A crowd of over 600 attended the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet, held at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, which honoured this year’s World City and Water Prize laureates respectively, the City of Suzhou, China, and the Orange County Water District (OCWD), the US. Also in attendance was guest of honour Dr Tony Tan, President of Singapore; as well as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan.
This year, Suzhou was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize for implementing effective urban planning strategies that balanced the needs of the city’s economy, communities, heritage and environment. The OCWD, on the other hand, received the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for its pioneering initiatives in groundwater management and water reuse. The cities of Yokohama, Japan, and Medellín, Colombia, were accorded Special Mentions as part of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.
Attendees at the event were treated to a musical performance before award plaques were conferred to the Mayor of Suzhou, Mr Zhou Naixiang, and Ms Cathy Green, Board Member, OCWD. Videos showcasing Suzhou’s urban development and OCWD’s water innovations were also screened, bringing on a loud round of applause from the audience.
In his opening address, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, praised both prizewinners for developing and implementing innovative policies, technologies and programmes in collaboration with their partners.
He mentioned that Suzhou’s “demonstration of sound planning principles and good urban management” empowered it to achieve the goals of economic and social progress, as well as the preservation of the city’s “significant historical heritage”. The professor also commended the city’s able governance, structured processes and strong political support. “Suzhou provides many good lessons for the many rapidly urbanising cities around the world,” he added.
The OCWD was recognised for its revolutionary facilities, in particular, the Groundwater Replenishment System that enabled it to supply 70% of potable water to 2.4 million residents in the Orange County district of California. Processes and technologies spearheaded by the OCWD have been adopted by other cities around the world, including Singapore. Furthermore, the OCWD’s numerous outreach programmes were noted for being instrumental in its success.
Inaugurated in 2010, the biennial Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is awarded to cities whose good governance, innovation and leadership creates liveable, vibrant and sustainable communities. The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize was launched in 2008 to recognise individuals or organisations that develop innovative solutions for the world’s water problems.
This article was adapted from Solutions Issue 2 June 2014, a World Cities Summit Show Daily. Read the full issue .