Singapore Debate Quotes
Mr. Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman Shell Singapore:
"The way in which our urban environments develop is not only a concern for town planners. The anticipated growth of mega-cities in this region and in the world is a global challenge facing us all."
"How do we drive urban environmentalism? I very much believe that one of the key foundations is in education. This I consider a major priority."
"I believe that being educated, and aware of the need to practice environmentalism is not enough. Governments need to provide the initial impetus to get the ball rolling in the right direction through legislation or incentive plans."
"I think that to make urban environmentalism a successful journey we need to open ourselves more to learning from others, especially for example the Japanese and European nations."
"The central issue that we came to the conclusion 20 years ago that needs to be dealt with is the creation of jobs."
"For us sustainable livelihoods is the key to sustainable development."
"I believe very firmly that both the causes and the potential solutions to the problems of poverty in the Third World lie within the Third World. If we are poor it is because we didn't get our act together. And if we continue to be poor it is because we didn't get around to designing the right solutions."
"Roughly half the people of Asia will within our lifetimes - within the lifetimes of the people in this room - be living in cities, and more than half of those will be living in slums. Now that's not a very pretty picture."
"If we are going to deal with these problems and re-orient the trajectory by which our societies are going to improve then we have to understand why do people come to the city, and figure out ways in which to provide those elements that drive them to the city either where they were originally, or else when they arrive in the city."
"In the Third World we don't tend to think systemically, we don't think long term. We're not able, basically, to forget the mess that we are in to be able to try and avoid the bigger mess that we're heading for."
"In the case of cities my answer is very simple - the more you spend on existing cities the more the migration into those cities will be. You are essentially making them more attractive and the environmentalists have a name for it - the rebound effect: the more you make a city attractive the more it is going to become unattractive because it is going to have more and more pressure."
"I believe the solutions are quite simple, but they are inconvenient because they don't have the kind of political payoffs or intellectual rewards that re-acting to immediate emergencies have."
"It is possible to think of a way of life that basically gives us satisfaction, possibly of a much higher kind than we have today, with much less use of materials."
"We are going to have to change our technologies, we are going to have to change some of our value systems, and it seems to me that the city's problem is embedded in a much bigger problem which has to be dealt with, and that is our pattern of development."
"The future of the planet lies in having decent liveable cities. There's no question about that. But they're not going to be liveable unless we design them right now."
"The private sector is very good at innovating and delivering technical solutions, but it claims it does so in response to market demand. It's not entirely true because otherwise they wouldn't be spending so much money on advertising."
"You know it's very easy to say life is great..........but things are heading in a direction that has not been given enough thought in terms of the environmental implications."
"Since its beginning the metropolis generated within us an ambivalent feeling. In a way we are attracted by its glamour, the freedom, the occasion of work. But also we were frightened by it - the generation of noise, loneliness, crime, poverty, pollution and so on."
"We are building a metropolis every day, but we have a feeling a little bit like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park - an entertainment or a theme part escaping our control. Something we pursued that is becoming an ecological catastrophe."
"I think that the instruments of traditional European urban design are useless in present cities, in Europe and, of course in Asia."
"Statistics tell us that the megalopolis is unstoppable. I think we have to start from that. And it is of course its social and ecological problems should be dealt with before the aesthetical ones."
"I would rather propose a gardeners approach to cities. Instead of re-founding the city we should help it metamorphose. In this sense we could think of adding buildings as 'grafting,' like in botanics."
"Transportation, urban planning, legislation, economy, environmental engineering, landscape design, architecture, lighting design, public art - all the means are there to make a balanced and more richly stimulating territory. And I think all of this can only be done by a mix of public and private."
"I do think that the present cities need to be transformed. Not simply trimmed but transformed: in their organization, in the kind of lifestyle they represent. I think the idea of mid-sized cities triangulated around each other is a very important one to think about."
"While we live in a city, something in us reacts to the city and hankers for nature. We can see this right throughout history. In Singapore we have started to long for nature, for a better environment."
"I want to see not just the challenges and possible threats of cities, but the opportunities. I think that cities are places where we can have access to education, potentially better resources and services, and socially and politically organize ourselves in new ways to escape the hand of tradition and find better ways of life. I think that cities present opportunities for political, social and personal change."
"In Asia I'm afraid that many cities and many states have not delivered. We see appalling facilities, we see injustices, we see corruption."
"The cities that we have in Asia we are still grappling with the role of markets and the private sector."
"In a sense cities are the crucible of our expectations."
"I think that we have to look forward and find that market places, the increase of trade, the increased role of private actors can actually be very important to improving the environment."
"I think that where we are behind in Asia is in expecting corporations to take on a responsibility that has been captured in the term CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility."
"I think we really need to start thinking about how the cities on the national level, how they tie up with the regional and the international."
"I think there are very good reasons for every city to promise its residents clean air."
"I think that the challenge facing us in Asia is in a way to learn from some of the mistakes that other regions such as Europe, America have made and are making."