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Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for National Development, at World Cities Summit 2024 Closing Plenary “Future Cities: From Vision To Reality: Developing Future Cities” On 4 June 2024

1.      Good afternoon everyone. It is such a great pleasure to see all of you here again and I hope that you have been having a great conference. It is my privilege to be able to be here at the closing plenary of the World Cities Summit. This year, we hosted about 3,500 participants from close to 100 cities. There have been rich discussions on challenges facing our cities, and of course, also discussions on the strategies to achieve sustainable urban development.

2.      Today, we will explore the vital role of partnerships and collaborative ecosystems in addressing urban challenges. This is a key component of the updated Singapore Liveability Framework which was launched at the opening plenary yesterday.

3.      Let me touch on three areas of partnership – partnership with people, partnership with businesses, and partnership across borders.

Partnering our People

4.      First, partnering our people.

5.      People are at the heart of our cities. Fostering meaningful community participation in urban planning is therefore key to shaping liveable cities. In fact, for those of you who were at the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize award ceremony yesterday, you would have observed that Mexico City’s efforts on the social side, for the benefit of its people, was an important factor that contributed to their win. A more engaged citizenry also lays the groundwork for better policy outcomes and stewardship of resources, as we incorporate the views of citizens, and co-create solutions.

6.      This was seen in how the Melbourne government engaged the community on revitalisation plans for the historic Queen Victoria Market Precinct. They incorporated feedback on the need for green spaces, open community areas and respect for the area’s heritage.

7.      Here in Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, or the URA, embarked on a year-long public engagement exercise for our Long-Term Plan Review, where more than 15,000 people from all walks of life, shared their hopes and ideas for the future of Singapore. Based on the feedback given, our city planners then developed long-term strategies to guide Singapore’s development over the next 50 years. This is a review that is taken once every ten years. So every ten years, we plan for the next 50 years.

8.      URA has now commenced the Draft Master Plan 2025 review to translate these long-term strategies into detailed plans for implementation over the next 10 to 15 years. We will continue to co-create these plans with Singaporeans. Various strategies are being employed to harness ideas, including exhibitions in shopping malls, focus group discussions, and even a student art competition.

9.      Complementing the Draft Master Plan is the development of the Recreation Master Plan, which will activate a network of recreational spaces and opportunities island-wide, to enhance the quality of life for Singaporeans. More than 37,000 Singaporeans have been engaged on their ideas for such spaces thus far.

10.      Such conversations help us to better understand the diverse needs and aspirations of Singaporeans, and strengthen the partnership between Government and citizens in building our city together.

Partnering Businesses

11.      Second, we partner businesses, which are pivotal to urban development. Private sector investments drive economic growth, create jobs and contribute to a vibrant ecosystem.

12.      In Singapore, URA partners the private sector to rejuvenate our city centre and key strategic areas. Incentives are offered to developers, such as more buildable area, to facilitate the redevelopment of older office buildings into mixed-use developments and encourage the transformation of the surrounding environment. This will introduce a good mix of amenities, making our city an attractive destination to live, work and play.

13.      Public-private sector partnerships are also critical to the delivery of large-scale and complex infrastructure projects. This has been critical in driving the energy transition, where policy direction is key to catalysing private sector investment and innovation.

    1. In Europe, municipalities partner with energy companies to roll out large-scale solar and wind power installations, lowering emissions and stabilising energy costs.

    2. In Singapore, the Public Utilities Board partnered Sembcorp, a leading renewables company, and launched Singapore’s largest inland floating solar photovoltaic system at Teng eh Reservoir. This will reduce our carbon emission by 30 kilotonnes of CO2 per year and allow more of Singapore’s water system to be powered by renewable energy.

International Partnerships

14.      Beyond local collaborations, we must also partner across borders.

15.      In this vein, I had announced the formation of the World Cities Summit Knowledge Council in 2022. This brought together eminent thought leaders who shared innovative solutions to shape urban planning. The Council was pivotal in guiding discussions at the 2022 and 2023 Science of Cities Symposium, and emphasised the importance of a systems-level, science-based approach for urban planning. The Council also shaped the World Cities Summit strategic agenda. This ensures that the Summit remains a relevant platform that gathers global leaders and experts to address city challenges, share solutions and forge partnerships.

16.      I am pleased to announce that we will be convening a new 2-year term with new members in the Council and I look forward to their contributions.


17.      So, in conclusion, let me say, city planning is a whole-of-society effort, and no single entity can achieve this vision alone. As we establish partnerships, we must do so with mutual respect and humility to listen. This will build the trust needed for strong circles of collaboration, as we seek to transform our cities together.

18.      Thank you very much and I hope that you will have a fruitful discussion this afternoon.