- Towards a Food Sovereignty Strategy for Singapore   click here to open paper content1090 kb
by    Ng, Waikeen | akinwk@nus.edu.sg   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper summarizes the proposals for island-wide multi-disciplinary
spatial planning and design strategies that could help Singapore achieve a
“total defence” approach towards a measure of food sovereignty during a
crisis situation.
The global population is expected to continue growing and become
increasingly urbanised. At the same time, farming and fishing yields are
declining through increased demand, reduced amounts of arable land,
unsustainable agricultural and fishing practices and climate change.
Breakthroughs in food production – another “green revolution” – are
urgently required, as will be urban agriculture, which will be increasingly
important to supplement traditional, rural agriculture.

Singapore is in a vulnerable position in the impending food crisis, and the
government is seeking to diversify our food sources, even creating food
zones overseas. However, the question remains: given Singapore’s small size
and already dense urban environment, how can we address the spatial
requirements to attain a satisfactory degree of food sovereignty and
security, as it is neither realistic nor economically and environmentally
viable to attempt to meet Singapore’s entire food needs through in-country

The more pragmatic and viable solution would be to build flexibility and
adaptability in the urban planning and development strategies so that land
and space can be quickly deployed (say, within three months) for food
production as and when the need arises, that is, during critical or
emergency situations. At all other times, when imported food is secure,
such land and spaces have “normal”, everyday functions.

Over two semesters, the Food Sovereignty studio explored island-wide multi-
disciplinary spatial planning and design strategies that will help
Singapore achieve a “total defence” approach towards food sovereignty
during a crisis situation. The site, naturally, covers the entire territory
of Singapore, including the off-shore islands.

The studio explored the major aspects and concepts (“strands”) of the
challenge, including some basic number crunching to determine the
quantitative parameters of the project. Then over the semester, the ideas
coalesced around three major “strands”: urban farming, urban fisheries, and
productive landscapes. The students identified/developed strategies for
each, first at the national level, but also zooming into a new town (Bedok)
to examine potential spatial ramifications for efficient deployment during
emergency situations. Underlying the proposals is an understanding of the
key technical/scientific requirements of each “strand”, sensitivity to the
political and social contexts, and the adoption of the ethos of sustainable
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