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2nd Annual Singapore Sustainability Symposium

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With the continued commitment of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to sustainability and urban solutions that are transdisciplinary, transboundary, and fully integrated, NTU's Sustainable Earth Office (SEO) and Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), in collaboration with a number of Singapore’s Agencies, are organising the second S3 in Singapore on 15-17 April 2015. (View the Programme)

The symposium will have a Singaporean flavour, with a special interest in the challenges faced by cities and urbanisation. The title of this year's symposium is Sustainable City Design, and S3 will again serve as early input to the World Cities Summit (held next summer 2015 in New York). This year's symposium will begin with a public lecture and discussion panel including the presentation by a Minister of key objectives from Singapore's new sustainability plan.

The first S3 was held 8-10 January 2014, with the title Prosperity within Global Limits: How to Create Dynamic and Prosperous Societies within Planetary Boundaries. The attached "10 Points" document (Click Here) summarises key conclusions from last year's symposium presented at the Mayor's Forum (over 140 international Mayors) from the 2014 World Cities Summit in Singapore.

In order to create an interactive and generative dialogue, S3 will operate over it's two and a half days by focusing on discussion, driven by a main table and supported by delegates from the surrounding tables. Specifically, each session will have an active Chair to preside over 2-3 main table short presentations from several different disciplinary perspectives on the main conference themes. These presentations at the main table will begin a moderated discussion process that includes all delegates and focuses on several key questions posed by each theme.

Click here to download the programme sypnosis of the event.

Key Takeaways of the event

Cities, Adaptation, and Action Now!

  1. Cities will play an increasingly important role in addressing adaptation challenges, because they will feel many of the impacts most severely and because they're often in the best position to implement high-impact solutions.
  2. It's important to avoid the cynicism often associated with discussions about environmental impact challenges, such as climate change. Cities are often refreshingly insulated from this negativity, and should strive to keep this positive frame to focus on opportunities and more inclusive development.
  3. Cities need champions and leaders to drive sustainability agendas and solutions forward. These champions should move beyond the foundation of immediate cost and logistics planning to describe a vision of what future and liveable cities could become.
  4. Alongside envisioning and community engagement, legal frameworks and a robust regulatory system are crucial to ensure continued and consistent progress, as well as to protect public interest projects from being hijacked or aborted.
  5. Research, science, and R&D will continue to provide concrete and relevant information to support decision-making and action in cities.

Technology and Innovation

  1. It's never a question of needing better governance or more technology, because the two go together and we need much more of both; society changes, technology responds, and technology is constantly changing society.
  2. We speak of technology in a broad sense, including engineering, infrastructure, and new product design, but also including innovation, entrepreneurship, new management systems, and the development of new markets.
  3. Technology's best potential is with sustainability projects that are applied, visible, demonstrable, and acceptable to stakeholders as being culturally appropriate.
  4. There's a need for scale and speed in the support and development of new technologies.
  5. Education is key for promoting technology and innovation, in changing hearts and minds, in training entrepreneurs and engineers, and in helping future leaders understand the connected roles of technology, governance, and financial markets.

Urban Footprint and Regional Security

  1. Urban sustainability should increasingly be seen as an issue of resilience and security in a regional and global context, considering environmental impacts of increased per capita consumption of natural resources and the dependence of cities on regional and global supply and value chains.
  2. The implementation of sustainability solutions, innovative approaches, and new technologies in cities should be more inclusive, equitable, and culturally appropriate in order to ensure acceptability by different social groups.
  3. Innovative planning, land use, and design of the built environment should continue to substantially contribute to sustainable urbanization including reducing the urban footprint in rural areas.
  4. While human behavior and human nature often make it difficult to decrease ecological footprints, human culture can and does change over time, between generations, because of new technologies, and through education. These ongoing cultural, social, and ethical changes present opportunities that current generations of city leaders and planners should strive to incorporate and understand in the creation of future cities.

Financing Sustainable Cities

  1. Providing the financial resources cities need to implement sustainability solutions is as much about the dependability of urban financing and cities having the ability to raise sufficient resources themselves, as it is about the amounts of these resources.
  2. Many innovative and successful approaches have been developed to provide financing for social and sustainability projects, and this process needs to continue in order to tap into larger and traditional capital markets.
  3. Making sustainability programs and projects more understandable and transparent to traditional capital markets would be helpful, by concentrating on applied, demonstrable projects that have passed proof of concept stages and have wide public and stakeholder support.

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