Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development Sam Tan is in Reykjavik, Iceland, for the 7th Arctic Circle Assembly (ACA). Over 2000 participants from around 60 countries are attending the ACA this year.
MOS Tan delivered a statement at the opening session of the ACA on 10 October offering an update on Singapore’s Arctic and climate change-related initiatives, and reaffirmed our commitment to continue contributing to the work of the Arctic Council (AC) and that of the current AC Chair, Iceland (2019 � 2021). The full text is appended.
On the sidelines of the ACA, MOS Tan met Chairman of the Arctic Circle and former President of Iceland A�lafur Ragnar Grimsson as well as senior representatives from Arctic Council Member States, including United States Assistant Secretary of International Affairs at the Department of Energy, Theodore J. Garrish. MOS Tan also engaged representatives from the Arctic Council Working Groups and indigenous peoples.
In addition to attending the ACA, MOS Tan had courtesy bilateral calls on President Gudni Johannesson, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, and Minister for Transport and Local Government Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson. MOS Tan and the Icelandic leaders noted that this year marked the 20th year anniversary since the establishment of bilateral relations, reaffirmed good ties and explored ways to deepen cooperation. MOS Tan will also meet Singaporeans based in Iceland.
MOS Tan will depart Iceland tomorrow.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
12 OCTOBER 2019
Opening Statement by Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development Sam Tan at the 7th Arctic Circle Assembly (ACA), Reykjavik, Iceland, 10 to 13 October 2019
His Excellency A�lafur Ragnar Grimsson, Chairman of the Arctic Circle,
Her Royal Highness Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden
Her Excellency Katrin Jakobsdottir, Prime Minister of Iceland
His Excellency Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 A very good afternoon to all of you. It is wonderful to be back in Reykjavik for the ACA again. I am happy to see many familiar faces and many more new faces in the audience. This means that the ACA has gained a strong traction among the Arctic fraternity as well as further afield.
2 I have spoken at many Arctic fora and I think many are now familiar with Singapore’s interests in the Arctic. The environmental implications of a melting Arctic are immediate priorities to us � as a low-lying, maritime nation, Singapore’s fate is inextricably linked to the oceans and the environment.
3 It is therefore against this backdrop that we see much synergy with the AC’s work and that of its current Chair, Iceland. Iceland’s overarching theme of Sustainable Development, and priorities areas such as the Oceans and Climate Change are issues close to our hearts in Singapore.
4 Given the existential implications of climate change on Singapore, we adopt forward-looking domestic mitigation measures, including being the first Southeast Asian country to introduce a carbon tax earlier this year, with no exemptions for any industry � probably the first country to do so. This is a painful, but necessary action to mitigate climate change. We also take a long-term view towards climate adaptation, spending around S$1.8 billion to boost our flood resilience capabilities in the last few years. And we are going to spend an estimated S$400 million over the next 2 years to upgrade our drainage systems.
5 In much the same way, we invest towards understanding the oceans and contributing towards its sustainability. For example, we recently launched a S$10 million National Sea Level Programme for scientists and researchers to help develop more robust sea-level rise projections. We are also concerned with the growing problem of marine plastics – which accounts for over 70% of marine debris – and have in place regulations to encourage the judicious use and disposal of plastics. To this end, we also partner Norway, an AC Member State, to conduct marine litter management programmes for participants from Asia Pacific region.
6 More broadly, Sustainability has always been a cornerstone of Singapore’s development journey and central to the idea of Singapore being a City in a Garden today. We are now pushing towards a circular-economy to prepare for a resource-constrained future, and have to this end declared 2019 the Year Towards Zero Waste.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Stronger Arctic Council
7 I am also happy to note that Iceland seeks to strengthen the Arctic Council through cooperation, including with Observers, as one of its Chairmanship priorities. This is encouraging as partnerships are key to a robust global response to climate change. Singapore is committed to the valuable work of the AC, and will continue to raise awareness of Arctic issues in the Southeast Asia region.
8 With its fragile ecosystem already experiencing a rise in temperatures twice as fast as the rest of the world, we must all double-down on our efforts to protect this very precious Arctic. We must take action now, before the Arctic becomes the tropics.
9 Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Singapore