Singapore: Study finds a concerning lack of interest regarding climate change and relevant consequences

Industry leaders launching the latest regional whitepaper titled Flood Controls in Southeast Asia. From left to right: Mr Ole Boisselier-Malmgren, Head of Trade at the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore; Mr Tim Hill, Research Director of Eco-Business Research; Mr Okay Barutçu, Group Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director, Grundfos Asia Pacific Region; Mr Tan Chee Meng, Regional Business Director of Water Utility, Grundfos; Professor Jeffrey Obbard, world-renowned environmental scientist; Mr Ridzuan Ismail, Director of Catchment and Waterways at PUB; and Mr Tan Seng Chuan, Regional Managing Director (Asia Pacific), Ramboll Environ

Although rainfall and sea levels are predicted to rise in Singapore over the coming decades, 25 per cent of business sustainability practitioners in the nation believe that there is a general lack of public concern about the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events – a concerning figure as compared to other countries in Southeast Asia (SEA), the percentage is the highest, as according to the whitepaper launched by Grundfos, a global pump leader, and Eco-Business Research, a sustainability-focused social enterprise titled Flood Controls in Southeast Asia, which also looks at the historical evolution of flooding in the region and reveals a correlation between economic growth and attitudes to water.

And in the study, some 417 sustainability industry leaders across Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam were surveyed.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, despite numerous innovative solutions and strong efforts in urban flood management, Singapore is still vulnerable, and may lose up to US$21 billion in combined assets due to severe weather events such as flooding by 2070.

The study also found that almost 70 per cent of respondents across SEA forecasted that their home nation would continue to face extreme weather events over the coming ten years, which would take a significant toll on local economies and infrastructure. The majority of respondents also believed that the average temperature has risen and the annual monsoon seasons have become more unreliable.

From left to right: Panel discussion moderated by Mr Tim Hill, featuring Mr Tan Chee Meng, Mr Ridzuan Ismail, Mr Tan Seng Chuan, and Professor Jeffrey Obbard

“Singapore has shown some of the region’s best practices in terms of urban flood management, and it is because of the effectiveness of these practices that Singapore respondents seemed the least concerned about the impact of climate change,” Mr Tim Hill, Research Director of Eco-Business Research, said. “However, this is also worrying, as it suggests that the issue is not an important one for all levels of society, especially when you consider that the country remains at risk due to its low-lying landscape and dense population.”

Simultaneously, industry leaders were most likely to agree that their government has better control of flood management, through good planning and adequate levels of funding. For instance, through diligent efforts in urban flood management, Singapore has managed to bring down its flood-prone areas down by a whopping 99 per cent since the 1970s.

The study also calls for a regional approach to flood management, and urges governments to share their knowledge as well as nest practice initiatives in order to establish frameworks for flood prevention and protection. Additionally, 59 per cent of Singapore respondents agreed that the nation has been working well with neighbours to develop solutions for climate change.

“The whitepaper revealed there was not enough regional dialogue about best practices in flood management. With Singapore leading the way in water technologies, the city-state plays an important role in sharing its holistic and sustainable approach to urban flood management, and understanding what we can do to help safeguard Southeast Asia from the challenges of global warming,” Mr Tan Chee Meng, Regional Business and Product Portfolio – Water Utility, Asia Pacific Region, Grundfos, said. “As more cities in the region becomes increasingly urbanised, Singapore becomes an even more relevant example about how it has addressed flooding while facing the challenge of land scarcity, where measures such as widening and deepening drains and canals are not feasible.”

According to Mr Tan, some best practices solutions could even involve natural methods, such as the replanting of mangroves, or the application of smart technologies such as sensors, rain animation charts, as well as intelligent pumping solutions.