In pictures: Singapore can be Europe’s green light

Image: Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee/Unsplash

Climate change challenges are a global phenomenon and those involved with the built environment, in particular, must share information and best practices.

That was the message from PwC’s global real estate ESG leader, Christiane Conrads, speaking at Real Asset Media’s recent Outlook 2023: Europe & Asia – Capital, ESG & Key Investment Drivers, held in Singapore.

Conrads reviewed the progress being made in the adoption of ESG principles in Europe, particularly under the auspices of the European Union. But she emphasised, “When we’re speaking about ESG, it’s really important to keep in mind that it’s a global development, a global transition. The physical risks don’t stop at borders and regulations also have an impact on other regions around the world.”

Conrads pointed to Singapore’s City in a Garden project and the biodiversity which it embraces. “I’m super-impressed by Singapore’s approach when it comes to biodiversity. It started the project to transform Singapore into a city within a garden in 1963.

In the last few years this has really gained in importance,” she said. “We won’t have climate change mitigation without a high degree of biodiversity so that’s something which is necessary for climate protection, but also for climate change adaptation.”

Green facades

One example is the intensely green facades now on some buildings in Singapore. These green walls help cool the buildings which then need less energy for air-conditioning, and the greenery also has a beneficial impact on the environment of adjacent buildings.


Establishing the Gardens by the Bay, the botanical garden which includes 18 ‘supertree’ structures, adjacent to the urban area (above left), was part of the plan to realise Singapore’s City in a Garden plan. This aims to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. This plan has also included encouraging heavily planted building facades (above right) and establishing other extensively planted areas (below right). Image credits clockwise from left: Hu Chen/Unsplash; Danist-Soh/Unsplash; Mark-Stoop/Unsplash)

Singapore also has roof gardens that are combined with photovoltaic power plants, which increases the efficiency of the photovoltaic power plants due to the lower temperatures.

“Sharing this kind of knowledge is key,” Conrads said. She pointed out that there are those who think that there should be less focus on ESG because of the current crisis in Ukraine. “When the war started at the beginning of this year, we had several discussions during which it was asked ‘do we need to focus on the war – now the new uncertainty – and less on ESG?’ Eight months later, I’m saying ‘no’.”

She said that the various crises are all related and for Europe the war in Ukraine is also a catalyst for renewable energy projects. German energy independence is one of the biggest concerns.

A major part of the solution to climate change and mitigating its effects will be provided by information sharing.

“Collaboration is the new competition,” she added. “Many in the industry have started to acknowledge that and have begun to jointly develop environmental and social concepts.”