A Fine City in a Garden-Environmental Law and Governance in Singapore

50 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2008

See all articles by Lin Heng Lye

Lin Heng Lye

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 31, 2008


This paper examines the system of environmental management and governance in the tiny but prosperous city-state of Singapore. Commencing from the early years of self government, environmental management policies were integrated with economic policies, in order to woo investors. Singapore pursued a policy of rapid industrialisation while cleaning up and greening its environment, moving from a "Garden City" to a "City in a Garden". Through the years, it has put in place an effective legal and administrative system to deal with the implementation and enforcement of laws relating to land-use planning, pollution, public health, and nature conservation. But are there inadequacies? To what extent has Singapore succeeded in taking care of its environment? This paper focuses on Singapore's environmental management with particular emphasis on pollution control, water conservation and the conservation of nature. It examines the work of the National Environment Agency, the Public Utilities Board and the National Parks Board. It discusses the laws and their implementation in the context of pollution control, as well as in the conservation of wild flora and fauna. It highlights the inadequacies in the laws, particularly the lack of laws for the separation of wastes, and for the conservation of marine biological diversity and ecological systems. It emphasizes the need for enhanced land stewardship, for greater public participation and for laws that provide for mandatory environmental impact assessments. "We have built. We have progressed. But there is no hallmark of our success more distinctive and more meaningful than achieving the position as the cleanest and greenest city in South-east Asia." - Mr. Lee KuanYew, Prime Minister of Singapore, at the launching ceremony of the "Keep Singapore Clean" Campaign, 1 October 1968.

Suggested Citation

Lye, Lin Heng, A Fine City in a Garden-Environmental Law and Governance in Singapore (July 31, 2008). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, pp. 68-117, July 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1268682

Lin Heng Lye (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776

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