The Ministry of Environment (ENV) was formed in September 1972 to tackle issues such as pollution control, sewerage, drainage and environmental health.

In 2001, recognizing that Singapore’s water catchment and supply systems, drainage systems, water reclamation plants, and sewerage systems are part of a comprehensive water cycle, PUB was reconstituted to become the single water authority in Singapore, overseeing the entire water loop. The drainage and sewerage department from ENV were transferred to PUB, while PUB itself was transferred from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ENV.

On 1 July 2002, a new statutory board NEA was formed under ENV to focus on the implementation of environmental policies. It took on the operations of the Environmental Public Health Division, and the Environmental Policy and Management Division of ENV.

The aim was to create a leaner, more policy-focused Ministry and a more streamlined, operations-focused statutory board. The division of responsibility between policy formulation and operational implementation would allow ENV to focus on setting strategic policy directions and address key policy concerns.

In September 2004, ENV was renamed to what it is known today – the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) – to better reflect the Ministry's significantly expanded role in managing Singapore’s water resources.

On 1st April 2019, a new statutory board, the Singapore Food Agency, was formed to oversee food safety and security.

Together with its statutory boards NEA, PUB and SFA, MEWR continues to work towards ensuring a clean, sustainable environment, and supply of water and safe food for Singapore.