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GOVERNMENTS EXPRESSED COLLECTIVE WILL TO MOVE TOWARDS A MORE RESOURCE EFFICIENT AND POLLUTION FREE ASIA-PACIFIC AT JOINT UNITED NATIONS MINISTERIAL MEETINGS ON ENVIRONMENT CHAIRED BY SINGAPORE’S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

8th September 2017, Bangkok – Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, was elected as Chair of the 2nd Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific[1] (2nd A/P Forum) and the 7th session of the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia Pacific[2] (MCED-7), which took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 7 to 8 September 2017. This is the first time that the A/P Forum and the MCED are held together. The meetings were jointly organised by the United Nations Environment Programme[3] (UN Environment) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific[4] (UN ESCAP).

At the event, environment ministers and high-level officials from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific expressed collective will to move towards a more resource efficient and pollution-free Asia Pacific. This will help to advance global agendas like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development[5], the United Nations Environment Assembly[6] (UNEA) resolutions and other global commitments. Many drew attention to their national efforts in working towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia Pacific, and reiterated the critical nature of this work as there is only one planet Earth. The outcomes also highlighted the importance of adopting holistic strategies and building strong intergovernmental cooperation to address pollution in all forms, including transboundary ones.

The outcomes of the 2nd A/P Forum will feed into the deliberations for the third session of UNEA in December 2017. The MCED-7 saw the adoption of a Ministerial declaration which saw outcomes including the political commitment to promote regional dialogue to discuss environmental issues, including those that have transboundary impacts.

In addition to chairing the joint high-level segment of the 2nd A/P Forum and MCED-7, Minister Masagos also delivered Singapore’s National Statement, and spoke as a panellist at a Ministerial Dialogue titled “Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region” and a special event “Strengthening regional ocean governance and partnership towards clean seas”.

At these sessions, Minister Masagos underlined that Singapore takes pollution issues seriously. To make a case in point, he shared that shortly after Singapore’s independence in 1965, Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to form a dedicated environment ministry. Noting that this was a decisive move by the Singapore government to ensure that the environment was not compromised in the pursuit of economic development, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme Erik Solheim lauded Singapore’s model of sustainable development.

 

“I believe that Singapore provides a model for most of us. The thinking up until now for many countries is to develop first then take care of environment. However, that was a flawed model. But if you ask me on the answer to a good model of development, I will say Singapore,” said Solheim at the Ministerial Dialogue titled “Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region”.

 

Minister Masagos also spoke on our domestic measures, including the policies related to air quality, waste management and water management. He highlighted that even though Singapore does its part in reducing its resource and pollution footprints, localised pollution control efforts alone are not enough in achieving a pollution-free planet because pollution crosses borders through carriers, such as air and water.

 

In this regard, he underscored the importance for countries to adopt holistic strategies, including implementing effective measures to control pollution at source as well as cooperating with each other to address transboundary pollution. He also added that multilateral and regional bodies, such as UN Environment and UN ESCAP, play vital roles in fostering cooperation in our region and beyond.

 

 

The full National Statement delivered by Minister Masagos is enclosed.

 

 

MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, SINGAPORE

8 SEPTEMBER 2017

 

 


[1] The A/P Forum is organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and is part of the regional preparatory process for the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). The A/P Forum serves as a platform for countries to provide input on regional priorities for UN Environment, and review UN Environment’s implementation of UNEA resolutions. Ministers and other Heads of Delegation can also use the A/P Forum to outline their national positions on key issues on the environment. 

 

[2] The MCED is an intergovernmental meeting that covers environmental and development issues, and is held every five years by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The MCED aims to review the state of the regional environment for the previous five years and draw up a regional sustainable development plan for the next five years.

[3] UN Environment was created in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly to coordinate environmental matters within the United Nations system and set the global environmental agenda. Singapore was accredited to UN Environment on 15 Feb 2016. The Government appointed Hazri Hassan, Director of International Policy from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, as Singapore’s Non-Resident Permanent Representative to UN Environment.

[4] UN ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1974 to encourage economic cooperation among its member states. UN ESCAP’s regional focus is managing globalisation through programmes in environmentally sustainable development, trade, and human rights.

 

[5] The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25 Sep 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a set of 17 aspirational sustainable development global goals covering a broad range of sustainable issues, with 169 targets between them. Each sustainable development goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

 

[6] UNEA represents universal membership and is the governing body of UN Environment. UNEA sets the global environmental agenda, and is the governing body of UN Environment and guides its work. UNEA-3 will take place in December 2017, and is expected to take decisions on resolutions and documents, including a declaration, aimed at reducing pollution.

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