5 ideas every city should steal from Singapore

CNN  — 

Singapore is small, hot and heavily populated – the 5.5 million residents of the tropical city-state live in less than 750 square kilometres of land. And population is expected to reach 6.9 million by 2030.

Despite these challenges, Singapore continues to be amongst the most liveable and economically successful cities in the word, with a GDP equaling that of leading European countries.

With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities already (a figure projected to reach 70% by 2050), Singapore – where everyone is a city dweller – is setting trends for rapidly urbanizing countries worldwide.

But how have they done it?

1) Have a plan

Singapore's developments have strict sustainability principles

Concept plans have been in place since 1971, with long-term visions and predictions for the design of Singapore’s infrastructure. Such long-term planning was crucial as the population was growing much faster than originally anticipated.

“The top priorities for Singapore as a newly independent state were to provide housing for its people and to create jobs,” says Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director of the Centre for Liveable Cities, Singapore.

With limited land and no natural resources, there was always a focus on greenery, the environment and intensive development of utilities and infrastructure including power plants, deep-underground sewerage and refuse incineration. “Planning for clean air, clean water and green cover was integral to Singapore’s city planning,” says Khoo.

Decentralization of commercial hubs was also key in the country’s urban design to reduce congestion and commuting time – improving liveability.

“High density does not necessarily mean low liveability,” says Khoo.

2) Don’t waste your waste