Keynote Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the 4th Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific on 7 October 2021
Your Excellency Han Jeoung-ae, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates
1 It is indeed my honour to be here in Suwon City to participate in the 4th AP Forum. Allow me to express my sincere appreciation to the Republic of Korea for hosting this very important meeting amidst the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.
Singapore’s 3rd AP Forum Chairmanship
2 Singapore places great importance in the AP Forum process. In January 2019, Singapore hosted the 3rd AP Forum, which was the first time the Forum was held outside of Bangkok. The meeting discussed key environmental issues and innovations in the region under the theme “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production (or SCP). Countries also shared their national actions and experiences in implementing solutions to SCP, and discussed regional progress on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs).
3 The AP Forum plays a crucial role in bringing the Asia-Pacific region together, to review regional implementation of the United Nations Environment Assembly (or UNEA)’s resolutions and decisions. It also provides an opportunity for us to share ideas and approaches to tackle environmental challenges of the day.
4 Since the 3rd AP Forum in 2019, there have been dramatic changes. The pandemic has exposed the fragile interdependence between ecosystem health and human well-being. We also see worrying trends of large-scale ecosystem decline and unsustainable consumption and production patterns, precipitating a pollution crisis. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has projected that every region in the world will experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers, resulting in more frequent and severe droughts, rainfall, and flooding as the world warms. Urgent action is needed to safeguard the global environment, for current as well as future generations.
5 The 4th AP Forum marks an opportune moment for the region to take stock of challenges and opportunities.
6 First, as we make our way through pandemic recovery, we must re-commit to the sustainability agenda. Singapore is pursuing this through our Singapore Green Plan 2030, launched earlier this year as a national roadmap for sustainable development over the next ten years. Sustainability must remain at the core of what we do, to ensure we do not reverse the region’s hard-earned progress in the last decade on the SDGs.
7 Second, we must continue to unlock solutions and explore ways to transition towards sustainability. We must make a shift from linear resource use models to circular economy approaches, and leverage innovation to overcome resource constraints. This will allow us to harness opportunities for sustainable recovery, to emerge stronger and greener from the pandemic.
8 Third, we must continue to work with each other. Cooperation through platforms such as the UNEA and this AP Forum is key to our collective sustainability. At UNEA-5.2, we will deliberate on important yet cross-cutting issues including strengthening action on nature, marine litter, sustainable consumption and production. These complex issues will require all countries to work together to find a positive way forward. We are confident that the 4th AP Forum, under the able leadership of the Republic of Korea, will allow the region to have meaningful exchanges on these issues.
9 It was an honour for Singapore to chair the AP Forum for the past term. We look forward to working closely with the region as we continue our collective journey towards sustainability. I wish everyone here as well as online a fruitful and good meeting. Thank you.