COULD Singapore spark the green revolution in China, a country recently named in a University of California report as the world’s “biggest polluter”?
This possibility is being raised as the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City — the first collaboration of its kind between Singapore and Beijing since the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in 1994 — takes off.
Using the lessons from the Housing and Development Board’s 48 years of experience, the planners have opted for a practical approach in the quest to convert the wetlands and rivers of the site — 150 km from Beijing — into a city that is the model of sustainable development.
The best ideas of both countries will go into developing the 30-sq-km site into a living space for 350,000 residents in 10 to 15 years’ time, with schools, housing areas, commercial and industrial services.
“We don’t want it to be a laboratory experiment because ‘cutting edge’ suggests that it cannot be replicated elsewhere,” said Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan as he unveiled the key features of the draft master plan on Tuesday.
Indeed, the experiment will in turn provide lessons for Singapore. “We are learning from each other but will take the higher of the two standards and try to implement it here,” said Mr Mah.
The plan is spearheaded by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, and a Singapore planning team led by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Development will be headed by a joint venture between a Singapore group led by Keppel Corporation and Chinese companies.
When completed circa 2023, each block in the eco-city will conform to green building standards to ensure efficient energy use. Renewable energy sources such as solar power will be available, while an efficient public transport network of light rail trains and buses will be in place, alongside extensive cycling and footpaths to discourage motorised transportation.
Like the SIP project, the Tianjin Eco-City is expected to deepen bilateral ties and “provide new platforms for leaders, officials and business people to engage each other”, said Mr Mah.
The Tianjin Municipal Government will release the master plan for public consultation next week. Work has commenced on the 3-sq-km start-up area to be completed in three to five years’ time.