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Remarks by SMS Tan Kiat How at the World Cities Summit 2022 Young Leaders Symposium

Remarks by Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, at the World Cities Summit Young Leaders Symposium on 31 July 2022

31 July 2022


Young Leaders from Singapore and around the world, a warm welcome to the Symposium!


1.      It has been a while since we all come together. I am glad that this year’s Young Leaders Symposium can be held in person. The theme for this year’s World Cities Summit is “Emerging Stronger: Liveable & Sustainable Cities”. Earlier, some of you shared some good and insightful perspectives to a few key topics surrounding this theme.

2.     This theme provides an opportunity for us to consider the challenges that cities are facing. Many of the cities share similar challenges. It is important for us to discuss – as a community and leaders – how we can emerge stronger to achieve greater liveability and sustainability, wherever we come from.

Emerging Stronger from the Pandemic

3.      Singapore has emerged stronger from the COVID-19 disruption, but we are not fully out of the woods yet. Like many cities around the world, we must remain adaptable, given the urgent need to pivot towards more sustainable trajectories, and be ready to meet the threats of future pandemics, economic or geo-political stressors.

4.      That said, we must remember that the future is not all doom and gloom. Today, I would like to focus on the opportunities and future of possibilities. I am encouraged to see this sense of possibility, and drive to seize potential opportunities, embodied in our Young Leaders present today:

5.      For example, Ms Melissa Low, a Research Fellow at the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, is an active contributor to environmental sustainability and raising climate change awareness among the youth. Her research into nature-based solutions helps support climate change mitigation and adaptation, while unlocking the potential of forest and blue carbon investments.

6.      We also have Mr Linh Le, Global Lead for Smart City Competency Program at Amazon Web Services (AWS), here today. Mr Le has worked on various urban infrastructure projects in cities across Asia and Africa. At AWS, Mr Le has built a programme that helps city governments identify best-in-class partners to accelerate their smart city journeys.

7.      It is this spirit of innovation and dedication among all of you that gives us optimism that cities can emerge stronger, more liveable and sustainable.

A Future of Possibilities

8.      Singapore is land-scarce and we have to embody long-term planning in our DNA. We have always strived to be far-sighted, to cater to the diverse needs of those who reside here, while being responsible to future generations.

9.      The COVID-19 experience has also reinforced the importance of remaining adaptable: our plans must be “live”, and our planning process must be flexible and agile. The Long-Term Planning Review (LTPR), conducted over the past year, discusses ways for the city to be adaptive across four different themes: the Future of Work, Mobility, Living, and the Environment. We do this long-term plan review once every 10 years and every exercise, we look 50 years ahead – that is almost two generations.

Future of Works

10.      In considering the Future of Work, we have to be adaptable and conscious of trends like work-from-home, which may or may not persist. To this end, we intend to introduce commercial sites with shorter-term leases, which will provide businesses with more flexibility and help us adapt to fast-changing economic trends. We will also focus on decentralisation and continue to inject workspaces in poly-centres, so that jobs will be closer to homes.

Future of Mobility

11.      For the Future of Mobility, our city must be inclusive and accessible all. This means planning for a Singapore that is more people-centric and car-lite. It also means preparing the necessary infrastructure, regulations and digital systems, so that we can scale up future technologies such as drones and Autonomous Vehicles in the longer-term, when they are ready.

Future of Living

12.      On the Future of Living, like much of the rest of the world, Singaporeans are living longer. Longevity presents opportunities for us to have richer life experiences. But this is only possible if our healthspan matches up to our lifespan as much as possible. To support the Future of Living, we need to develop “longevity-ready neighbourhoods” across the city.

13.      Last year, we announced the Health District @ Queenstown project. This is a whole-of-community initiative to pilot a suite of solutions – programmes, infrastructure, digital solutions and so on – that can enhance the health and well-being of residents across life stages. Successful innovations can be applied across other towns and neighbourhoods in Singapore. This is the first time that we are doing this at a large scale and town level, bringing together the different capabilities. This is co-led by the Housing Development Board (HDB), the National University Health System (NUHS) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Future of the Environment

14.      As we think about future-proofing the city, climate change is another top-of-mind challenge. In 2021, the Singapore government launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, with comprehensive plans covering areas from energy efficiency to electrification of our transport infrastructure to incorporating environmental sustainability into school curriculum.


15.      Bringing together these considerations – the Future of Work, Mobility, Living, and the Environment – creates many exciting opportunities for cities. Yes, the future is full of uncertainties. We must continue to manage the risk arising from uncertainties and at the same time, remain flexible and agile and be bold in seizing opportunities. Importantly, we have to be resilient, able to take shocks and bounce back stronger as we have done so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

16.      Thank you again for joining us at today’s Symposium, I look forward to the conversation that we will have later.