Does Singapore need more land

Singapore: built on sand

Singapore relies on sand for population and economic growth. The city-state imports more of the precious raw material for landfill projects than any other country in the world

Every growth spurt costs billions. The new business district, the world's best airport, the "Gardens by the Bay" park: the city-state of Singapore has to create space for every building project. Gaining land in the sea.

In half a century of independence, the former British crown colony tripled its population to 5.5 million and increased its territory by over 20 percent. By 2030 it should be 30 percent. Singapore's economy is reliant on land gain, so much so that the state is hoarding sand reserves in restricted military areas. Singapore imports more sand for landfill projects than any other country in the world. The island state consumes 5.4 tons of sand per head of population every year - world class!

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that around 40 billion tons are consumed around the world every year. Experts warn that the raw material sand is being mined far faster than it is being renewed. The world is running out of sand.

And with what can still be mined, resourceful sand traders and smugglers make billions in business. The supplies no longer come only from sand pits, but also from rivers and seas, often illegally excavated. This has consequences for nature: water levels are sinking, coasts are eroding, entire ecosystems are being destroyed.

Singapore's neighboring countries have long since recognized such environmental problems - and have issued export bans in series: Malaysia banned sand exports as early as 1997, Indonesia in 2007, Cambodia and Vietnam followed in 2009. In Indonesia in particular, the delivery stop to the small neighboring country had political reasons as well: the sand was extracted in a row uninhabited islands of the archipelago disappeared - and "reappeared" in the territory of Singapore. A creeping territorial transfer.

Officially, Singapore now sources its sand mainly from Myanmar and the Philippines. But even in the booming city-state, there is discussion about the fact that illegal imports from neighboring countries continue to run in secret. Sometimes entire beaches disappear overnight. Environmentalists estimate that Singapore's hunger for sand could sink over 80 Indonesian islands into the ocean in the next few years.

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