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Minister Balakrishnan and Team Singapore lauded at PM’s National Day Rally for efforts to advance climate change negotiations

August 24, 2015

Minister of Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan was lauded yesterday for his contribution and efforts towards the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Lima, Peru last December.

COP20 was a crucial negotiations which set the scene for this year’s talks in Paris at COP21, where a new global agreement on climate change binding all countries is expected to be reached.

Following the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol being passed in 2012, Singapore was the 14th country to submit its instrument of acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 23 September 2014, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York. At the time of writing, only 41 countries have done so. A total of 144 instruments of acceptance are required for the entry into force of the amendment.

Last December, Singapore was the third country to submit its 3rd National Communication (NC) and 1st Biennial Update Report (BUR), containing progress towards its 2020 target. In Cancun in 2010, countries agreed to promote transparency and accountability. The first BURs were due at the end of December 2014 and so far only 14 have been submitted.

Singapore has undergone a Technical Analysis of its NC/BUR in May 2015 and will have to partake in a Facilitative Sharing of Views (FSV) likely to be held in June 2016. In keeping with its mandate, the principles or concepts of non-intrusive, non-punitive and respectful of national sovereignty will have to be appropriately governed throughout the ICA process.

So it is no wonder that Dr. Balakrishnan was invited to become one of two Friends of the Chair (H.E. Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment of Peru and President-Designate of COP 20 and CMP 10) at the Lima COP20 along with Minister Tine Sundtoft of Norway. They were tasked to conduct ministerial outreach during the talks.

PM Lee also praised the “strong and cohesive” team which supported Minister Vivian Balakrishnan during the negotiations.

“Team Singapore”, as PM Lee called them, was effective in COP20 in not only staffing Minister Balakrishnan but also working on the ground with other delegations. Because the team champions Singapore’s interests abroad, PM Lee suggested that they wear red at such meetings.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan arrives at the countdown party of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010. (Photo © John Ang)

See Minister Balakrishnan’s Facebook posts/photos of COP20/CMP10 in Lima here.

Singapore has been active at other UN platforms as well. On 30 July, Singapore’s representative to the UN, Ms. Karen Tan, told the United Nations Security Council’s Open Debate on Small Island Developing States held at the UN Headquarters in New York, that climate change would have a massive impact on small islands in the Asia-Pacific region.

See video of Ms. Karen Tan speaking to the UN Security Council here.

What this shows is that Singapore, a tiny island city-state, is pulling its weight in climate change diplomacy. There are many other examples of how Singapore is doing this in other fora but having been cited at this year’s National Day Rally at such a time when negotiations are ongoing for a new deal in Paris suggests that the Singapore Government is cognizant of the effort needed to overcome challenges and to garner support for this new agreement. Apart from the need to represent Singapore’s interests, Team Singapore at the UNFCCC has been able to lend themselves well to the process, to build bridges and be honest brokers of information.

Singapore is viewed as a constructive player and therefore has been actively involved in UN climate change meetings and has had access to the innermost circuit of discussions.

It is likely that Singapore will continue to contribute to international negotiations on climate change, particularly in the two upcoming UNFCCC meetings in August/September and October in Bonn, Germany before countries meet in Paris.

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