Singapore is a tiny, maritime city-state, where "our survival, our prosperity depends on the oceans", said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan at the United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC) in Lisbon, Portugal on Jun. 28.
"In fact, the same applies to all people, even those from landlocked States", Vivian noted on the importance of the ocean on people's livelihoods, as well as on the climate and marine biodiversity.
In his speech, Vivian highlighted that the theme of this year's conference, which is "Scaling up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation", is "timely and salient".
He urged UN member states to "urgently scale up actions to collectively protect the ocean, and mitigate the impacts of climate change".
These actions, Vivian added, must be conducted under the aegis of international law, based on data and science, and approached with multilateral cooperation as the foundation of the efforts.
To play its part, Singapore is renewing 10 of the voluntary commitments it had previously submitted to the UNOC and will undertake nine new ones.
What is a voluntary commitment?
The UNOC brings together UN member states to promote the implementation of Goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which aims for the conservation and sustainable use of ocean, sea and marine resources.
The first UNOC was held back in 2017.
As part of the UNOC, voluntary commitments were launched to allow governments, organisations or individuals to undertake initiatives that support the implementation of Goal 14.
Once a voluntary commitment is submitted to the UNOC, its progress can be tracked in an online registry on the UNOC website.
Why does Singapore care?
According to the MFA webpage on UN SDGs, the UN SDGs is a "global development framework" that was adopted by World Leaders at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
Made up of 17 goals, they apply to all countries and is meant to gather efforts to "end poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change."
"As a small country with limited land and no natural resources, Singapore understands the challenges of sustainable development well", the website adds.
Singapore has submitted a total of 33 UNOC commitments since 2017, including the nine new commitments, according to Eco-Business.
Research projects amongst new initiatives
Of the nine new commitments, Vivian highlighted three of them, which are environmental research projects that will help enhance our understanding of the ocean.
The projects focus on the sustainable management of marine fish populations, studying the use of solar energy to facilitate coral growth, and a Marine Climate Change Science programme.
Adding to these, Vivian shared about Singapore’s efforts in the shipping industry to spearhead the transition to environmentally-friendly fuel, adopt greener and more energy-efficient technology, and build capacity for industry-specific carbon accounting.
Currently, Singapore’s other commitments include courses to be conducted this year on the International Law of the Sea, Managing Coastal Biodiversity under Urbanisation Pressures and Environmental Conservation and Sustainability.
These will be conducted through the Singapore Cooperation Programme, which shares Singapore's development experiences with other developing countries through training programmes.
Top image via MFA