Executive Biography of Cheong Koon Hean

Prof Cheong Koon Hean
The Centre for Liveable Cities

Prof Cheong Koon Hean is currently Chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities (Ministry of National Development) as well as a Practice Professor and Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities (Singapore University of Technology and Design). She was formerly the CEO of the Housing and Development Board from 2010 to 2020, overseeing some 1 million public housing flats and introduced a new generation of well designed, community centric, sustainable and smart public housing. Prof Cheong was also CEO of Urban Redevelopment Authority from 2004 to 2010 and concurrently the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of National Development from 2001 to 2016, with extensive experience in land use planning, conservation of built heritage, the real estate market, public housing, governance and policy. She played a key role in major urban transformations such as Singapore’s new city extension Marina Bay and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City.

She has served on numerous advisory panels including the World Economic Forum Council and is currently on the Asia Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory Panel. She is a board trustee of the National University of Singapore, former Deputy President and current Council member of the International Federation for Housing & Planning, Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize’s Nominating Committee, a Fellow(Life) and Honorary Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Architects and Institute of Planners respectively. She was formerly on the boards of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing & Development Board, Jurong Town Corporation, Jurong Port, National Heritage Board, Civil Service College and a global trustee of the Urban Land Institute.

Prof Cheong has been conferred numerous awards, notably the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding public service and is the first Asian to receive both the 2016 Urban Land Institute’s Prize for Urban Visionaries and the Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. She is a Colombo Plan Scholar with degrees in Architecture (Hon 1, University Gold Medal), a Doctor of Architecture Honoris Causa (University of Newcastle), Masters degree in Urban Development Planning (University College London), and has completed the Advanced Management Programme (Harvard University).

Topic Synopsis – Getting Serious about Sustainability: Integrated Action towards Climate Compatible Development

Infrastructure development is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 88 per cent of all adaptation costs. This huge scale of influence offers a unique opportunity for infrastructure investments and development to help countries get back on track to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, mitigate and adapt to climate change and also accelerate recovery from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we cannot solve one infrastructure issue at a time without understanding how they are interrelated and what their impacts are on people and the planet in the long term. There must be coherence in coordinating global and national goals with detail implementation.

It is urgent for decision makers and practitioners to take integrated action across all stages of the infrastructure lifecycle – from planning, to delivery, to management and demolition – to ensure that they incorporate climate adaptation and mitigation measures, while still aiming for long term sustainability. The infrastructure decisions of today must meet the development and climate needs of tomorrow.