Global platform for sustainable cities launched in Singapore

A view of Singapore's skyline on March 2, 2016.
A view of Singapore's skyline on March 2, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore is taking centre stage in fostering a global exchange of knowledge on sustainable urban planning and development.

The inaugural meeting of the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) kicked off yesterday at the Sheraton Towers Hotel.

The project is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) - a global institution that finances environmental projects - and led by the World Bank.

The World Bank runs an Infrastructure and Urban Development Hub here. It manages the platform programme. A total of 23 cities in 11 countries are involved in the platform's pilot stage, with US$150 million (S$207 million) set aside by GEF to fund urban projects proposed by participants.

Another aim is to build a network of cities and organisations sharing expertise on sustainable urban development, said Mr Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, World Bank's senior director for social, urban, rural and resilience global practice. "Linking knowledge to finance is critical to directing investment flows to quality and sustainability," he said at GPSC's launch.

He added that Singapore's success in urban planning will provide a model for emerging cities.

The launch was part of the Singapore Urban Week, supported by local agencies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Public Utilities Board.

GPSC's pilot includes seven cities in China getting $36 million under the GEF grant to explore how to integrate urban development with transit lines.

World Bank Singapore Urban Hub head Abhas Jha said sustainabiity must become part of the focus of funding infrastructure. "Anyone can build roads and bridges. But increasingly, cities are looking for more solutions to complex issues, projects that also integrate the urban, social and environmental aspects to improve liveability... While the funding gap is always there for infrastructure development, the knowledge for that integration is also crucial. That's why this new platform matters."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Global platform for sustainable cities launched in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe