Singapore to build artificial islands

FILE PHOTO: A view of the skyline in Singapore, January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Caroline Chia/File Photo

Singapore is contemplating the construction of artificial islands along its eastern coastline as a measure to safeguard low-lying areas from the escalating threat of rising sea levels due to climate change.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced on Thursday that engineering and environmental impact assessments for the proposed “Long Island” project are scheduled to commence in 2024 and are expected to span five years. The reclaimed land for the project could cover 800 hectares, providing the densely populated city-state with additional space for housing, parks, and industrial development.

In 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the significant risk that rising sea levels pose to Singapore, estimating that coastal defences could cost approximately Sg$100 billion ($75 billion) or more over the next century. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore’s land-use planning agency, has sought public input on the project, which may take several decades to materialize. The URA suggests constructing artificial islands at an elevated level compared to the mainland to establish a “line of defence” against rising sea levels.

Alternative proposals, such as building a three-metre sea wall along the entire waterfront, supported by tidal gates and pumping stations, have been considered by government agencies. However, the URA expressed concerns about the disruptive impact of the wall’s construction and the substantial space requirements of pumping stations.

Researchers emphasized the need for comprehensive studies on “Long Island,” including an assessment of its impact on coastal currents and the sea bed and studies of potential impacts on both the built and natural environment. Despite these challenges, Singapore has extensive experience in large-scale land reclamation, such as Changi Airport, the Marina Bay financial district, and the Tuas Port.


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