22 August 2017

Singapore not worried about climate change

Despite increasing rainfall and higher sea levels predicted in Singapore in the coming decades, one in four business sustainability practitioners in the city-state believe there is a lack of public concern about the impact of climate change and extreme weather events – the highest level of disinterest when compared to other countries across Southeast Asia.

This is according to a study released by global pump provider Grundfos and sustainability-focused social enterprise Eco-Business Research titled Flood Controls in Southeast Asia. The study surveyed 417 sustainability industry leaders across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Even with its efforts in urban flood management, Singapore still remains vulnerable, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating that by 2070, the country could lose up to US$21 billion in combined assets due to severe weather events like flooding.

The study also revealed that nearly 70% of respondents across Southeast Asia predicted that their home country will continue to face extreme weather events over the next decade, taking a significant toll on local economies and infrastructure. The majority of respondents believe average temperatures have become higher and monsoon seasons have become more unpredictable.

Tim Hill, Research Director for Eco-Business Research, said, “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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, industry leaders were most likely to agree amongst regional respondents that their government has better control of flood management, through good planning and adequate levels of funding. Thanks to its continued efforts in urban flood management, Singapore has reduced its flood-prone areas by 99% since the 1970s.

The study also calls for a regional approach to flood management, urging governments to communicate their best practice initiatives and establish frameworks for prevention and protection. A majority (59%) of Singapore respondents agree that their country has been working well with neighbours in producing solutions for climate change.

Chee Meng Tan, Regional Business & Product Portfolio – Water Utility, Asia Pacific Region, Grundfos, said, “The white paper 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.

“As more cities in the region becomes increasingly urbanised, Singapore becomes an even more relevant example (as it can show) 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.”

Tan added that some of these best practice solutions could involve natural methods, such as replanting of mangroves or the application of smart technologies such as sensors, rain animation charts, and intelligent pumping solutions.

Key findings from Singapore respondents include:

·       A third (35%) of respondents did not agree that the country was prone to flooding.

·       A quarter disagreed with the statement “Many other people in my country are concerned by the impact of extreme weather events and climate change”.

·       Four in 10 (42%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Urban planning in my country adequately factors in the impact of extreme weather events and climate conditions”.

·       Six in 10 (59%) agree that the country works well with neighbours to produce solutions for climate change.

The study, Flood Controls in Southeast Asia, also examines the historical evolution of flooding in the region and shows a correlation between economic growth and attitudes to water.

Download the white paper at https://www.dropbox.com/s/aldr4cslpdxxlzv/Grundfos%20White%20Paper_Flood%20Controls%20in%20Southeast%20Asia_FINAL.PDF?dl=0 (PDF)