RWS-NUS Living Lab to advance biodiversity conservation and decarbonisation

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is partnering Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in a five-year applied research collaboration to enhance biodiversity conservation in Singapore – especially in and around the Southern Islands, accelerate decarbonisation and pioneer nature-based, energy efficient solutions for buildings and infrastructure.

Called the RWS-NUS Living Laboratory, this collaboration was launched by Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Culture, Community, and Youth Mr Alvin Tan on 5 January. RWS has committed S$10 million in funding to support the RWS-NUS Living Laboratory and its research. This academic-industry partnership will contribute directly to the tourism economy, environmental education and sustainability efforts in Singapore’s ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) development.

“This partnership showcases how industry and institutions can work together on sustainability and conservation research, while also reinforcing the attractiveness of Singapore as a tourism destination,” Mr Tan said.

Noting that this is one of the largest institution-industry collaborations focused on biodiversity and energy conservation in Singapore, Mr Tan added that NUS brings its capabilities as a leading global research institute, while RWS brings its strength as a world-class tourism destination.

The RWS-NUS Living Laboratory will focus on two research areas: biodiversity conservation and education; as well as decarbonisation and nature-based solutions. The collaborative research work to address the critical issues of biodiversity and climate resilience will have a positive impact on the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and support the ambitious target for Sentosa to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Sustainability is a key priority for NUS, both in our research and campus operations. We currently have more than 20 research centres across the campus working on integrative sustainability solutions, leveraging our deep capabilities in low-carbon energy, carbon dioxide conversion technologies, marine science research, climate modelling, artificial intelligence, and more.”

"I am confident that we will co-create many innovative and transformative research outcomes that will enhance biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability, and decarbonisation. This, in turn, strengthens Singapore’s standing in eco-tourism,” Prof Tan added.

RWS CEO Mr Tan Hee Teck said, “The RWS-NUS Living Laboratory underscores our resolute commitment to make RWS a sustainable destination for Singaporeans and travellers. At the same time, the partnership will set the foundation for RWS to meet emerging trends where consumers are prioritising sustainability and unique engaging experiences when they travel.”

Biodiversity conservation and education

The RWS-NUS Living Laboratory will play an active role in the conservation of the Coral Triangle, which is a rich centre of marine life and coral diversity located in the western Pacific Ocean. It will also be involved in rewilding programmes to restore marine biodiversity in Singapore.

The Living Laboratory will also explore conducting research into the potential benefits of nature experiences on human health and well-being, which may be beneficial to mental and physiological wellness. In addition, it will consider how the activities of Dolphin Island can support marine conservation research and education in Singapore.

The knowledge gained from these programmes will extend into the exhibits and education programmes at the upcoming Singapore Oceanarium at RWS, benefitting both local and overseas visitors.

RWS CEO Mr Tan said, “Nestled within the lush biodiversity surrounding of Sentosa, an elevated S.E.A. Aquarium, to be known as the Singapore Oceanarium with its immersive and multi-sensory story-telling of the evolution of the oceans’ inhabitants, along with marine education, conservation and research, will further strengthen RWS’ destination appeal.”

Decarbonisation and nature-based solutions to enhance climate resilience

Another key area of research under the Living Laboratory is to develop and testbed innovations at RWS in areas relating to decarbonisation, energy, water, and waste. For example, researchers aim to apply advanced decarbonisation solutions designed and optimised for tropical, urban and Singapore settings.

There are also plans to develop and implement nature-based, energy efficient solutions for building and infrastructural projects. Internet of Things-based climatic sensors or devices, as well as data mining and systems modelling capabilities, will also be incorporated to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to potential urban heat risks.

“We look forward to working alongside NUS to expand research and develop innovative solutions that bring us closer to our sustainability goals and reinforces Singapore’s position as a sustainable tourism destination,” RWS CEO Mr Tan said.

Read more about the research projects here.