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STATEMENT BY SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE DR AMY KHOR AT THE SIXTH MINISTERIAL FORUM OF THE EAST ASIAN SEAS CONGRESS 2018, 29 NOVEMBER 2018, ILOILO CITY, THE PHILIPPINES

Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Delegates,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is an honour to participate in the Sixth Ministerial Forum. On behalf of Singapore, I would like express my appreciation for the warm and gracious hospitality provided by the Government of the Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. I would also like to thank PEMSEA for your effort in organising the EAS Congress 2018.

 

2          Let me first outline Singapore’s approach to sustainable development and coastal and ocean management. As a small island developing state with no natural resources, Singapore has always sought to achieve economic development in tandem with environmental protection and social inclusion. Given our limited land, we have taken a pragmatic approach in balancing our needs. Singapore’s coastal areas are heavily utilised for industry, particularly port operations, ship building and petrochemical industries, as well as housing and recreational areas for our population. And yet, because of our careful approach to development, Singapore’s coastal and marine environment has continued to support a surprisingly diverse range of habitats and biodiversity. Singapore’s inter-tidal and sub-tidal reef areas, at just over 12 square kilometres in size, are home to over 250 hard coral species, 12 seagrass species, 100 marine fish species, and countless others.

 

3          Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) in 2003 and the update in 2015, the SDS-SEA has been aligned closely to the Sustainable Development Goals under the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Singapore has also ensured that our SDS-SEA efforts are in line with broader sustainable development efforts. As part of the Da Nang Compact, Singapore has also completed our State of Coasts and Oceans Report 2018 on our progress in implementing SDS-SEA.

 

 4          In 2009, Singapore adapted PEMSEA’s Integrated Coastal Management principles to our local context by incorporating an urban perspective in the framework. Singapore’s Integrated Urban Coastal Management has enabled us to carefully manage and preserve our fragile marine environment in a holistic and integrated manner for future generations. We have established Singapore’s first marine park, the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park which spans 40 hectares and houses a wide range of marine habitats, including coral reefs, sandy shores and seagrass areas. The Marine Park showcases our unique biodiversity within the sub-tidal reefs, inter-tidal areas and coastal forests, and educates visitors about our marine natural heritage. We have also developed the Marine Conservation Action Plan (MCAP), which is grounded in science and guides our efforts in conserving Singapore’s marine habitats and biodiversity. Physical safeguarding, community stewardship, habitat enhancement and species recovery are the four main thrusts under the MCAP.

5          Singapore takes the issue of marine pollution very seriously as it is a key challenge facing the seas in our region. We have stringent policies to prevent marine pollution from land-based sources. For example, all discharge of trade effluent, oil, chemicals, and sewage are tightly controlled so that they do not cause pollution to our watercourses. We also enforce strict anti-littering laws, and have an integrated waste management system to minimise waste at source and collect all waste for proper disposal so that waste will not be washed into the ocean. Waterway clean-up measures prevent land-based litter, including plastic waste, from reaching the sea.  In addition to preventing pollution, Singapore conducts regular water quality monitoring of inland water bodies and coastal areas to ensure that they meet international water quality standards.

6          Going forward, we will implement mandatory reporting of plastic and packaging waste data and waste reduction plans by 2020, and are exploring the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for packaging, which will address the upstream components of land-based sources of marine pollution. These would include single-use plastics. However, Government efforts are not enough. Fostering shared ownership in keeping the environment clean and minimizing waste is key. We partner the People, Private and Public sectors on initiatives that reduce waste generation and promote recycling.  Environmental groups help raise awareness and encourage the public to keep our city and watercourses clean.

7          Singapore is also committed to developing a maritime transport industry that is responsible and sustainable. To promote clean and green shipping in Singapore, the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative (MSGI) was launched in 2011 to reduce the environmental impact of shipping and shipping-related activities on the coastal and marine environment. The Maritime Port and Authority of Singapore (MPA) has pledged to invest up to S$100 million under the MSGI’s expanded programmes, namely, the Green Ship Programme; the Green Port Programme; the Green Technology Programme; the Green Awareness Programme and the Green Energy Programme. Ship owners are also encouraged to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and reduce the environmental impact of their operations through these programmes.

8          Singapore was one of the first countries in Asia to ratify all six Annexes of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) MARPOL Convention, the main international convention to prevent pollution by ships, including prohibiting the discharge of plastics into the sea. MPA also works with the IMO to provide capacity building courses for countries under the MPA-IMO Third Country Training Programme (TCTP), which offers courses on the implementation of relevant IMO instruments, including those that protect the marine environment through the prevention of pollution from ships. 

 

9          The Seas of East Asia are an important resource. We recognize that PEMSEA has been working closely with its partners to contribute to the sustainable development and management of the region’s marine and coastal resources. More can be done. We are confident that the expertise and capacities that PEMSEA has helped to build up will continue to make a positive impact.

 

10        Singapore strongly supports the Ministerial Declaration that will re-affirm our commitment to sustainable coastal and marine development in our region. It is our hope that the Seas of East Asia will continue to be a precious resource. I am confident that, collectively, we can achieve sustainable coastal and marine development for the benefit, not just of our current, but also our future generations.

 

 11        Thank you for your kind attention.

 

 


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