Dr Cheong Koon Hean

Chief Executive Officer
Housing & Development Board

Dr Cheong Koon Hean is the CEO of the Housing & Development Board (HDB) overseeing the development and management of some 1 million public housing flats in 26 towns/estates. Since joining the HDB in 2010, she has introduced a new generation of public housing and large scale sustainability initiatives for the development of HDB towns, as well as initiated the Smart HDB Town framework.

Dr Cheong was also the CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority from 2004 to 2010, in charge of strategic land use planning, conservation of built heritage and the real estate market. She played a key role in the planning and development of major growth areas, such as Marina Bay as well as the Sino Singapore Tianjin Eco City. She is also a nominating committee member of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.

Dr Cheong is currently on the Boards of the HDB, the National University of Singapore, the Civil Service College and is the Deputy President of the International Federation for Housing and Planning as well as a fellow of the Singapore Institute of Architects. Active internationally, she served on various expert panels and was on the World Economic Forum’s Real Estate and Urbanisation Global Agenda Council. She is also the Tan Swan Beng Endowed Professor in Nanyang Technological University. Amongst others, she was awarded the  Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding public service, the University of Newcastle’s 2010 Convocation Medal for professional excellence and the IWF’s 2011 Woman Who Make A Difference Award.  In 2016, she became the first Asian to be conferred the JC Nichols Prize for Urban Visionaries by the Urban Land Institute and the Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Title: Towards Sustainable Cities and Communities: The Road to Housing a Nation

The opening keynote highlights global challenges arising from rapid urbanisation and the recognition by the New Urban Agenda of the importance of developing sustainable cities and communities. Affordable housing is at the centre in driving sustainable urbanization. It calls for a shift in the creation of urban settlements from agglomeration of houses to holistic frameworks, guided by comprehensive urban planning, effective policies and placing people at the core of urban development.

Dr Cheong will share the experience of Singapore’s public housing programme, highlighting how effective housing policies have enabled more than 80% of the population to be housed in 1 million public housing flats, with one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. She will also illustrate how comprehensive town planning and the use of technology has created towns that are well-designed, community-centric and sustainable. The presentation will include some of the new design strategies, urban spaces and smart and sustainable technologies implemented in Punggol, Singapore’s “Sustainable Waterfront Town in the Tropics”.