Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources of the Republic of Singapore

06/20/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/20/2024 23:02

Coastal and Flood Resilience Leaders Summit

Opening Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Coastal and Flood Resilience Leaders Summit on 20 June 2024

Good morning. I am very happy to join you today for the inaugural Coastal and Flood Resilience Leaders Summit, held in conjunction with the Singapore International Water Week 2024.

2 Water is an integral part of the planetary ecosystem. It supports lives and nurtures the food chains that feed humanity. Mismanagement of our water ecosystem contributes to climate change such as over-drawing of water, lowering of water table, which has resulted in higher risk of forest fires. And in return, climate change unleashes extraordinary power through typhoons that destroy properties and lives. While mitigation will always be a priority in climate action, we have to deal with the impacts of climate change now. Adaptation to a warmer planet, with greater unpredictability of the weather system, and changing rainfall patterns is a present-day priority. Policy makers have to consider a wide range of water-related issues in an integrated way - by incorporating decisions such as water security and allocation of water; water safety and protection of water sources; flood mitigation and coastal protection.

3 It is thus timely that we now include climate adaptation as one of the key pillars of the Singapore International Water Week. By pooling together the expertise and experiences of global stakeholders, this long-standing platform provides an ideal opportunity for all of us to jointly develop best practices that will strengthen our cities and communities against climate change threats.

Singapore's Experience in Climate Adaptation

4 Singapore is susceptible to the effects of sea level rise. Around 30 per cent of our island is less than 5 metres above mean sea level and potentially affected by the combined impact of rising sea levels, storm surges and high tides. Enhancing coastal and flood resilience is a complex endeavour that requires new capabilities and skillsets and coordinated planning and implementation.

5 In 2020, we appointed PUB as our national coastal protection agency to address both coastal and inland flood risks holistically. PUB is tasked to develop a set of comprehensive strategies to enhance Singapore's flood resilience against both sea level rise and extreme rain events. An example of how flood resilience and coastal protection are considered in an integrated and holistic manner is the Marina Barrage. This flood control infrastructure involves the use of crest gates and pumps to regulate the water levels of the Marina Bay in times of heavy rain to reduce the risk of flooding, while serving its water supply function. It has also become an icon of the city landscape, and a popular destination for recreational activities. Another exciting project ahead of us is the Long Island proposal. This is a proposed solution for coastal and flood protection for a stretch of over 10km of coastline, with twelve outlet drains discharging stormwater from inland for flood resilience, while concurrently incorporating coastal protection function. At the same time, it has the potential of creating more land to meet future development needs with new recreational opportunities for the East Coast.

6 While we are in our early stage of building coastal protection, we have done a few things.

First, since 2021, we have demarcated our entire coastline into eight parts and begun site-specific studies progressively. These studies seek to develop and explore the feasibility of various coastal protection measures, taking into account site characteristics, opportunities, and constraints. The Long Island project was one such outcome.

Second, we are going through legislative changes to clarify and delineate the roles and responsibilities for coastal protection. As the site-specific studies progress, we will need this clarity to implement the required coastal protection measures across our coastline as multiple land owners and stakeholders are involved.

Third, we are building our knowledge in understanding and addressing flood risks. We have launched the Coastal Protection and Flood Management Research Programme in March last year with a funding support of S$125 million, or about USD$90 million. Under this programme, we will house our Centre of Excellence, named the Coastal Protection and Flood Resilience Institute (CFI) Singapore. For the first tranche of research projects, the Centre has initiated nine projects in areas such as innovative engineering, hybrid solutions, and understanding of local coastal processes. CFI Singapore and its partners are training more than eighty undergraduate and graduate students as well as working professionals to provide a strong pipeline of talent in the field of coastal protection. To learn more about the nine projects, I encourage you to visit CFI Singapore's booth at the Level 1 Expo.

Here, I am pleased to announce that CFI Singapore will be starting on eight more research projects, ranging from understanding coastal science processes to improved modelling methods. For example, a new project by Nanyang Technological University aims to design barriers made from jute, a composite of plant fibre and calcium waste. These barriers could function as submerged beach berms to reduce wave energy and promote soil accumulation, thus serving as a potential eco-friendly measure to enhance coastal resilience.

I am also pleased to share that PUB has launched an applied research grant call in May. The grant call considers five topics: sustainable materials, smart structural health monitoring, decision making for adaptive planning, innovative solutions, and sensors for sediment transport.

Fourth, we are building capacity and capability in our industry, engineering services in particular, to deliver future coastal protection measures. One such effort is a new Code of Practice for Coastal Protection, which will establish common standards for design, operation, and maintenance, to guide the industry in implementing effective measures.

To enable closer partnership between the public and private sectors, I am pleased to announce that the Singapore Water Association will be launching a new Coastal Protection Chapter. With this new Chapter, we aim to establish a three-way intermediary between the industry, institutes of higher learning, and government agencies. The Singapore Water Association will be signing a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CFI Singapore and the Forum for Climate Change Adaptation, FCCA. The FCCA is a ground-up initiative to bring professionals, practitioners, and researchers together to share, collaborate, and co-create solutions for climate change adaptation. With the MOU, we envision closer collaboration amongst stakeholders through knowledge sharing sessions, post-graduate courses, as well as innovation and translation efforts.

Call for International Collaboration

7 As we seek to address our common challenge of coastal and flood risks, there is clearly potential for cross-border partnerships and knowledge exchange. Demand for innovative and cost-effective solutions and expertise will grow, and along with it, the opportunities and prospects for business.

8 Singapore is committed to international climate action, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Seventh Assessment Report, AR7. Singapore will be supporting the IPCC Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, which is co-chaired by Professor Winston Chow. We will be hosting the Technical Support Unit at the Singapore Management University, which will further global understanding of the importance of adaptation.

9 Singapore is also keen to contribute to the understanding of changing climate in South East Asia. The Centre for Climate Research Singapore has released updated climate projections (V3 for version 3) in January. Singapore is sharing the V3 data with the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre and through platforms such as the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment for the Southeast Asia Region or CORDEX-SEA.


10 In conclusion, we would like to invite cities and countries across the world, to partner with Singapore in your journeys to address the pressing need for climate adaptation.

11 Leveraging a global forum like SIWW, the Coastal and Flood Resilience Cities Roundtable provided a platform for city officials and regulators to exchange experiences and insights on climate adaptation. Today's summit will further foster meaningful conversations and create impact. We hope that SIWW and its events will continue to serve as catalysts for these collaborative efforts to take shape and bear fruit in the coming years.