Cities | Possibilities: Building circular cities

Cities | Possibilities: Building circular cities

Cities | Possibilities is an annual premiere sustainable cities event organised by Eco-Business that convenes high-level decision makers from the building, finance, and infrastructure sectors, policymakers, academics and civil society to discuss the latest developments in advancing Sustainable Development Goal 11 – creating sustainable cities and communities.​

In 2019, the second edition of the event – themed ‘Building Circular Cities’ – will feature an exclusive closed-door dialogue where 80 specially selected key stakeholders will participate in a series of in-depth roundtable discussions to highlight the key challenges and opportunities in unlocking circularity for cities.​

Held on 28 August, it will provide an effective platform for business, government and NGOs to collaborate on advancing sustainable cities and circular systems within cities. ​

Cities consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70 per cent of global carbon emissions. ​

As the global community races against time to rapidly decarbonise our economies to tackle climate change, cities must take the lead in shifting away from the current linear ‘take-make-waste’ model of economic growth to a circular one. Robust studies in recent years have proved the linear model of development is highly wasteful, detrimental to the environment and communities, threatens business profitability, and prevents us from living within our planetary boundaries.  

The circular economy, in contrast, eliminates waste and pollution by design, keeps products and materials in eternal use, and regenerates our natural ecosystems so that we can sustainably provide essential services for the global population. This transformation, however, will require a re-think of key systems that are at the very core of cities — the networks, infrastructures and environments that provide transport, communications, water, food and energy to its citizens and businesses.  

How do we design these interconnected systems such that they flow synergistically from one to the other in a circular fashion? This 28 August, leading thinkers and practitioners in building sustainable cities will meet to answer this key question.



2.00pm: Registration

2.30pm: Welcome address

Jessica Cheam, Founder and Managing Editor, Eco-Business; Adjunct Research Associate, Centre for Liveable Cities

2.45pm: Keynote address: Turning the circular vision into reality

Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities

Cities are places of hope and opportunity that will be home to two in three people in the world by 2050. As hubs of finance, culture and innovation, cities must take the lead in shifting away from the current take-make-waste model to a circular one.  Singapore, which aspires to be a Smart Nation and has designated 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, is well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities that a circular economy presents. How will it approach this new paradigm? 

3.00pm: Opening plenary: Unlocking circular economy opportunities in cities

Margriet Vonno, Netherlands Ambassador to Singapore and Brunei

Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities

Richard Paine, Managing Director, Paya Lebar Quarter

Maarten Schäffner, Sustainability Manager, Witteveen+Bos 

Moderater: Jessica Cheam, Founder and Managing Editor, Eco-Business; Adjunct Research Associate, Centre for Liveable Cities

3.45pm: Roundtable discussions

Five groups discuss challenges, ideas and opportunities in Buildings, Energy, Water, Waste and Food. Five facilitators will then return to the final plenary to share and exchange ideas.​

RT 1: Buildings  

More homes, commercial and industrial facilities need to be built amid resource constraints, rising temperatures and sea levels. Can Singapore do it without extracting more virgin resources? What are the most forward-thinking developers and building owners doing to implement circular economy principles in the building sector?

What role can policymakers and the finance industry play in circular infrastructure development?

Jacqueline Y Lam, Deputy Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Oceania, C40 Cities Climate Leadership UK

RT 2: Energy 

What does circularity in the energy sector mean for Singapore, which relies on natural gas for 95 per cent of its electricity needs? How can industry become more energy efficient? To what extent can Singapore’s energy be supplied by solar and other renewables? Where are the biggest business opportunities?

Sanjay Kuttan, Executive Director, Singapore Maritime Institute

RT 3: Water 

Singapore prides itself on the ability to close its water loop, even as the world lurches towards a water crisis. What are the opportunities that companies here can exploit in the region? How can industry become more water efficient? What are the technologies will drive greater efficiency in desalination?  What is the next frontier?

Dr Gao Xin, Head of Innovation Hub, Grundfos Asia

RT 4: Waste 

Waste represents a huge untapped resource in Singapore and in many Asian countries, which have started pushing back against being a dumping ground for developed nations’ trash. What is the economic potential of tapping into these waste streams? What can Singapore do about the fact that more than 80 per cent of its plastic, textile and e-waste end up in the incinerator and landfill? What are the policies required to enable circular resource management?

Sumangali Krishnan, Chief Business Officer, GA Circular

RT 5: Food 

Singapore wasted 763,100 tonnes of food in 2018, recycling only 17 per cent of it. How can food waste be reduced at each step of the supply chain? Cities must shore up their food security amid changing weather patterns and supply disruptions. What are the circular opportunities that Singapore’s fledgling high-tech farming sector can exploit? 

Anne Lochoff, Sr. Advisor (Partnerships), UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development

4.45pm: Plenary: Can we achieve the next breakthrough in circularity? 

  • Sharing of findings from the roundtable discussions by the five facilitating speakers
  • Some countries like the Netherlands have outlined their circular economy vision in a published manifesto. Can Singapore follow suit? 
  • Should Singapore set priority areas to focus on? Where do the opportunities lie?  

Interactive question and answer session with delegates

5.45pm: Closing remarks and reflections followed by networking cocktails


Our Partners:
Knowledge partners:
C40 Cities Climate Leadership UK, Centre for Liveable Cities, United Nations Development Programme

Real estate partner: Paya Lebar Quarter developed by lendlease

Supporting partner: Witteveen+Bos


Sponsor/exhibitor contact

Christina Muniandy
[javascript protected email address]

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