SINGAPORE - The city skyline turned into a sea of blue to mark World Water Day, as Singapore showed its commitment to water sustainability over the weekend.
From Saturday (March 20) till Monday, a record 44 landmarks and buildings, including the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer, are lit up in blue in the evenings as part of the national water agency PUB's City Turns Blue initiative, which started in 2014.
Among them are 10 spots that are taking part in the initiative for the first time. These include the Singapore Sports Hub, Mount Faber, One Marina Boulevard, Wisma Atria and the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant.
Last year, 39 local landmarks were bathed in blue as part of the light-up.
World Water Day is held annually on March 22, a day designated by the United Nations as a reminder that water is a critical resource that should be cherished and protected.
Ahead of the annual event, the UN called for urgent efforts to address the global water crisis.
Around 1.6 billion people - almost a quarter of the world's population - have problems accessing a clean and safe water supply.
UN General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir has called this a global "moral failure".
For Singapore, the event is particularly significant this time, as the Republic rolled out its inter-ministerial Green Plan, said observers.
The plan, unveiled last month, cuts across all sectors of society and introduces several new sustainability initiatives that will change the way people here work, study and play by 2030.
Experts said the Green Plan stresses the importance of thinking ahead for future generations, including ensuring that the country's water resources are safe for use and can be sustained for the long-term.
Said Professor Rajasekhar Bala, from the National University of Singapore's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering: "The global climate is changing and will continue to change, affecting the water cycle and related issues such as energy production, food security, and human health."
"We must manage our valuable water resource systems to satisfy the changing demands placed on them," said Professor Benjamin Horton, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
"Increasing demands are being placed on finite water resources to supply drinking water, water for other societal needs, including energy, agriculture and industry, and the water necessary to support healthy aquatic ecosystems," he added. "Having adequate water of sufficient quality underpins Singapore health, economy, security and ecology."
This year, PUB's water campaign theme is on climate change. Its key areas of focus include enhancing flood resilience, safeguarding water sustainability, reducing carbon footprint and strengthening coastal defences to protect homes.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post on Sunday, urged residents to do their part to conserve water.
"We are doing all we can to maximise every drop of water, but we all have to do our part to #MakeEveryDropCount," he added.
In Singapore, World Water Day is celebrated throughout March with initiatives that raise awareness of water conservation.
More than 400 partners have come on board this year. Some 50 retailers are offering blue-themed discounts and promotions, and more than 70 schools have joined a programme to hold water-themed activities every Wednesday this month to inculcate good water saving habits in students.
Landmarks participating in City Turns Blue initiative in Singapore for the first time:
1. Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant
2. Mount Faber
3. One Marina Boulevard
4. Orchard Gateway
5. Read Bridge
6. Sentosa Golf Club
7. Science Centre Singapore
8. Shopee Building
9. Singapore Sports Hub
10. Wisma Atria