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Asia Leads Investments in Watershed Projects

When it comes to investment in protecting natural areas that provide drinking water and supplies, Asia dominates the market worldwide, according to a major new report that reveals all countries invested more than $8 billion dollars in 2011 to enhance water security globally.

Conducted by US non-government organization Forest Trends, the “State of Watershed Payments of 2012” study reveals that $7.46 billion were invested in 83 watershed projects in Asia alone.

This approach, known as investments in watershed services, or IWS, considers the natural landscape along with the social and economic conditions. These factors often impact the health of the natural environment.

The projects go by other names as well, including payments for watershed services, reciprocal agreements for water, water funds, eco-compensation, benefit-sharing arrangements, source water protection, green infrastructure investments, etc.

In just four decades, Singapore has overcome water shortages despite its lack of natural water resources and pollution in its rivers.

Driven by a vision of what it takes to be sustainable in water, Singapore has been investing in research and technology. Investment in research encourages young scientists to return to Singapore. It recently hosted the inaugural Global Young Scientists Summit, which brought together many bright young people of the international scientific community. Several young researchers came back to Singapore to further their research, even though they hold qualifications from prestigious universities overseas.

Today, the nation has built a robust, diversified and sustainable water supply from four different sources known as the Four National Taps (water from local catchment areas, imported water, reclaimed water known as NEWater and desalinated water).

By integrating the system and maximising the efficiency of each of the four taps, Singapore has ensured a stable, sustainable water supply that is weather resilient, capable of catering to the country’s continued growth.

One of these Taps is the high-grade reclaimed water known as NEWater, a success story made possible by state-of-the-art membrane technologies. Such new technologies are a potential goldmine. The Singapore government has identified water as a new growth sector and will invest about S$330 million in water R&D in the next five years.

Besides its strategic role, water is a beautiful landscape and improves Singaporeans’ quality of life. By involving people as stakeholders of the country’s water resources, we are moving closer to realizing the vision of Singapore as a City of Gardens and Water.