SINGAPORE - Many know Singapore as a Garden City, a term Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew used when he launched the Garden City plan in 1967.
But the country's green journey began more than a century before that.
Visitors to the Singapore Botanic Gardens now have the opportunity to learn about Singapore's long green heritage, beginning with the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles here in 1819, at the Singapore's Greening Journey: 200 Years and Beyond exhibition located at the City Developments (CDL) Green Gallery.
The exhibition was launched on Friday (June 21) by CDL and the National Parks Board (NParks) in conjunction with Singapore's Bicentennial commemorations and the Botanic Gardens' 160th anniversary, and will run until Nov 10 this year.
Visitors can explore the exhibition, which is divided into three zones, through a mixture of panels and interactive displays.
The first zone, From Forested Island to Urban Jungle, describes Singapore's green history between 1819 and 1964. Here, visitors can sniff and guess the names of various spices that were originally planted at the botanical and experimental garden at Fort Canning Park in the early 19th century.
The second zone, Garden City to Biophilic City in a Garden, showcases Singapore's transformation from 1965 to 2019. Visitors to this section can use an interactive map to discover parks and green spaces around the island.
The final zone, Biophilic Garden City of Tomorrow, features Singapore's efforts to deepen its roots in sustainability and resilience while developing for the future. Visitors are invited to share their dreams for a greener Singapore through an interactive display in this section.
Several foreign dignitaries attended the exhibition's opening, including Denmark's ambassador to Singapore, Ms Dorte Bech Vizard.
Ms Vizard told The Straits Times that when it comes to the environment, there is a need for citizens to be involved and feel the need for change.
She noted that Singapore had a "fantastic reputation" for being a city in a garden, and said: "The exhibition is a brilliant example of how you can get people involved in the discussion, thinking about what kind of green future they want for Singapore."
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong opened the exhibition with a speech that highlighted Singapore's transformation from the forested island it used to be into the garden city it is today.
He also touched on the uniqueness of Singapore's current situation.
"In other cities around the world, more urbanisation inevitably means less greenery. But that's a trade-off we cannot afford in Singapore," he said, adding that the Republic needs to develop while retaining its green spaces.
Stating that Singapore wants "green, sustainable urbanisation", he said: "This is not a matter of planting trees in an ad hoc (fashion), but doing so systematically, in a very deliberate manner, to enhance nature habitats in our urban setting."
Mr Wong said that while the government is already doing this in many of its projects, private developers such as CDL play an important role in green and sustainable development.
CDL group general manager Chia Ngiang Hong noted that buildings account for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
He said: "We hope that many (guests) will visit this exhibition, not only to learn more about Singapore's greening journey but also to better appreciate our heritage, which lays the foundation for a more sustainable future."
The exhibition will be open from 9am to 6pm daily, except on the last Tuesday of each month, when it is closed.