YOUth Should Know: Singapore’s 3 commitments to the UN Water Action Agenda

The 2023 UN Water Conference saw governments and stakeholders making voluntary commitments to internationally-agreed water-related goals.

Han Xinyi

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Published: 28 March 2023, 4:40 PM

At the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu announced Singapore’s voluntary commitments under the UN’s Water Action Agenda

The Water Action Agenda is a collection of voluntary commitments made by nations during the UN 2023 Water Conference, where countries address global water challenges and pledge actions to be taken that are related to the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) of clean water and sanitation.

Singapore has already achieved SDG 6 across the country through its establishment of consistent water quality checks, wastewater treatment and providing its population with access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Despite this, Ms Fu said that Singapore will still pledge under the agenda to “ensure a concerted effort in tackling the myriad of water challenges”.

Here are three things youths should know about Singapore’s voluntary commitments to the Water Action Agenda:

1. Renewable energy will be used to improve water treatment processes in Singapore

Singapore currently has four national taps: water from local catchment, imported water, NEWater, and desalinated water. Of the four, water from local catchment and imported water are chemically treated, filtered and disinfected to ensure quality water for people’s consumption and daily use.

According to Ms Fu, efforts will be made to reduce the carbon footprint behind Singapore’s water system and its treatment processes using renewable energy.

Solar energy has also been utilised to make Singapore’s water supply consistently clean and sustainable.

This was done with the opening of one of the world’s largest floating solar farms in the Strait of Johor in 2021, which can generate enough power to meet the energy demands of the country’s water treatment plants.


The floating solar farm was set up in 2021 by sustainable energy provider Sunseap Group. PHOTO CREDIT: SUNSEAP GROUP


On top of making use of renewable energy sources, research will be conducted to develop and improve the technology behind water treatment plants and the energy efficiency in Singapore’s water sector. 

This includes exploring membrane bioreactor technology that could help used water treatment plants become more energy self-sufficient.

2. Water conservation efforts will be enhanced with technology

As a small nation that lacks natural resources for water and is “most water-stressed”, Singapore relies on a diversified water supply and needs to conserve it to meet Singaporeans’ water demands in the long-term. 

Although Singaporeans have access to clean water straight from their taps, this sometimes leads to wasteful habits as some may use more water than necessary.

Singapore currently encourages water conservation through community outreach efforts and water saving initiatives, as well as pricing water at a range to reflect its scarcity and overconsumption.

Technology has also been used “as an enabler” to increase efficiency in conserving water. Advanced sensors are implemented into transmission networks to detect and address water leaks early, and has contributed towards water distribution losses being among the world’s lowest at around 8 per cent.

Tools like smart water metres will soon be set up in public housing to aid in managing households’ water consumption, setting water conservation targets and detecting leaks.

3. A Coastal Protection and Flood Management Research Programme will be established

As Singapore is surrounded by sea, it is vulnerable to sea level rise and needs coastal protection to avoid its coastal areas and essential transport networks from being flooded, should climate change take a turn for the worse.

Past measures like manmade breakwaters and flood mitigation have been implemented to tackle this issue before, but more needs to be done to strengthen coastal protection efforts as sea levels continue to rise. 

In future, a Coastal Protection and Flood Management Research Programme (CFRP) will be established to innovatively protect Singapore from rising sea levels, while also facilitating a collaborative research ecosystem with local and international partners.


Among Singapore’s coastal areas that could risk flooding if sea levels rise include East Coast Park and Changi Beach Park. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN


Such partnerships should be committed towards tackling global water challenges to share expertise and experiences in coastal protection experiences and water management.

“The water crisis is as global as it is local, and global water action remains critical to ensure a concerted effort in tackling the myriad of water challenges that we face,” Ms Fu said.

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