Thursday, January 28, 2010

HDB looks forward on its 50th birthday

EVEN as Singapore's public housing agency looks back to celebrate its achievements over the past 50 years, it will face increasing challenges that mean evolving to meet changing needs.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB), which marks its 50th birthday on Feb 1, must meet these challenges while maintaining its three-pronged approach of environmental, economic and social sustainability, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said yesterday.

He was addressing more than 500 delegates from around the world at the opening ceremony of a three-day international housing conference hosted by the HDB and held at Suntec City.

'In this globalised world, we face many common challenges: climate change, migration, demographic shifts, shrinking resources, among others,' he told the conference. 'These changes impact all cities alike, large or small, developed or developing, sooner or later.'

The conference was a great opportunity for policymakers, architects and urban planners to exchange ideas.

The growing challenges that HDB will face include an ageing population, which may require further innovations in housing policies or building design, he said. Others included integrating the growing number of new Singapore citizens and the effects of rising affluence.

'As the public housing authority, HDB's key task is to find innovative ways to accommodate our people, taking these challenges into account,' he said.

Speakers at the three-day conference, which discussed themes such as environmental sustainability, include housing ministers from Spain, Finland and Australia, and senior government officials from the United States and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng said Hong Kong faced similar challenges as Singapore over land size and a growing population, and had ensured public housing for lower-income earners. She will be speaking at the conference today.

Adressing the audience, HDB chief executive Tay Kim Poh also acknowledged yesterday that HDB has 'achieved much that we are proud of', but it is also mindful of the 'challenges to housing that are shaped by the changing needs and expectations of our people'.

Source, Straits Times 28 January 2010

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