01 Jun 2007
Business Times: LKY prize boosts efforts for water technologies: Yaacob
By VINCENT WEE
SINGAPORE is playing a leading role in the development of water technologies and these efforts have been given a boost with the announcement of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize which will be awarded next March.
The prize is an international award to be given annually to recognise an individual or organisation for outstanding contribution towards solving the world's water problems by applying innovative technologies, or implementing policies and programmes which benefit humanity. The LKY Water Prize Laureate will be presented an award certificate, $300,000 and a gold medallion.
'This is a great opportunity for us to share and exchange ideas and thoughts on advances and developments in this important field,' said Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening of the International Water Association's (IWA) 4th Leading Edge Conference and Exhibition on Water and Wastewater Technologies yesterday.
'Through continuous investments in R&D and technology in the last 40 years, Singapore has overcome its challenges in water. As a beneficiary of technology, we hope that the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize can inspire more breakthroughs in water technology to help solve the world's water problems,' said Public Utilities Board (PUB) chief executive Khoo Teng Chye. One notable outcome of these efforts has been the production of NEWater and for its work on this and other significant projects, PUB was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award last month.
Research and the development of new technologies is also seen as a major growth driver for the economy, added Dr Yaacob. To this end, the National Research Foundation has committed some $330 million over five years to promote research in this sector. The government hopes to double the number of jobs in the water industry to 11,000 and triple the value-add to the economy to $1.7 billion by 2015.
Singapore's national water agency has to date undertaken or completed more than 90 R&D projects, including a promising collaboration between Nanyang Technological University and Stanford University on the use of nanotechnology for water treatment. This is one example of a research effort that could potentially have major economic impact in future.
Other efforts to promote this growing field will be the holding of the Singapore International Water Week next June.
The propagation of the sustainable water management message in Asia will also be helped by the opening of IWA's regional office at PUB's WaterHub this evening, which will help enhance the organisation's coordination and outreach to meet the region's needs.