The MEM Seminar Series 2002/2003










Assoc  Prof  Victor R  Savage


Department of Geography

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

National University of Singapore









Saturday , 31 August 2002

10:00 am - 12 noon

Lecture Room LR425

SDE 3  Level 4







All are Welcome



For more information, please call

Jennifer @ 6874-3563 or e-mail



Despite the fact that 30 per cent of Southeast Asians are classified as living in urban areas, in the next two decades this figure is likely to top 60 per cent.  While urban living is not a norm in the region, there are many major cities in excess of three million people (e.g. Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Singapore, Yangon, Ho Chi Minh City).  The problem is that cities in Southeast Asia represent twin icons in development.  On the one hand, they are the catalyst for development in their states, and yet on the other hand, they exhibit dismal records of environmental problems.  This presentation hopes to identify the major factors that are important in maintaining cities as sustainable landscapes.  I argue that urban environments are man made, cultural and engineered landscapes.  And hence, we cannot apply purely ecosystem analogies in understanding the workings, processes and maintenance of urban environments.  We need to deal with fundamental ‘brown’ environments (refuse, litter, water, sewerage, pollution) in cities.  On the other hand, we have got to realize that inefficient, high consumption activities and deteriorating environments create large ecological footprints that make cities environmentally unviable centres of human activity.  In short, city dwellers in Southeast Asia might be able to maintain their standards of living but at high environmental and human costs to hinterlands and ecosystems around and beyond the city.


About   the  speaker


Assoc Prof Savage, a Singaporean, did his undergraduate Arts (Honours) degree at the University of Singapore and obtained his MA and PhD in geography from the University of California, Berkeley.  He completed his MA and PhD under the Fulbright Hayes Scholarship.  His research interest is mainly on Singapore and the Southeast Asian region – historical and cultural landscapes, sustainable development, sustainable urban development and cross-cultural issues. He was made a Fellowship of the Indian Society for Environment and Culture in June 1995. He is a Board member of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC); President of the Commonwealth Geographical Bureau (CGB); President of the Fulbright Association, Singapore;  member of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Board of Trustees; member of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Executive Committee;  member of the Regional and International Issues Focus Group, Ministry of the Environment;  member of the Sentosa Customer Advisory Panel; and Member of the Honorary Board of Advisors, Times Publishing Limited. A/P Savage is also a member of the Singapore History Museum Board; Vice-Chairman of the Quality of Life Committee, North East Community Development Council and Member of the Subject Group Rustic Coast and Parks and Waterbodies Plan, Urban and Redevelopment Authority. Besides numerous articles in journals and books, he has published the following books:  Western Impressions of Nature and Landscape in Southeast Asia [Singapore University Press, 1984];  Environmental Stakes: Myanmar and Agenda 21 (Victor R Savage and Lily L L Kong (eds) [Hanns Seidel Foundation, Germany and Southeast Asian Studies Programme, NUS, 1997]; The Naga Awakens: Growth and Change in Southeast Asia (Victor R Savage, Lily Kong and Warwick Neville (eds)) [Times Academic Press, 1998];  The Geography of Development: Changes and Challenges [The Educational Publishing House Pte Ltd, 2000];  Mad about Green (Victor R Savage and Penelope Phoon-Cohen (eds) [Singapore Environment Council, 2002].