Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Ministry of National Development, Sim Ann represented Singapore virtually at the 12th Arctic Council (AC) Ministerial Meeting.
Special Envoy for Arctic Affairs, Sam Tan and MFA officials also attended the virtual meeting which happened on May 20, 2021.
This is the fourth time Singapore participated in this meeting as an observer.
Continue to work towards sustainable development in the Arctic region
The meeting reviewed the progress that the council had made in the last two years with Iceland chairing the council.
Sim commended Iceland for its excellent chairmanship of the council with a focus on sustainable development.
The AC Chairmanship rotates every two years and Russia will be chairing the council from 2021 to 2023.
Sim said that Singapore looks forward to contribute to the sustainable development of the Arctic, including green shipping and tackling marine litter, as well as the conservation of flora and fauna in the region. She emphasised the need for stakeholders to collaborate and highlighted the Singapore Green Plan in her statement. She said:
"Sustainable development is one important area that requires collaboration from all stakeholders, which we have emphasised in the recently launched Singapore Green Plan 2030."
With growing interest in the Arctic among young Singaporeans, Singapore will also look into strengthening youth engagement with the AC.
Sim affirms Singapore's commitment to work with the council at the end of her statement:
"Singapore stands ready to work with the Council and all stakeholders to strengthen international collaboration and address current and emerging issues to find a common way towards a sustainably prosperous Arctic."
You can watch Sim's full statement at the ministerial meeting here:
Singapore has been an AC observer since 2013
The Arctic is a barometer of climate change, MFA said in its press release. Physical changes of the glaciers are important indicator of the effects of climate change.
As a low-lying island-state, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea levels.
Furthermore, the melting of Arctic ice could open up an alternative Northern Sea Route connecting East Asia and Europe which is 40 per cent shorter than the current shipping route which runs through the Suez Canal. This means ships can bypass the port in Singapore, affecting our maritime industry.
This explains Singapore's vested interest and active participation in the Arctic region since 2013, despite being 7,000km away.
Since then, Singapore has been involved in Arctic research programmes and shared our best practices in the prevention of oil spills, biodiversity conservation, marine shipping, and sustainable energy development.
The Arctic Council is a leading intergovernmental forum for discussing political, economic, environmental and scientific issues concerning the governments and inhabitants of the Arctic region, MFA described.
Established in 1996, the AC consists eight Arctic States that govern the territory within the Arctic region.
They are the United States, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.
There are 13 non-arctic observer states: Germany, China, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, India, Korea, France, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Top image screenshot from MFA and photo from Danting Zhu/Unsplash