Singapore is an anomaly. It is a city state – the city is the country and the country is the city. Everything that we need for a country has to be accommodated within our island, a unique situation which no other city in the world has to deal with. Thanks to the good foresight of our predecessors, after some six decades, a whole generation has now grown up in a green garden city, with easy access to clean water, good facilities and decent housing. We have come to expect such a quality environment as a natural order of things.
However, cities have to contend with growing complexity and disruptions from changes in demographics, climate change, the economy, new technology, and people’s aspirations and expectations. These issues will similarly have an impact on Singapore. How, then, do we continue to secure a better urban future for Singapore?
The 5th IPS-Nathan lecture series is themed, Seeking A Better Urban Future. Dr Cheong will examine how cities deal with their urban challenges to create a better urban life for their citizens. In particular, she will discuss the considerations needed to plan and develop Singapore in the face of rapid change and uncertainty.
Lecture I: What Makes A City Successful? Lessons from Inspiring Cities
There is no lack of plans drawn up by cities – but only some implement them successfully. The opening lecture sets the stage by taking a global view to draw insights from some inspiring cities and to uncover their secrets of success. As a founding member of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, Dr Cheong will distil the key traits and best practices from the Prize’s laureate cities which have led to their dramatic transformation, providing useful learning lessons for other cities, including Singapore.
Dr Cheong Koon Hean is the 5th S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore.
She is the CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), overseeing the development and management of some one million public housing flats in 26 towns and estates. Since joining the HDB in 2010, she has introduced a new generation of public housing and large-scale sustainability initiatives for the development of HDB towns, as well as initiated the Smart HDB Town framework.
Dr Cheong was the CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority from 2004 to 2010, in charge of strategic land use planning, conservation of built heritage and the real estate market. She played a key role in the planning and development of major growth areas, such as Marina Bay as well as the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City. She is also a nominating committee member of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.
Dr Cheong is currently on the Boards of the HDB and the National University of Singapore, and is the Deputy President and Council member of the International Federation for Housing and Planning. She was formerly a Board member of URA, JTC, Jurong Port, NHB and the Civil Service College. She was appointed an honorary fellow of the Singapore Institute of Architects and the Institute of Planners; and as the Tan Swan Beng Endowed Professor in Nanyang Technological University. Active internationally, she served on various expert panels, including the World Economic Forum’s Real Estate and Urbanisation Global Agenda Council and was a former Global Trustee of the Urban Land Institute.
Amongst others, she was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding public service, the University Gold Medal and Honorary Doctorate in Architecture, the 2010 Convocation Medal for professional excellence (University of Newcastle) as well as the IWF’s 2011 Woman Who Make A Difference Award (Washington DC). In 2016, she became the first Asian to be conferred the JC Nichols Prize for Urban Visionaries by the Urban Land Institute (Washington DC) and the Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (Chicago).