Parallel Plenary: Governance and Public Policy – Responses from State and Society

Chair: Asst. Professor Mark Baildon
Venue: Function Room


WHO: Mr Edwin Khew
Nominated Member of Parliament


Energy is essential to improving the quality of life and opportunities in developed and developing nations. Therefore, ensuring sufficient, reliable and environmentally responsible supplies of energy is a challenge for countries and for mankind as a whole. To tackle this overarching goal, there are challenges such as high and volatile oil prices, growing demand for energy, investment requirements along the entire energy chain, and the need to protect the environment to tackle climate change.
There is a growing consensus amongst governments for determined action to address climate change concerns and to shift to a lower carbon economy, through energy efficiency and renewable energy.


WHO: Dr Paul Barter
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

WHAT: Urban Transport and Climate Change: Pricing Carbon Is Not Enough

Much climate change policy thinking is devoted to the pricing of ‘carbon’. This is obviously an important agenda. Establishing a clear price signal for emissions would certainly help nudge the transport sector towards a lower-emissions future. It seems obvious that carbon pricing could make a difference to the market-based parts of the urban transport system, such as the markets in motor vehicles and in fuel.
However, the talk will argue that pricing alone can never be enough to influence urban transport systems quickly enough or strongly enough. Despite the market nature of parts of the system, most key features of urban transport are actually highly planned. Many features are also deeply ‘locked in’, including the massive, long-lasting physical infrastructure systems, such as expressways and mass transit systems. Our social and institutional arrangements to govern urban transport are less obviously resistant to change but many of them are also quite deeply entrenched. Even the arrangements under which our personal vehicles are owned, paid for and regulated can make our travel behaviour difficult to influence, so that the pricing of fuel makes only a modest difference, especially in the short term.
Does that mean it is hopeless to try to get urban transport to play its part on climate change? Carbon pricing will not be enough and urban transport systems are difficult to change quickly. This seems like a nasty predicament. Fortunately, promising approaches do seem to be emerging, many of them under the so-called “New Mobility Agenda”. They may help correct past mistakes and offer a way forward without being too harsh or draconian in shaping our travel behaviour. The talk will therefore share a number of emerging innovations that promise some hope of addressing greenhouse emissions, while also helping to deliver better transport outcomes for cities.


WHO: Dr Seetharam Kallidaikurichi Easwaran
Visiting Professor and Director, Institute of Water Policy


Developing Asian countries should not experience a water crisis in the future – there is now enough knowledge, technology, and expertise available in the region to solve its existing and future water problems. However, if some Asian countries face a crisis in the future, inadequate or inappropriate water governance, not physical scarcity of water, will be the likely reason.

This is one of the key messages highlighted in the Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2007. The report makes a distinct contribution to the discussion among leaders on managing Asia and the Pacific's water resources for the future.

The AWDO is cautiously optimistic on Asia’s water future. With existing knowledge, experience, and technology, the region’s water problems are solvable.

But in solving these issues, the report highlights that:

  • Worldwide competition for water is increasing. But any water crisis in the future will not be caused by physical scarcity of water, but more likely by inadequate or inappropriate water governance
  • There is a need to address the inherent relationships between water and other development-related sectors, e.g. energy, food, environment, as interactions among them will determine the future of Asian countries
  • Climate change is creating a new level of uncertainty in water planning and management processes, and accelerated research is needed if serious water-related stresses are to be avoided
  • Limited access to water is a key determinant of poverty. Yet the poor causes a significant proportion of water problems, e.g. uncontrolled deforestation. Investing in poverty reduction counters further degradation of water resources and the environment
  • Stable institutional frameworks, strong political will, accelerated demand from civil society to solve water issues, adequate financial and managerial support, and intensive capacity development efforts are among the common characteristics of successful water management practices in the region

AWDO was commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in view of the increasing importance of water in the future development scenarios of the Asia and Pacific region.