How will low-lying Singapore’s built environment survive rising seas?

(Eco Business, 30 Sep 2019) Singapore’s response to climate change is more adaptation than prevention. So how will the vulnerable city-state protect its most valuable assets—its buildings—from rising sea levels?

If the world does not dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s flagship tourist attraction, will become “Gardens beneath the Bay.”

So said Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, at a sustainability event in Singapore four months ago.

Rising sea levels is a problem that the heavily urbanised city-state is taking very seriously. In August, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that S$100 billion (US$72 billion) could be spent on climate change adaptation, including ways to prevent the island from disappearing beneath the waves.

One-third of Singapore, including the central business district, is less than 5 metres above sea level—not as low as the Netherlands, one third of which lies below sea level, but low enough to worry the city-state’s famously foresighted urban planners.

Singapore’s plans to defend against rising seas include building sea walls, polders, and new islands made from reclaimed land. New buildings are to be built four metres above mean sea level, and critical infrastructure at least another metre higher. 

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Eco Business, 30 Sep 2019: How will low-lying Singapore’s built environment survive rising seas?