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Integrated Urban Coastal Management (IUCM)

Singapore is an island city state that is heavily dependent on its coastal and marine environment (CME), as well as its strategic location along a major sea lane. The island is a major transhipment hub for commercial shipping and is also one of the world’s busiest ports.

Its limited coastal and marine areas are densely populated and heavily used by various industries including shipping, transport, petroleum and petrochemical manufacturing as well as non-industrial activities such as residential development and recreation. These demands place Singapore’s CME under constant pressure. To achieve sustainable development, this fragile environment needs to be carefully planned and managed in a holistic and integrated manner.

Integrated Coastal Management Framework

Recognising the importance of better managing the diverse uses of our limited coastal areas and conserving our fragile marine biodiversity, Singapore adopted the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) framework developed and advocated by the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA). The ICM uses the capacity of local governments to work across economic sectors through sound planning and better management of human activities. The process of implementing the framework was kick-started with an inter-agency workshop on ICM in 2009. The workshop introduced the government agencies to the concepts and principles of ICM. It also drew on the expertise of the agencies to strategise ICM implementation in Singapore. An ICM Strategy and Implementation Plan, which was a technical document charting out the course for the framework in the immediate and medium-term future, was subsequently drafted with inputs from multiple government agencies.

Integrated Urban Coastal Management Framework

Since then, Singapore has actively worked with PEMSEA to further develop ICM into a proactive planning and management framework for sustainable development of the marine and coastal areas in an urban context. Better known as Integrated Urban Coastal Management (IUCM), this new framework recognises and encourages close and active partnerships amongst stakeholders to create greater synergies to optimise the use of coastal resources and conserve sensitive coastal habitats amidst urban coastal development. It facilitates Singapore’s coastal management by enhancing coordination of governmental stakeholders and coherence in governance, policies and processes and capitalises on governing structures such as administrative processes, legislation and institutions to allocate and coordinate the use of resources. This approach enhances flexibility and the ability to cope with constant changes in the CME. Singapore’s IUCM is a dynamic and reiterative process because it is based on establishing continuous baselines and feedback loops to address the inherent complexity of CME issues in an urban environment.

PEMSEA Regional IUCM Demonstration Site and Learning Centre

On 18 November 2013, Singapore and PEMSEA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish Singapore as a PEMSEA Regional IUCM Demonstration Site and Learning Centre. The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maritime and Port Authority, the National Environmental Agency, and the National Parks Board. By signing the MOU, Singapore is recognised internationally as a positive example in balancing coastal development, marine environment protection and biodiversity conservation. Experience and best practices in Singapore’s IUCM implementation will be showcased and disseminated within the Seas of East Asia region and beyond.

Singapore’s biodiversity can be found in very close proximity to urban and industrial areas (Photo by Kevin Lam)

Fig 1: The signatories and witnesses to the MOU between Singapore and PEMSEA

(Left to right: Mr Renato C. Cardinal (PEMSEA), Mr Stephen Adrian Ross (ED PEMSEA), Dr Leong Chee Chiew (DCEO NParks), Mr Koh Kim Hock (DG/EPD NEA), Dr Lena Chan (D NParks))

Singapore’s Integrated Urban Coastal Management, a publication by the Technical Committee on Coastal and Marine Environment, available for download here.

Last updated on 26 February 2021

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