The joint opening ceremony on Monday of three sustainability events - the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore - provided an opportunity for delegates to take stock of global problems in these fields. They are acute particularly in the developing world, which carries the historical burden of uneven development while having to keep pace with global changes unleashed in the developed world. However, it is also in the nature of globalisation that it weakens the protective barriers of knowledge and power which insulate developed countries from less developed nations. Yet globalisation also provides the best opportunities for rich and poor to act together.
Technology can be the great equaliser here. Technological solutions to problems of climate change and rapid urbanisation, for example, can be applied across the world, keeping in mind their cost and relevance to local topography. A new plant in Tuas, which will utilise waste to expand Singapore's water supply and extend the lifespan of its only landfill on offshore Semakau Island, is an instance of an innovative solution to water scarcity in an island city-state. Given that contending claims to the commodity could spark water wars between and even within nations in the developing world, the spectacular use of technology to increase water generation is an idea that could be applied elsewhere.
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