little boy in cable car looking at an an urban settingImagining a greener urban society is no longer an exercise in futility, at least not for highly developed and advanced economies like Singapore. Despite having limited natural resources and facing numerous challenges, the country has managed to be at the leading edge of sustainable development. And compact cities across the globe turn to this small but powerful nation for solutions.

Towards a Low-Carbon Society

Compact cities and the industries that sustain them expel the biggest amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But in advanced economies, a low-carbon society is possible and economically viable. The key is to reinvent the way cities function.

Investing in energy-efficient buildings and urban vegetation is the new way of reinvigorating suburbs and cities. Not only does it increase a city’s chances of hitting emission targets, it also promotes a good living environment for its citizens.

Residential developments like the Paya Lebar high-rise residences are already incorporating these strategies and inspiring a greener urban lifestyle. Its new park connector links to breathtaking green spaces in the east and farther, giving residents an abundance of options for outdoor activities.

Adopting the Liveability Framework

Adopting the liveability framework in a small island nation of 5.6 million people is just as challenging as it is promising. The compact built environment of Singapore places immense pressure on its already sparse natural environment.

It is crucial then that developed cities find a balance between economic competitiveness and smarter resource use, between improving quality of life and preventing further environmental degradation. The good news is that the government is focusing on these liveability components to its urban planning strategies.

Promoting Social Transformation

The success of these efforts begins with awareness. Awareness of the challenges that lie ahead and what can be done to overcome them. Fostering citizen engagement in sustainable city projects can help drive social transformation. Through smart city solutions, the private and public sectors can engage more effectively with the community. Embraced in a larger scale, it can transform the way people live.

These are just some of the many steps compact cities must employ to prepare for the environmental challenges of tomorrow. Low-lying coastal and densely populated communities such as Singapore must work towards increasing resiliency and ensuring a safe future for its citizens.

Now that the country has fully embraced sustainable development, after five years of strategy-building, it is likely that the rest of Asia will follow suit.