International Development Planning Review

Turning on the taps: Singapore’s new branding as a global hydrohub

International Development Planning Review (2017), 39, (2), 209–227.

Abstract

In our globalised and urbanised world, environmental sustainability looms large. Water in particular is a valuable global and cosmopolitan resource that all megacities need. However, rather than cooperating to address these shared challenges, urban scholarship on branding thus far has focused on intercity competition to attract capital flows. This paper argues that an overlooked collaborative dimension of city branding in providing water solutions is important in international cooperation on environmental and climate challenges. It examines Singapore’s global hydrohub strategy, and framing the case within branding literature, the paper adopts Anholt’s three-pronged conceptual framework of substance, strategy and symbolism. The third ‘S’ – Symbolism – appears most relevant for the city-state leveraging global concerns over water to project its cooperative win-win approach. While Singapore’s original intention was to address ‘life and death’ challenges securing water supplies from Malaysia, the hydrohub strategy also mirrors the changing geopolitics of regional water politics.

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Braun, E. (2012) ‘Putting city branding into practice’, Journal of Brand Management, 19(4), 257–67. Putting city branding into practice Journal of Brand Management 19 257 67 Google Scholar

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Danesi, M. (2006) Brands, London, Routledge. Brands Google Scholar

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Iversen, N. M. and Hem, L. E. (2008) ‘Provenance associations as core values of place umbrella brands: a framework of characteristics’, European Journal of Marketing, 42(5/6), 603–26. Provenance associations as core values of place umbrella brands: a framework of characteristics European Journal of Marketing 42 603 26 Google Scholar

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Kavaratzis, M. (2008) From city marketing to city branding. An interdisciplinary analysis with reference to Amsterdam, Budapest and Athens (published Doctoral dissertation), Netherlands, Groningen University. Google Scholar

Kavaratzis, M. and Ashworth, G. J. (2005) ‘City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick?’, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 96, 506–14. City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick? Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 96 506 14 Google Scholar

Khoo, T. C. (2009) ‘Singapore water: yesterday, today and tomorrow’, in A. Biswas, C. Tortajada and R. Izquierdo-Avino (eds) Water management in 2020 and beyond, Berlin, Springer, 237–50. Singapore water: yesterday, today and tomorrow Water management in 2020 and beyond 237 50 Google Scholar

Koh, B. S. (2011) Brand Singapore. Singapore, Marshall Cavendish. Brand Singapore Google Scholar

Kotler, P., Asplund, C., Rein, I., and Heider, D. (1999) Marketing places Europe: attracting investments, industries, residents and visitors to European cities, communities, regions and nations, London, Pearson Education. Marketing places Europe: attracting investments, industries, residents and visitors to European cities, communities, regions and nations Google Scholar

Leifer, M. (2013) Singapore’s foreign policy: coping with vulnerabilities, London, Routledge. Singapore’s foreign policy: coping with vulnerabilities Google Scholar

Long, J. (2001) ‘Desecuritizing the water issue in Singapore-Malaysia relations’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 23(3), 504–32. Desecuritizing the water issue in Singapore-Malaysia relations Contemporary Southeast Asia 23 504 32 Google Scholar

McNeill, D. (2009) The global architect. Firms, fame and urban form, New York, Routledge. The global architect. Firms, fame and urban form Google Scholar

NRDC (NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENCE COUNCIL) (2010) ‘Climate change, water and risk: Current water demands are not sustainable’, NRDC, Washington, DC, https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/WaterRisk.pdf (accessed 27 February 2016). Google Scholar

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) (2003) Urban renaissance: Glasgow, lessons for innovation and implementation, Paris. Google Scholar

Ong, B. L, (2010) ‘Singapore water management policies and practices’, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 26(1), 65–80. Singapore water management policies and practices International Journal of Water Resources Development 26 65 80 Google Scholar

Pang, L. (2012) Creativity and its discontents: China’s creative industries and intellectual property rights offences, London, Duke University Press. Creativity and its discontents: China’s creative industries and intellectual property rights offences Google Scholar

Phua, M. P. and Nadarajan, B. (2012) ‘UN Chief toasts S’pore’s water strategy’, 24 March 2012, The Straits Times, A6. UN Chief toasts S’pore’s water strategy The Straits Times Google Scholar

Poon, C. (2013) ‘Sharing the gift of water’, Today, https://www.todayonline.com/daily-focus/people/sharing-gift-water (accessed 5 October 2013). Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (2008) ‘Water: The next lap’, Pure: Annual 2007/2008, Public Utilities Board, Singapore, 21–24. Water: The next lap 21 24 Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (2012) Local catchment water, http://www.pub.gov.sg/water/Pages/Localcatchment.aspx (accessed 8 December 2012). Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (n.d.) Annual report 2011/2012, http://www.pub.gov.sg/annualreport2012/feature_future1.html (accessed 9 September 2013). Google Scholar

Rossi, U. and Vanolo, A. (2012) Urban political geographies; a global perspective, London, Sage. Urban political geographies; a global perspective Google Scholar

Roy, A. and Ong, A. (2011) Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global, London, Wiley-Blackwell. Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global Google Scholar

Sassen, S. (2001) The global city: New York, London, Tokyo, 2nd ed., Princeton, Princeton University Press. The global city: New York, London, Tokyo Google Scholar

Scott, A. (1996) ‘Regional motors of the global economy’, Futures, 28(5), 391–411. Regional motors of the global economy Futures 28 391 411 Google Scholar

SIWW (Singapore International Water Week) (2014a) http://www.siww.com.sg/sites/default/files/SIWW2014-Factsheet.pdf (accessed 7 June 2014). Google Scholar

SIWW (Singapore International Water Week) (2014b) Collaborations reinforce Singapore International Water Week as premier global platform to share and co-create solutions, http://www.siww.com.sg/media/collaborations-reinforce-singapore-international-water-week-premier-global-platform-share-and (accessed 7 June 2014). Google Scholar

Sreedharan, S. (2012) ‘Pilot project on new way to process waste water’, Today, 26 March 2012, 4. Pilot project on new way to process waste water Today Google Scholar

TMG (TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT) (2011), ‘Towards the realization of cyclical systems and sustainable water supplies’, (The 4th IWA-ASPIRE Conference and Exhibition Report). Bureau of Waterworks, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, https://www.waterprofessionals.metro.tokyo.jp/news.html#a25 (accessed 8 June 2015). Google Scholar

Tortajada, C. and Biswas, A. K. (eds) (2012) Asian perspectives on water policy, New York, Routledge. Asian perspectives on water policy Google Scholar

Tortajada, C., Joshi, Y. and Biswas, A. K. (2013) The Singapore water story: sustainable development in an urban city state, New York, Routledge. The Singapore water story: sustainable development in an urban city state Google Scholar

UNDESA (UNITED NATIONS DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS) (2014) Water for life decade. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml (accessed 9 April 2013). Google Scholar

UNWWD (UNITED NATIONS WORLD WATER DEVELOPMENT) (2015) Water for a sustainable world, The United Nations World Water Development Report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Paris. Water for a sustainable world Google Scholar

Van Ham, P. (2008) ‘Place branding: the state of the art’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 126–49. Place branding: the state of the art The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616 126 49 Google Scholar

Van Wassenhove, L., Fernando, R. and Hamelin, H. (2013) Singapore: city in a garden, INSEAD: Singapore, 01/2013-5892. Singapore: city in a garden Google Scholar

WORLD BANK (2006) Dealing with water scarcity in Singapore, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2006/07/7138489/dealing-water-scarcity-singapore-institutions-strategies-enforcement (accessed 9 April 2013). Google Scholar

Yan, J. (2008) ‘Ethical imperatives in nation branding: smaller nations enter the global dialogue through nation branding’ in K. Dinnie (ed.), Nation branding: concepts, issues, practice, Butterworth Heinemann Dutton, 170–79. Ethical imperatives in nation branding: smaller nations enter the global dialogue through nation branding Nation branding: concepts, issues, practice 170 79 Google Scholar

Zhang, L. and Zhao, S. X. (2009) ‘City branding and the Olympic effect: a case study of Beijing’, Cities, 26(5), 245–54. City branding and the Olympic effect: a case study of Beijing Cities 26 245 54 Google Scholar

Anholt, S. (2005) ‘Some important distinctions in place branding’, Place Branding, 1(2), 116–21. Some important distinctions in place branding Place Branding 1 116 21 Google Scholar

Anholt, S. (2008) ‘Place branding: Is it marketing, or isn’t it?’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 4(1), 1–6. Place branding: Is it marketing, or isn Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 4 1 6 Google Scholar

Anholt, S. (2010) Places: Identity, image and reputation, New York, Palgrave Macmillan. Places: Identity, image and reputation Google Scholar

Anholt, S. (2011) ‘Beyond the Nation Brand: The Role of Image and Identity in International Relations’, Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, 2(1), 6–12. Beyond the Nation Brand: The Role of Image and Identity in International Relations Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy 2 6 12 Google Scholar

Ashworth, G. and Kavaratzis, M. (2009) ‘Beyond the logo: brand management for Cities’, Journal of Brand Management, 16(8), 520–31. Beyond the logo: brand management for Cities Journal of Brand Management 16 520 31 Google Scholar

Ayoob, M. (2003) ‘Inequality and theorizing in international relations: the case for subaltern realism’, International Studies Review, 4(3), 27–48. Inequality and theorizing in international relations: the case for subaltern realism International Studies Review 4 27 48 Google Scholar

Barber, B. R. (2013) If mayors ruled the world: dysfunctional nations, rising cities, London, Yale University Press. If mayors ruled the world: dysfunctional nations, rising cities Google Scholar

Bhullar, L. (2013) ‘Climate change adaptation and water policy: lessons from Singapore’, Sustainable Development, 21(3), 152–59. Climate change adaptation and water policy: lessons from Singapore Sustainable Development 21 152 59 Google Scholar

Biswas, A. and Ching, L. (2011) ‘Why water weeks count’, The Straits Times, 4 July 2011, A19. Why water weeks count The Straits Times Google Scholar

Braun, E. (2012) ‘Putting city branding into practice’, Journal of Brand Management, 19(4), 257–67. Putting city branding into practice Journal of Brand Management 19 257 67 Google Scholar

Brenner, N. and Theodore, N. (2002) ‘Cities and the geographies of “actually exisiting neoliberalism”’, Antipode, 34(3), 349–79. Cities and the geographies of “actually exisiting neoliberalism” Antipode 34 349 79 Google Scholar

Building Review Journal (2014) ‘Xylem affirmed Singapore as their Greater Asia headquarters’, 2 June 2014, Building Review Journal, http://brj.com.sg/tag/water-management/ (accessed 9 June 2015). Google Scholar

Caldwell, N. and Freire, J. (2004) ‘The differences between branding a country, a region and a city: applying the Brand Box Model’, Brand Management, 12(1), 50–61. The differences between branding a country, a region and a city: applying the Brand Box Model Brand Management 12 50 61 Google Scholar

Chang, T. C. (2001) ‘“Configuring new tourism space”: exploring Singapore’s regional tourism forays’, Environment and Planning A, 33, 1597–619. “Configuring new tourism space”: exploring Singapore’s regional tourism forays Environment and Planning A 33 1597 619 Google Scholar

Cheam, J. (2012) ‘S’pore to showcase urban solutions at summit’, The Straits Times, 21 April 2012, A18. S The Straits Times Google Scholar

Chew, Y. C., Watanabe, C. and Tou, Y. (2011) ‘The challenges in Singapore NEWater development: co-evolutionary development for innovation and industry evolution’, Technology in Society, 33(3–4), 200–11. The challenges in Singapore NEWater development: co-evolutionary development for innovation and industry evolution Technology in Society 33 200 11 Google Scholar

Chua, B. H. (2011) ‘Singapore as model: planning innovations, knowledge experts’, in A. Roy and A. Ong (eds), Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global. London, Wiley-Blackwell, 27–54. Singapore as model: planning innovations, knowledge experts Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global 27 54 Google Scholar

Chua, G. (2011) ‘S’pore has hand in new WHO guidelines on water’, The Straits Times, 5 July 2011. S The Straits Times Google Scholar

Danesi, M. (2006) Brands, London, Routledge. Brands Google Scholar

Dematteis, G. (1994) ‘Urban identity, city image and urban marketing’, in G. O Braun (ed.), Managing and marketing of urban development and urban life, Berlin, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 429–39. Urban identity, city image and urban marketing Managing and marketing of urban development and urban life 429 39 Google Scholar

Duara, P. (2014) The crisis of modernity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. The crisis of modernity Google Scholar

EDB (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD) (2011) Tap into Singapore’s pool of resources, Singapore. Tap into Singapore’s pool of resources Google Scholar

EDB (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD) (2015) Environment and water management, http://www.edb.gov.sg/content/edb/en/industries/industries/environment-and-water.html (accessed 15 April 2015). Google Scholar

Hackworth, J. (2007) The neoliberal city: governance, ideology, and development in American urbanism, Ithaca, Cornell University Press. The neoliberal city: governance, ideology, and development in American urbanism Google Scholar

Han, F. K., Ibrahim, Z., Chua, M. H., Lim, L., Low, I., Lin, R. and Chan, R. (2011) Hard truths to keep Singapore going, Singapore: Straits Times Press. Hard truths to keep Singapore going Google Scholar

Harvey, D. (1989) ‘From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism’, Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, 71(1), 3–17. From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism Geografiska Annaler. Series B 71 3 17 Google Scholar

Henderson, H. C. (2012) ‘Planning for success: Singapore, the model city-state?’, Journal of International Affairs, 65(2), 69–83. Planning for success: Singapore, the model city-state? Journal of International Affairs 65 69 83 Google Scholar

Iversen, N. M. and Hem, L. E. (2008) ‘Provenance associations as core values of place umbrella brands: a framework of characteristics’, European Journal of Marketing, 42(5/6), 603–26. Provenance associations as core values of place umbrella brands: a framework of characteristics European Journal of Marketing 42 603 26 Google Scholar

Kavaratzis, M. (2004) ‘From city marketing to city branding: towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands’, Place Branding, 1(1), 58–73. From city marketing to city branding: towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands Place Branding 1 58 73 Google Scholar

Kavaratzis, M. (2008) From city marketing to city branding. An interdisciplinary analysis with reference to Amsterdam, Budapest and Athens (published Doctoral dissertation), Netherlands, Groningen University. Google Scholar

Kavaratzis, M. and Ashworth, G. J. (2005) ‘City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick?’, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 96, 506–14. City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick? Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 96 506 14 Google Scholar

Khoo, T. C. (2009) ‘Singapore water: yesterday, today and tomorrow’, in A. Biswas, C. Tortajada and R. Izquierdo-Avino (eds) Water management in 2020 and beyond, Berlin, Springer, 237–50. Singapore water: yesterday, today and tomorrow Water management in 2020 and beyond 237 50 Google Scholar

Koh, B. S. (2011) Brand Singapore. Singapore, Marshall Cavendish. Brand Singapore Google Scholar

Kotler, P., Asplund, C., Rein, I., and Heider, D. (1999) Marketing places Europe: attracting investments, industries, residents and visitors to European cities, communities, regions and nations, London, Pearson Education. Marketing places Europe: attracting investments, industries, residents and visitors to European cities, communities, regions and nations Google Scholar

Leifer, M. (2013) Singapore’s foreign policy: coping with vulnerabilities, London, Routledge. Singapore’s foreign policy: coping with vulnerabilities Google Scholar

Long, J. (2001) ‘Desecuritizing the water issue in Singapore-Malaysia relations’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 23(3), 504–32. Desecuritizing the water issue in Singapore-Malaysia relations Contemporary Southeast Asia 23 504 32 Google Scholar

McNeill, D. (2009) The global architect. Firms, fame and urban form, New York, Routledge. The global architect. Firms, fame and urban form Google Scholar

NRDC (NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENCE COUNCIL) (2010) ‘Climate change, water and risk: Current water demands are not sustainable’, NRDC, Washington, DC, https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/WaterRisk.pdf (accessed 27 February 2016). Google Scholar

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) (2003) Urban renaissance: Glasgow, lessons for innovation and implementation, Paris. Google Scholar

Ong, B. L, (2010) ‘Singapore water management policies and practices’, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 26(1), 65–80. Singapore water management policies and practices International Journal of Water Resources Development 26 65 80 Google Scholar

Pang, L. (2012) Creativity and its discontents: China’s creative industries and intellectual property rights offences, London, Duke University Press. Creativity and its discontents: China’s creative industries and intellectual property rights offences Google Scholar

Phua, M. P. and Nadarajan, B. (2012) ‘UN Chief toasts S’pore’s water strategy’, 24 March 2012, The Straits Times, A6. UN Chief toasts S’pore’s water strategy The Straits Times Google Scholar

Poon, C. (2013) ‘Sharing the gift of water’, Today, https://www.todayonline.com/daily-focus/people/sharing-gift-water (accessed 5 October 2013). Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (2008) ‘Water: The next lap’, Pure: Annual 2007/2008, Public Utilities Board, Singapore, 21–24. Water: The next lap 21 24 Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (2012) Local catchment water, http://www.pub.gov.sg/water/Pages/Localcatchment.aspx (accessed 8 December 2012). Google Scholar

PUB (PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD) (n.d.) Annual report 2011/2012, http://www.pub.gov.sg/annualreport2012/feature_future1.html (accessed 9 September 2013). Google Scholar

Rossi, U. and Vanolo, A. (2012) Urban political geographies; a global perspective, London, Sage. Urban political geographies; a global perspective Google Scholar

Roy, A. and Ong, A. (2011) Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global, London, Wiley-Blackwell. Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global Google Scholar

Sassen, S. (2001) The global city: New York, London, Tokyo, 2nd ed., Princeton, Princeton University Press. The global city: New York, London, Tokyo Google Scholar

Scott, A. (1996) ‘Regional motors of the global economy’, Futures, 28(5), 391–411. Regional motors of the global economy Futures 28 391 411 Google Scholar

SIWW (Singapore International Water Week) (2014a) http://www.siww.com.sg/sites/default/files/SIWW2014-Factsheet.pdf (accessed 7 June 2014). Google Scholar

SIWW (Singapore International Water Week) (2014b) Collaborations reinforce Singapore International Water Week as premier global platform to share and co-create solutions, http://www.siww.com.sg/media/collaborations-reinforce-singapore-international-water-week-premier-global-platform-share-and (accessed 7 June 2014). Google Scholar

Sreedharan, S. (2012) ‘Pilot project on new way to process waste water’, Today, 26 March 2012, 4. Pilot project on new way to process waste water Today Google Scholar

TMG (TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT) (2011), ‘Towards the realization of cyclical systems and sustainable water supplies’, (The 4th IWA-ASPIRE Conference and Exhibition Report). Bureau of Waterworks, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, https://www.waterprofessionals.metro.tokyo.jp/news.html#a25 (accessed 8 June 2015). Google Scholar

Tortajada, C. and Biswas, A. K. (eds) (2012) Asian perspectives on water policy, New York, Routledge. Asian perspectives on water policy Google Scholar

Tortajada, C., Joshi, Y. and Biswas, A. K. (2013) The Singapore water story: sustainable development in an urban city state, New York, Routledge. The Singapore water story: sustainable development in an urban city state Google Scholar

UNDESA (UNITED NATIONS DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS) (2014) Water for life decade. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml (accessed 9 April 2013). Google Scholar

UNWWD (UNITED NATIONS WORLD WATER DEVELOPMENT) (2015) Water for a sustainable world, The United Nations World Water Development Report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Paris. Water for a sustainable world Google Scholar

Van Ham, P. (2008) ‘Place branding: the state of the art’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 126–49. Place branding: the state of the art The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616 126 49 Google Scholar

Van Wassenhove, L., Fernando, R. and Hamelin, H. (2013) Singapore: city in a garden, INSEAD: Singapore, 01/2013-5892. Singapore: city in a garden Google Scholar

WORLD BANK (2006) Dealing with water scarcity in Singapore, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2006/07/7138489/dealing-water-scarcity-singapore-institutions-strategies-enforcement (accessed 9 April 2013). Google Scholar

Yan, J. (2008) ‘Ethical imperatives in nation branding: smaller nations enter the global dialogue through nation branding’ in K. Dinnie (ed.), Nation branding: concepts, issues, practice, Butterworth Heinemann Dutton, 170–79. Ethical imperatives in nation branding: smaller nations enter the global dialogue through nation branding Nation branding: concepts, issues, practice 170 79 Google Scholar

Zhang, L. and Zhao, S. X. (2009) ‘City branding and the Olympic effect: a case study of Beijing’, Cities, 26(5), 245–54. City branding and the Olympic effect: a case study of Beijing Cities 26 245 54 Google Scholar

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Author details

Joo, Yu-Min

Heng, Yee-Kuang