Opening Address by Minister Lawrence Wong at the China-Singapore International Green Building Conference in Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City
Sep 28, 2018
Singapore and other cities face common challenges in urban development and climate change
It is very good to see such a strong turnout at today’s conference. It reflects the commitment from China, Singapore and the Tianjin government for the Eco-city project. This is a project that has brought people from both sides working together for the last 10 years, and I am very happy to see many people who have been involved in this project here today. The turnout at this conference also reflects the keen interest that all of us have in addressing the challenges of rapid urbanisation and climate change. All countries are grappling with this. Many cities and their population will face the risks of rising sea levels and extreme weather changes. Both China and Singapore will be affected.
Singapore started on the path of sustainable development very early, because of our circumstances. We are just one very small island – one-third the size of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, and we cannot afford to spoil this little island which is also our home. That is why we carefully planned our city to meet our economic and social needs while also providing for a green and liveable environment. China, too, has made environment protection and sustainable development a national priority.
Hence, 10 years ago, when our two countries were exploring a second Government-to-Government project, we decided on the theme of sustainable urban development. The idea of this eco-city in Tianjin was born – to have and develop a green and integrated township development in harmony with the environment, the economy, and the people.
Singapore and China’s vision for the Eco-city to be a model of sustainable development
Both China and Singapore brought together our best practices to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. To achieve a full 100% green buildings in the Eco-city, we came up with a green building evaluation standard, or GBES for short. This standard is a hybrid between Singapore’s Green Mark system and China’s Three Star rating system. This new standard is adapted to northern China’s climate, provides greater flexibility to developers and designers, and encourages passive design features to lower the cost of green buildings.
China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Tianjin Municipal Government have recognised GBES for its rigour and quality. Hence, buildings in the Eco-city awarded this standard would be automatically recognised as meeting China’s national green building standard. I am also very happy to hear that GBES has been extended to the neighbouring districts.
Indeed, our goals from the start of this project is not just to build one city in Tianjin, but to develop a model of sustainable development – a model that can be replicated in other cities in China and even in other countries, for example in cities along the Belt and Road. We hope that Tianjin and the Tianjin Eco-city can be a global leader, to push the frontiers of sustainable development through new green innovations and technologies.
Replication of the Tianjin Eco-city experiences
Naturally, replication will cover more than just green buildings. The Tianjin Eco-city experiences cover many other aspects. They include how the wastewater pond and saline land were rehabilitated, the deployment of the smart grid and renewable power; as well as good urban design.
This is why, later today, we will be launching a book documenting the experiences of the Tianjin Eco-city over the last 10 years. Just last week, my Ministry – the Ministry of National Development, and China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly promote the replication of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city’s experience. I had very fruitful discussions with Vice Minister Huang Yan of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, and the Tianjin Binhai New Area’s Party Secretary Zhang Yuzhuo in Singapore, and on how we can go about this work. We have some ideas to begin this task of replicating the Eco-city’s experience.
We will first need to consolidate the lessons we have learnt from the Eco-city, and study what experiences can be replicated and where they can be replicated. We will have to look at different places, and one possibility is to start in the Tianjin Binhai New Area where the Tianjin Eco-city itself is located.
The conference today marks our efforts to achieve this vision of replication – all of you are here and you can take the learnings from the Eco-city to adapt and bring it back to developments you yourself are involved in. I encourage all of you to take the opportunity to also visit the Eco-city and find out more about the various developments here. I wish all of you a very fruitful conference, and many more successful years to come for the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.
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