enhance the resilience of our buildings.

The Green Mark Scheme is the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) green building rating system, tailored for the tropics and sub-tropics. It evaluates and sets benchmarks for environmental sustainability in buildings. To enhance current efforts to green existing buildings, BCA and Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) have collaborated to develop the Zero Capital Partnership scheme, which provides a “zero capital” solution for building owners to carry out energy efficiency retrofits for buildings. These efforts will contribute to Singapore’s aim of making 80% of all buildings green by 2030.

Modern financial building with blue sky and cloud. Business district city background. Construction industry background.
Modern financial building with blue sky and cloud. Business district city background. Construction industry background.

Leave a Reply