World Cities Summit

Cities can tap nature for solutions as they seek to develop without harming the environment

Nature-based solutions involve using nature to counter challenges faced by society, such as climate change. PHOTO: REUTERS
The World Cities Summit at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Aug 2, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - In China, Hainan province built interlocking fingers of land that channel sea tides into the island's 10ha mangrove park.

These fingers help to reduce the impact of strong storm currents on Sanya Mangrove Park's mangroves, in an area that had previously been damaged by years of tourism development.

The park was one of two projects using nature-based solutions cited by Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah on Tuesday (Aug 2) at the World Cities Summit, where she said meeting the development needs of cities and their citizens need not come at a cost to the environment.

Nature-based solutions involve using nature to counter challenges faced by society, such as climate change.

Citing Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park and Sanya Mangrove Park, Ms Indranee said that nature-based solutions, which cities have increasingly adopted, are one way to meet development and environmental needs.

To help cities plan for such projects, Singapore's Centre for Liveable Cities and National Parks Board on Tuesday launched a book that compiles best practices shared by experts and stakeholders involved in implementing nature-based solutions.

Speaking at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Ms Indranee was one of a host of speakers who addressed the resilience of cities and their ability to deal with climate change.

The Netherlands' Rotterdam city Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was among several who highlighted the pressing reality of climate change, with its impacts clearly felt globally.

Mitigation strategies are for the short term, he said, and will not be effective in the long term.

"We have to adapt to a new situation," said Mr Aboutaleb, adding that his city, which was previously battling rains, is now threatened by droughts.

But even in crises, there are opportunities, said the mayor, who cited seven urban greening projects that the city has pursued in recent years.

For instance, the city's planned Hofbogen Park will be built on a former railway viaduct. Besides serving as a corridor for people and nature, the park also helps with water management - its plants naturally filter rainwater, which is stored in underground aquifers and can be tapped during dry spells.

Mr Aboutaleb added that these infrastructural projects will also benefit the city's economy, as attractive cities draw investments and increase the value of homes.

Ms Indranee Rajah addressing World Cities Summit delegates at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Aug 2, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Ms Indranee also said cities should collaborate more to help one another address constraints in meeting net-zero emission goals. An example of this, she said, is the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project, which has allowed Singapore to tap hydropower instead of relying solely on solar power as a renewable energy source.

Besides international collaboration, panellists on Tuesday also said community involvement is essential in building resilience and fighting climate change.

New Zealand's Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said: "The wisdom of the community, when combined with the knowledge of the experts, always exceeds what one can offer without the other."

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