SINGAPORE - Evidence is growing that climate change causes extreme weather and can affect food supplies. And rapid urbanisation can affect the liveability of countries.
This is why Hong Kong and six nations - Brunei, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore - yesterday pledged to expand cooperation and share experience on these issues, among others.
Ministers and senior officials, who gathered at the World Cities Summit for the 10th Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia-Pacific Region, added in their joint declaration that more "smart city" technologies could be used to run cities better, and improve the lives of residents.
Citing the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and last year's deadly Typhoon Haiyan, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan told the forum that the effects of climate change "have manifested themselves more than ever".
Countries must ensure infrastructure is resilient to withstand more disasters, he said at the event held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Speaking about the challenges of Asia's urbanisation, he said: "How do we enjoy the developmental upside, with minimal downside? Not an easy trade-off to manage... Fortunately, with sensitive planning and skilful execution, it is possible to optimise."
Smart technologies employing powerful data analytics and simulation models could provide some of the solutions to urban issues, added Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.
For example, he told the forum, systems that automatically alert agencies when power infrastructure is faulty can save both time and cost.
Having broadband networks across Singapore and citizens using smartphone apps also improves lives, he said.
He cited the free "My Bus Mate" app, which aims to give parents peace of mind by telling them exactly when their child's school bus is arriving at their home or the school.
Meanwhile, at the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum also held yesterday, Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan reiterated that these smart technologies "have the potential to transform urban living".
On the sidelines of the Mayors Forum, the Centre for Liveable Cities launched a 274-page publication, available on its website, that summarised the key players and principles of Singapore's development journey.
It was presented to mayors and city leaders as a resource for them to tap.
This article was first published on June 2, 2014.
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