SINGAPORE - Singaporeans can look forward to 130ha of new parks over the next six years, as part of a wider effort to make Singapore's urban environment more green and sustainable.
Besides new parks, there will also be more focus on creating energy-efficient buildings. Sustainability-related research and development (R&D) efforts will also be ramped up, as part of a long-term strategy to build a more liveable city, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Thursday (March 4), during a debate on the Government's sustainability plans.
"Given our tight land constraints, we must find innovative ways to weave nature into our urban fabric more intensely. And even as we face developmental pressures, we must strive to protect our most ecologically important areas," he said.
To intensify the greenery in the urban areas, around 1,000ha of green spaces will be added across the island over the next 10 to 15 years, as set out in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) master plan 2019, said Mr Lee in response to Ms Nadia Samdin (Ang Mo Kio GRC) who had asked for an update on these efforts.
This includes 130ha of new parks and the redevelopment of another 170ha of existing parks over the next six years. These parks will feature more lush vegetation and natural landscapes.
By end-2026, there will be over 300ha of such parks - almost four times the size of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Singapore will also set aside 50 per cent more land for nature parks, providing some 200ha of new nature parks by 2030, said Mr Lee.
The park connector network will also be expanded in tandem with new recreational routes across the island, to form 500km by 2030.
By 2030, every household will be within a 10-minute walk from a park.
Strengthening Singapore's ecological connectivity remains a priority, Mr Lee said in response to points raised by Ms Nadia and Nominated MP Koh Lian Pin.
He noted that the Ministry of National Development is developing a more comprehensive picture of the island's ecosystem and connectivity of green and blue spaces. "(This is) so that we can better consider how specific sites connect to our nature cores, buffers and corridors."
Mr Lee also spoke about the Kranji woodland that was erroneously cleared without approval, reiterating that the fauna baseline study is under way and the result will be made public when ready, along with the strengthening of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) framework.
"Given Singapore's land constraints, we will not be able to keep every of our vacant vegetated lands undeveloped. As a city-state, we must cater for everything that a country needs within just our city limits," he said.
However, he noted that the Government adopts a range of strategies to make good use of existing land, and will continue to engage stakeholders, including the public and nature community, on long-term land use planning.
Mr Lee also unveiled the fourth edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan, with three key targets to be fulfilled by 2030.
First, 80 per cent of all buildings by gross floor area (GFA) will be greened - up from the current 43 per cent.
Second, 80 per cent of all new developments by GFA will be classified as super low energy buildings. These buildings will achieve at least 60 per cent improvement in energy efficiency compared to 2005 levels.
Third, best-in-class green buildings will see an 80 per cent improvement in energy efficiency compared to 2005 levels.
Housing Board towns are also on track to become greener under the HDB Green Towns Programme. The 10-year plan to cool HDB towns, reducing energy consumption and recycling rainwater was announced in last year's Budget debate.
More than 5,700 HDB blocks are on track to be installed with solar panels in the next two to three years, said Mr Lee. Urban farming tenders at nine HDB multi-storey car parks have also been awarded, with more in the works.
Eco-friendly mixed-used districts, such as the upcoming Jurong Lake District, will function as demonstration projects and also serve as a testing ground for innovative urban solutions.
To this end, R&D is a vital part of Singapore's long-term strategy for urban sustainability, noted Mr Lee.
The Cities of Tomorrow R&D Programme, a multi-agency effort launched in 2017 to identify challenges that cities face and develop solutions to address the challenges, will extend its efforts for another five years.
For instance, the HDB and the National University of Singapore are exploring urban designs that harness solar heat to help create natural drafts to cool the environment to minimise the use of air-conditioning in homes.
Said Mr Lee: "Sustainability is a marathon which we cannot run alone. We must be in it for the long haul, to be responsible stewards not just for our children, but their children after them."